James Mezhir Surgical Oncology Laboratory

  • Research Focus

    Mezhir O'Leary in Lab


    Our biological studies are focused on Free Radical Biology, specifically the biology and therapeutic potential of Extracellular Superoxide Dismutase (EcSOD). Cancer cells create toxic Reactive Oxygen Species (also known as ROS), which make tumor cells more aggressive. ROS allow tumor cells to breakdown the ExtraCellular Matrix (also known as ECM), which increases their ability to spread to other organs. This is a common scenario in patients with pancreatic cancer, especially with regard to tumor cells spreading to the liver. We are utilizing novel delivery vectors to express EcSOD protein within the liver, which can potentially prevent pancreatic cancer metastasis.  


    Dr. Mezhir is a member of the Division of Surgical Oncology and Endocrine Surgery here at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. His primary clinical focus is in pancreatic cancer and related benign and malignant diseases of the pancreas, bile ducts, liver, and upper gastrointestinal system. Dr. Mezhir is the primary investigator for a prospective tissue and data collection protocol Biomarker Evaluation and Specialized Testing of Pancreatic, Biliary, and GI Disorders (BEST). This protocol allows us to collect serum, tissue, and clinical information from all patients we operate on at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. This highly valuable tissue and information can be used to investigate new treatments for patients with pancreatic cancer and related hepatobiliary diseases. Dr. Mezhir also has funding from the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center (Director: George Weiner, MD) for the BEST protocol and for a prospective study investigating pharmacogenomics in pancreatic cancer chemotherapy response.