Paraskevi Giannakakou

Paraskevi (Evi) Giannakakou is Associate Professor of Pharmacology in the Department of giannakakouMedicine at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University located in New York, New York. On March 1st 2012, Dr. Giannakakou was appointed the Director of Laboratory Research for the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology in the Department of Medicine, where she oversees the research activities within the Division, including basic science and translational research, in addition to oversight of education and training within the fellowship program.

Dr. Giannakakou received her PhD in Pharmacology jointly from the National Cancer Institute of NIH in Bethesda, MD and the University of Athens School of Medicine, Greece in 1997; she then continued her postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute of the NIH. Following her postdoctoral fellowship, she was recruited at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University as an Assistant Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology, in 2000. At Emory she became an active member of the Lung Cancer program, the Head and Neck SPORE program, and the Institute of Nanotechnology Excellence all of which received NCI funding. In 2005, she was recruited to Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Giannakakou’s research is focused on the biology of the microtubule cytoskeleton in cancer and the mechanism of action of chemotherapeutic drugs that target the microtubule cytoskeleton. More specifically, her research tries to identify the intracellular trafficking and signaling pathways that require an intact and dynamic microtubule network as well as the little-understood functional consequences of drug-induced microtubule disruption and cell death. Her laboratory uses functional cellular and molecular biology assays coupled with high-resolution microscopy and live-cell imaging to gain new information on microtubule and cancer-related systems and their cellular regulation. This information can be used to explain and improve the clinical function of anti-cancer drugs.

Dr. Giannakakou’s recent work has been focusing on understanding the molecular mechanisms of clinical resistance and tumor relapse in castrate resistant prostate cancer patients. In order to translate her lab’s basic biology findings in prostate cancer into true clinical gains, she started collaborating with Dr. Brian Kirby (Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY) who developed a novel microfluidic device for the capture of circulating tumor cells from metastatic prostate cancer patients and Drs. Nanus and Tagawa at WCMC who provided clinical expertise in this disease. Dr. Giannakakou’s laboratory has developed a number of assays that enable real-time molecular interrogation of CTCs. This collaborative multidisciplinary effort provides a unique platform to study how drug clinical resistance develops and identify new biomarkers of taxane response by utilizing information garnered by circulating tumor cells (CTCs). This work has helped launch a phase II clinical trial (TAXYNERGY) in which CTCs are being used to predict patient response to different taxane chemotherapy regimens and to provide hypotheses-generating data towards identification of molecular mechanisms that drive acquired clinical resistance to taxane chemotherapy.