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University of Colorado Cancer Center

University of Colorado Cancer Center, A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Wells Messermith, MD



Medical Oncology


University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus


The student must have completed 3 years of college

Number of Openings: 1

Main Research Focus: 

Dr. Messersmith’s lab is mainly focused on using a personalized approach in developing new anticancer drugs for gastrointestinal cancers. In particular, the lab uses a novel colorectal and pancreatic explant model whereby tumor tissue is obtained from the operating room and then placed directly into mice. 

Tumors are treated with new drugs and predictive biomarkers of sensitivity are discovered.  These predictive markers are used in the clinic to pre-select patients that would most likely derive benefit from these new drugs. Additionally, these tumors are evaluated in orthotopic and metastatic models. 

Current anticancer drugs in the lab target Notch, PI3K/RAS, Wnt, Src, and c-Met pathways.


Students will:  a) perform cell culture, b) treat CRC or pancreas cell lines with novel anticancer compounds, c) analyze gene expression by RT-PCR and protein expression by western blot in cell lines and/or tissues, d) analyze data and prepare graphs and e) interpret and discuss results according to the literature.