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Publications in VIVO

Orth, James D Asst Research Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Professor Orth studies cancer therapies at the molecular and cellular level. During anti-cancer drug response there is often a disconnect in understanding molecular responses in cells and their fates. This is due to profound heterogeneity within the cancer cell population and tremendous variability in drug response that is difficult to study directly. These characteristics of cancer cells limits our ability to most effectively treat them, and could help explain drug resistance and treatment failure. Quantitative microscopy can add significantly to our understanding of therapeutic action. We relentlessly pursue how to apply advanced microscopy to the problem of cancer and develop single cell assays that allow us to study anti-cancer drug mechanism as it occurs. Through a direct and longitudinal approach, we develop a mechanistic model where we account for the response and fate of every single cell within a population. This powerful approach can be extended to in vivo tumor models.


  • cancer pharmacology, anti-cancer drug action, fractional response to therapy, adaptive drug resistance, anti-mitotic drugs, tumor biology, single-cell drug response, fluorescent microscopy, live-cell microscopy, xenograft tumors, cell culture, cell engineering, small molecule screening, DNA damage, apoptosis, cell stress


selected publications


courses taught

  • MCDB 2350 - Understanding Cancer: Introduction to the disease�s biology, medicine, and societal implications
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020
    A course for students who want to learn about cancer but have little or no background in biology. It is based on a text that presents relevant science and medicine in a readable and comprehensible way. Classes will be discussion of material from the text with weekly quizzes for feedback. The ethics and economics of cancer treatments will be discussed, along with ways to minimize one�s own cancer risk and live with cancer if necessary.
  • MCDB 3150 - Biology of the Cancer Cell
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2019
    Highlights dimensions of the cancer problem; cancer as a genetic/cellular disease; chemicals, viruses, and radiation as causes of cancer; cancer and diet; cancer epidemiology; cancer risk factors; proto-oncogenes, oncogenes, and cancer suppressor genes; and prevention of cancer. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 2150 or EBIO 2070 (minimum grade C-).
  • MCDB 4980 - Honors Research
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Provides faculty-supervised research for students who have been approved by the departmental honors committee. Normally taken during the semester before completion of the honors thesis. Recommended prerequisite: MCDB 4840 or comparable research experience, and minimum GPA of 3.20.
  • MCDB 4990 - Honors Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Involves the preparation and defense of an honors thesis, based on faculty-supervised original research, including final phases of the research project. Recommended prerequisites: MCDB 4840 or MCDB 4980 or comparable research experience, and minimum GPA of 3.3 and approval by the MCDB Honors Committee.
  • MCDB 6000 - Introduction to Laboratory Methods
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2019 / Spring 2020
    Introduces methodology and techniques used in biological research. Designed as a tutorial between a few students and one faculty member. Students are expected to read original research papers, discuss findings, and to plan and execute experiments in selected areas. Open only to MCDB graduate students. May be repeated up to 9 total credit hours.


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