CDTMI Basic & Translational Research

As a multidisciplinary Institute drawing expertise from numerous research scientists and clinicians across Montefiore Einstein Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Cancer Dormancy & Tumor Microenvironment Institute (CDTMI) is optimally positioned to combine expertise in medical oncology, epidemiology, cell biology, evolutionary biology, aging, immunology, hematopoiesis, engineering, optical subcellular and whole-body imaging, and computational biology with patient advocates.  

It's a big vision for delivering new biomarkers and therapeutic strategies.

CDTMI is also able to take advantage of remarkable technological advances in genome editing, transgenic animal models, proteomics, metabolomics, engineering, intravital and whole-body imaging, single-cell profiling and spatial transcriptomics which allow biological systems to be probed and manipulated with unprecedented resolution.

Specific aims of our mission are to: 

  • Identify the intrinsic and tumor microenvironment mechanisms that control cancer dormancy.
  • Determine how changes in the host contribute to the awakening of dormant cancer cells.
  • Reveal the effect of aging on cancer dormancy and its relationship with the immune system.
  • Identify dormancy biomarkers and therapeutics that can kill dormant cells or help maintain dormancy.
CDTMI Research Themes - a flowchart detailing the CDTMI's approach to analysis of cancer and the host to study cancer dormancy and relapse

Research Themes & Areas of Focus

We hypothesize that dormancy states of early or late evolved disseminated cancer cells (DCCs) in solid cancers (B) or residual cancer cells in hematological malignancies (C) are affected by common but also distinct alterations of target organs niches (A & D) caused by aging, senescence and, among others, inflammatory processes that may create dysfunctional adult stem cell niches and loss of tissue homeostasis (A). Alone or in addition to these changes, bone marrow (BM)-originating alterations, such as fibrosis, now coupled with genetic alterations in the cancer cells and/or lifestyle-led changes in target organs could alter the cancer cell-niche cell crosstalk leading to the reactivation of dormant cancer cells (A). 

Our focus is on cancers and sites where we have documented early and late dissemination and dormancy of these early and late evolved DCCs in genetically engineered mouse models and/or patients (B) and in hematological malignancies where minimal residual disease and relapse are a major problem (B). 

Our focus is also on target organs where recurrences can emerge across these cancers, such as the brain, lung, liver, lymph nodes and bone marrow. 

Translational Focus

The Institute’s translational focus is supported by our ability to access relevant human samples via a close collaboration with the New York Pathology Oncology Group (NYPO). This enables us, for example, to ask critical questions about dormancy and metastasis in fresh bone marrow aspirates and lymph node samples. 

We are also able to isolate DCCs and host cells for profiling, examine FFPE primary and metastatic tissues to validate markers and complement DCC analysis, and conduct research on normal host tissue to examine the effect of the variables in panel A on the target organ niches that induce dormancy of cancer cells. 

Learn More & Join Us in Solving the Problem of Cancer Dormancy and Relapse

Explore more about CDTMI research and its publications to date on our research page. Information about our work with the Bronx community appears in our Advocates & Community Involvement section.

The CDTMI is recruiting talented investigators in the biological and biomedical sciences with research programs aligned with the Institute’s vision. The call for faculty positions is open at the Assistant and Associate Professor levels. Interested candidates should send a summary of their research program and goals, as well as their curriculum vitae, to Nuri Panjaton at

We welcome you to our initiative and hope you’ll consider making a donation to help support our work!