Emory School of Medicine
Associate Director, Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellowship Program - Research
Emory School of Medicine
Dr. Taofeek Owonikoko obtained his primary Medical Degree from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife Nigeria in 1991. He received specialty training in Anatomic Pathology at the Lagos University Hospital, Lagos Nigeria and at the Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf, Germany. He also completed doctoral research work and obtained his PhD in Anatomic Pathology from the Heinrich Heine University, Germany from where he was recruited to the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore in 2000 as a postdoctoral fellow in nuclear imaging. He subsequently completed a residency training in Internal Medicine at the Graduate Hospital of Drexel University in Philadelphia from 2002 to 2005. His clinical fellowship training in Hematology and Oncology took place at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center from 2005-2008. Dr. Owonikoko has been designated a Distinguished Cancer Scholar by the Georgia Cancer Coalition since 2008 when he joined the staff of Emory University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Hematology & Medical Oncology. Dr. Owonikoko has participated in many training workshops devoted to clinical and translational research. He was a participant in the world-famous VAIL training workshop jointly sponsored by AACR/ASCO. He also participated in the visiting physician program of the Investigational Drug Branch of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda as well as in the FDA-sponsored Clinical Investigator Training workshop.
The goal of Dr. Owonikoko’s translational research work is to develop new treatment options for patients with small cell lung cancer and thyroid cancer. His laboratory effort in this area is focused on understanding the role of immune function in thyroid cancer biology and patient outcome. He is also conducting early preclinical and animal studies to explore the efficacy of biologic agents such as mTOR inhibitors and epigenetic targeted therapy as a way to validate the potential benefits of these agents prior to human testing. He currently leads the thyroid oncology translational research at the Winship Cancer Institute where he designs and leads clinical trials of novel and established anticancer agents. He received a career development award grant through the Emory Head & Neck Cancer SPORE grant to study the role of immune dysfunction in thyroid cancer patients. He also designed and is the lead Principal Investigator for a phase II trial of two novel biologic agents, everolimus and pasireotide, in patients with thyroid cancer. This study is the first of its kind in this patient population.
Dr. Owonikoko’s other major focus in small cell lung cancer has also resulted in innovative translational (bench to bedside) work. He was the recipient of an NIH minority supplement grant to the parent P01 lung cancer grant to support his lab work devoted to elucidating the biology of mTOR signaling in small cell lung cancer. His lab research into the ability of PARP enzyme inhibitors to enhance the efficacy of standard chemotherapy agents for small cell lung cancer informed the design of a multicenter phase II clinical trial to be led by Dr. Owonikoko. This study will be conducted through the mechanisms of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) in collaboration with other leading academic and community cancer centers across the entire United States.
Dr. Owonikoko has published more than 20 peer‐reviewed original papers and reviews in leading journals including the premier oncology journal, Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) and has authored or co-authored more than 30 abstracts for presentations at professional meetings. He has participated and continues to serve on local institutional and national and international bodies, including ongoing service as co-Chairman of the Winship Cancer Institute Clinical and Translational Review Committee as well as past service as a session co-chair at the Annual Meeting of the America Association of Clinical Oncology and a member of the pulmonary working group responsible for the latest version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) developed by the National Cancer Institute for reporting adverse events during clinical trials worldwide. Dr. Owonikoko actively collaborates with other talented Emory faculty members and Core Directors including Dr. Edmund Waller (Immunology), Dr. Shi-Yong Sun (Basic Science), Drs. Anthony Gal, Gabe Sica and Cynthia Cohen (Pathology), Dr. Adam Marcus (Cell Imaging) and Michael Rossi, PhD (Cancer Genomics).
Dr. Owonikoko is a physician scientist with increasing national recognition as a future leader in the field of thoracic oncology and developmental therapeutics. He is an important member of the Winship Cancer Institute and supports the mission and vision of the cancer center through his key role in the Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics program.
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