Michael Spinella’s laboratory is focused on the molecular genetics of cancer, especially in the areas of mechanisms of tumorigenesis, cancer therapy, and drug resistance. One research focus is on uncovering mechanisms that account for the curability of metastatic testicular germ cell tumors in order to inform novel therapeutic strategies for advanced somatic solid tumors including glioblastoma and breast cancer. Other interests include the concept of differentiation therapy and the identification of mechanistic links between stem cell pluripotency, cancer, and response to chemotherapy. Spinella has a strong background in anticancer target identification and in molecular mechanisms of carcinogenesis, cancer therapeutics and chemoresistance. The Spinella lab has made several key contributions to understanding transcriptional mechanisms linked to the retinoic acid-induced differentiation of testicular cancer and to the curability and resistance of testicular cancer through global gene expression and genome-wide analysis. The goal of the lab is to leverage this information toward success in treating other solid tumors and we have recently identified novel therapeutic targets in breast cancer and glioblastoma.
Spinella joined the Department of Comparative Biosciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2016 as an Associate Professor and is a member of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology in the Anticancer Discovery from Pets to People theme. After receiving his PhD in Biochemistry from Albany Medical College, Spinella performed training fellowships in Cancer Biology and Molecular Therapeutics at the Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, VA and at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He was a member of the faculty in the Department of Pharmacology at Dartmouth Medical School and a member of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center from 1999-2016.