Marja Nevalainen MD, PhD

Professor, Eminent Scholar, Dept. of Pathology and Pharmacology & Toxicology

Assistant Dean of Research, Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)

Associate Director (Education), MCW Cancer Center

Director of Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence, MCW Cancer Center

Marja T. Nevalainen MD, PhD

Marja T. Nevalainen MD, PhD

Introduction

Marja Nevalainen, MD, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the field of cytokine and steroid hormone signaling in prostate cancer. The focus of her laboratory is on translational prostate cancer research to develop and improve diagnostics and therapy for prostate cancer. Dr. Nevalainen holds the title of Eminent Scholar at MCW. She is also Director of Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence at MCW Cancer Center, which is a multi-disciplinary hub for prostate cancer research within the institution with an international collaborative network. Dr. Nevalainen serves as Assistant Dean for Research at MCW, and Associate Director of Education for the MCW Cancer Center. Her primary appointment is in the Department of Pathology, and a secondary appointment in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. Dr. Nevalainen has extensive experience in collaborative research, mentoring and leadership from her previous roles at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University as Associate Director of Education and Vice Chair of Education in the Department of Cancer Biology.

Research Interests
  • Jak-Stat signaling
  • Prostate cancer progression
  • Therapy development
  • Companion diagnostics
  • Predictive Factors
  • DNA repair
  • Radiation therapy
  • In vitro and in vivo models
  • 3D tumor explant culture
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Cancer stem-like cell properties
  • Metastases models
  • Small molecule therapeutics
Professional Background
  • Clinical Residency, Primary Care Unit of Loimaa, Loimaa, Finland (1993)
  • Instructor, Dept. Cell Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland (1994-1997)
  • Finnish Academy of Science: Visiting Fellow, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. (1997-1998)
  • WHO-IARC-Fellow (World-Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer), United States Military Cancer Institute, USUHS, Bethesda, MD (1998-1999)
  • Visiting Fellow, United States Military Cancer Institute, USUHS, Bethesda, MD (2000-2002)
  • Assistant Professor, Dept. Cell Biology and Lombardi Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. (2002-2003)
  • Assistant Professor, Dept. of Oncology, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC (2003-2006)
  • Associate Professor of Cancer Biology, Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (2006-2015)
  • Associate Professor of Medical Oncology, Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University (2006-2015)
  • Associate Director (Education), Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University (2007-2015)
  • Vice Chairman – Education, Dept. of Cancer Biology, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University (2007-2015)
  • Member of the Executive Committee of Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University (2007-2015)
  • Member of the Research Advisory Committee of Thomas Jefferson University (2009-2015)
  • Member of the Professional Faculty Advisory Committee of Thomas Jefferson University (2009-2010)
  • Associate Professor of Urology, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University (2009-2015)
  • Co-Director: Greater Philadelphia Prostate Cancer Working Group (2009-2015)
  • Professor, Dept. of Pathology, Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center (2015-present)
  • Associate Director (Education, Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center (2015-present)
  • Member of the Executive Committee, Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center (2015-present)
  • Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI (2016 – Present)
  • Eminent Scholar, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI (2017 – Present)
  • Assistant Dean of Research, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI (2017 – Present)
  • Prostate Cancer Center of Excellence, Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center, Milwaukee, WI (2017 – Present)
Educational Background
  • Medicine B.M., University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  • Medicine M.D., University of Turku, Turku, Finland
  • Clinical Residency, Medicine, Health Central of Loimaa, Loimaa, Finland
  • Cell Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
Board Certifications

General Medicine (1993)

Research

Dr. Nevalainen is an internationally recognized leader in the field of Jak-Stat signaling in prostate cancer (PC). Dr. Nevalainen’s group provided the proof-of-concept that Stat5 is a therapeutic target protein for prostate cancer. Dr. Nevalainen’s group made the seminal finding of Stat5 as a critical factor for prostate cancer cell viability and growth in vitro, in vivo in xenograft tumor models and ex vivo in patient-derived clinical prostate cancers. Her group further established the concepts of: 1) Stat5 as a critical promoter of castrate-resistant prostate cancer growth, 2) Stat5 as a predictive factor of early prostate cancer recurrence and disease-specific death after radical prostatectomy, 3) Stat5 as a promoter of prostate cancer stem cell properties, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and metastatic disease, 4) Stat5 as a regulator of homologous recombination DNA repair and radiation response of prostate cancer. In recent work, using medicinal chemistry Dr. Nevalainen and collaborators have identified a family of novel small molecule Stat5 inhibitors with high efficacy in both PC and Bcr-Abl-driven leukemias.

Dr. Nevalainen’s research accomplishments include development of an androgen-dependent human PC cell line which mimics the course of human disease when grown as xenograft tumors in nude mice. Specifically, the tumors response to androgen deprivation by regression but regrow eventually back as castrate-resistant tumors.

Dr. Nevalainen is further recognized in her field for early development of a long-term 3D tumor explant culture system for normal and malignant prostate tissue for efficacy testing of experimental biologics and small-molecules ex vivo in clinical PCs from patients and as an experimental model system for identification of growth factor and drug modulated signaling proteins in prostate tissue.

Current work focuses on Jak-Stat signaling in anti-androgen resistance of prostate cancer, Stat5 regulation of DNA repair and optimization of the lead compound Stat5 inhibitor.

Contact Information

Office Address
8701 Watertown Plank Road

Milwaukee, WI, 53226