The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Nick Dervisis, an assistant professor of oncology with the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, who studies how to effectively treat dogs and cats with cancer by understanding their genetic makeup.
He models tumor-growth processes in spontaneously arising canine and feline cancers, and studies genetic differences in metabolic pathways that affect individual responses to anti-cancer drugs, whether it is a helpful therapeutic effect or an undesirable side effect.
His work is part of the Department of Small Animal Clinical Services’ oncology program, which provides a care for four-legged patients with and without a cancer diagnosis, including biopsy, imaging, treatment, and surgery.
Dervisis does clinical trials research in pet animals, in some instances removing a small amount of tumor tissue for genetic analysis to understand why some animal breeds are resistant to standard drug therapies.
In addition, he is investigating a gold nanoparticle-based technique that aims to destroy tumor cells while limiting damage to healthy tissue. The approach has the potential to directly benefit animals with cancer, as well as indirectly benefit human cancer patients by advancing our knowledge of cancer therapy.
Dervisis comes to the veterinary college from the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University, where he held positions as assistant professor, researcher, and medical oncology resident. Prior to that, he was a research assistant at the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
He received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and is board-certified in oncology from the American College of Veterinary Medicine. He received a doctorate in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.