Elena Kurenova, PhD

Adjunct Faculty
Department of Cell Stress Biology
Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Dr. Elena Kurenova joined the staff of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in 2009 as a research scientist and Associate Professor of Oncology in the Department of Surgical Oncology. Dr. Kurenova came to RPCI from the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, where she served as a research assistant professor in the Department of Surgery.

Dr. Kurenova earned her doctoral degree at the Moscow State University, Russia in 1991 and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Research Triangle Park, NC (1997) and at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC (2001).

Dr. Kurenova’s research is focused on Focal Adhesion Kinase (FAK) - tyrosine kinase that functions as a key orchestrator of signals leading to survival of cancer cells, invasion and metastasis. FAK interacts with a number of critical proteins involved in survival signaling in cancer cells, some of which were discovered by phage display approach. Dr. Kurenova’s research team hypothesized that targeting a protein-protein interface with drug-like small molecules is a feasible strategy for inhibiting tumor growth. They aim to elucidate the mechanisms of these FAK-related survival signals and develop novel therapeutic strategies to inhibit this signaling in human tumors. They selected small molecule that disrupts protein-protein interaction of FAK with VEGFR3 and causes cancer cell death in vitro and in vivo. Her research has shown that serine/threonine kinase RIP - a major component of the death receptor complex, binds to FAK. Her research efforts have led to the hypothesis that this interaction is a critical component for suppressing apoptosis in tumor cells. Her laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanism of FAK-RIP interaction and signaling which may provide a molecular basis for the development of new cancer therapeutics.

Dr. Kurenova is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Dr. Kurenova has authored or co-authored more than 40 journal publications, book chapters and abstracts. She is an ad hoc reviewer for the Annals of Surgical Oncology, Clinical Oncology, Medicinal Chemistry and Oncogene.