The Laboratory

This research laboratory, was established with the goal of developing a screening test for early pancreatic cancer -- "just as men have a PSA test for prostate cancer, so too do we want a test for early pancreatic cancer." We want to help high-risk individuals detect the disease at an early asymptomatic stage, before it is too late

This laboratory was established thanks in large measure to the national pancreatic cancer organization, PanCAN.

The Research

The laboratory has been taking several approaches towards the goal of early detection. The approaches include detecting proteins made by early cancers, detecting DNA mutations specific to cancer, and detecting subtle changes to DNA, called DNA methylation.

For example, we are studying gene and protein patterns of pancreatic cancers using microarray technology to discover proteins that are made at higher levels in the cancers than in normal cells. If these proteins are released into the blood, then the protein could serve as the basis for a blood test for early pancreatic cancer.

Similarly, scientists in the early detection lab have identified a profile of genes that are abnormally methylated in pancreatic cancer. If released into the blood, these too could be useful markers for early detection.


Dr. Michael Goggins' early detection laboratory at Hopkins is completely dedicated to developing a new screening test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer. Just as there is a PSA test for prostate cancer, so too is Dr. Goggins' lab dedicated to developing an effective screening test for pancreatic cancer. Dr. Goggins and his colleagues have demonstrated that DNA abnormalities shed from pancreatic cancers can be detected in the stool, duodenal fluid and blood of patients with pancreatic cancer. His lab hopes to use the DNA discoveries made by Dr. Kern as the basis for a new screening test. Dr. Goggins is also researching protein biomarkers, as well as abnormalities in DNA methylation as potential early detection tests.

Dr. Akhilesh Pandey is in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine and Departments of Biological Chemistry and Oncology. Dr. Pandey's research focuses on the use of mass spectrometry to identify biomarkers in pancreatic cancers. This field of research is known as "proteomics." He also uses bioinformatics, large databases and genome annotation approaches to understand better the causes of pancreatic cancer.

Michael Goggins, M.B.B.Ch., M.D.

The Director

Dr. Michael Goggins is the Director of the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Laboratory. Dr. Goggins is currently the Sol Goldman Professor for Pancreatic Cancer Research here at Hopkins. He is a Gastroenterologist and molecular biologist.