Using Therapeutic Vitamin D Receptors to Make Pancreatic Cancer Immunotherapies more effective

Dr. Daniel Von Hoff, MD, FACP

Translational Genomics Research InstituteView Bio

Daniel D. Von Hoff, MD, FACP, is physician-in-chief and distinguished professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix, Arizona, chief scientific officer at HonorHealth and US Oncology, and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic.

Von Hoff graduated from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. He went on to complete his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a fellowship in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute. Von Hoff became a professor in the departments of medicine and cellular and structural biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. In 1989, he became the founding director of the Institute for Drug Development at the Cancer Therapy and Research Center in San Antonio, and 10 years later became the director of the cancer center and professor of medicine at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Von Hoff’s major interest is in the development of new anticancer agents, both in the clinic and in the laboratory. He and his colleagues were involved in the beginning of the development of many of the agents we now use routinely, including: mitoxantrone, fludarabine, paclitaxel, docetaxel, gemcitabine, alemtuzumib, clofarabine, irinotecan, nelarabine, capecitabine, lapatinib, vismodegib, nal-iri, and others. Three of these agents have led to improvements in survival for patients with pancreatic cancer (gemcitabine, nab-paclitaxel and nal-iri). At present, he and his colleagues are concentrating on the development of molecularly targeted therapies for patients with pancreatic and other advanced cancers.

Dr. Von Hoff has published more than 648 papers, 138 book chapters, and over 1,085 abstracts. Dr. Von Hoff received the 2010 David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology for his outstanding contributions to cancer research leading to significant improvement in patient care.

Dr. Von Hoff was appointed to President Bush’s National Cancer Advisory Board (2004-2010). Dr. Von Hoff is the past president of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the world’s largest cancer research organization, a fellow of the AACR Academy, a fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a member and past board member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Dr. Von Hoff is founder and the editor emeritus of Investigational New Drugs, The Journal of New Anticancer Agents, and past editor-in-chief of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. He is a co-founder of the AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop. He is also proud to have been a mentor and teacher for multiple medical students, medical oncology fellows, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows.

View Full Team

Meet the Team

  • Daniel D. Von Hoff, MD, The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
  • Haiyong Han, PhD, The Translational Genomics Research Institute
  • Ronald Evans, PhD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • Michael Downes, PhD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies
  • Michael Barrett, PhD, Mayo Clinic Arizona
  • Erkut Borazanci, MD, Honor Health Research Institute
  • Andrew M. Lowy, MD, University of California, San Diego
  • Vincent Chung, MD, City of Hope
  • Ronald Korn, MD, PhD, Imaging Endpoints Research & Core Lab
  • Winnie Liang, PhD, The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
  • Hitendra Patel, MD, UCSD Moores Cancer Center
  • Talima Pearson, PhD, The Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
  • Morgan Truitt, PhD, Salk Research Institute


  • Patient Advocates: Roger Magowitz, Howard Young
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About This SU2C Catalyst Clinical Trial

Are you or a loved one currently facing advanced pancreatic cancer? Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) is supporting a clinical trial that may benefit patients with advanced pancreatic cancer and make dramatic gains for patient outcomes for this deadly disease.

What is immunotherapy?

The use of medicines to stimulate a person’s own immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively.

Immunotherapies have shown benefits across a range of human cancers, but so far have not worked well in pancreatic cancer patients. Recent evidence suggests that one major roadblock for the effective use of immunotherapies in pancreatic cancer patients is that the tumors are effectively hidden, preventing the immune system from recognizing and killing them. Research from our team suggests that therapies targeting the vitamin D receptor will perhaps “unmask” the pancreatic tumors and allow the immune cells to reach them, creating the possibility that immunotherapies will be effective.

The goal of this clinical trial is to test if targeting the vitamin D receptor will unlock the potential of immunotherapies to kill pancreatic cancer tumor cells and potentially establish a therapeutic combination for controlling advanced pancreatic cancer, extending patient survival, and reducing patient side effects. Additionally, we hope to identify features that drive patient responses to immunotherapy and gain insight into additional strategies for converting immunotherapy resistant tumors into tumors that
respond to treatment.

We Need You

Why Your Participation Matters

While current treatment regimens for advanced pancreatic cancer can achieve remission, keeping the cancer under control continues to be a challenge. A relatively nontoxic therapy is needed to keep the cancer in remission. This study has the potential to help establish a therapeutic combination for controlling advanced pancreatic cancer, while reducing negative side effects for patients.

Key Insights for Participants


Patients with confirmed diagnosis of Stage IV pancreatic cancer that have obtained a stable disease, or partial response with no further shrinkage.

Key criteria are summarized below and can be found in detail on Interested patients will need to review their medical histories with clinical trial patient coordinators before they can be accepted to participate in this trial.

Female or Male
Age Range:
18 years and older
Stage lV pancreatic cancer in stable disease, or partial response.


Participants must have obtained stable disease, or partial response for a period of two months with no further shrinkage.

Participants must have adequate organ function to participate.

Participants cannot be participating in another clinical trial with an investigative treatment or device within the four weeks prior to study participation.

Participants must be able to return to the clinical trial site for visits three times a week for the duration of the study participation.

Patients must be willing and able to supply tumor tissue through a biopsy for study analyses.

Female and male participants of childbearing potential must be willing to use adequate contraception for the course of the study through 120 days after the last dose of study medication.


You play a vital role.

Here are the locations where you can currently participate in this clinical trial. If you, or a loved one is interested in enrolling and learning more about this study, please contact your preferred site listed below to get in touch with a patient coordinator. The patient coordinator is there to help you understand every aspect of the clinical trial process and can answer any questions you may have.

Once you contact the patient coordinator, he or she will start by reviewing your medical history with you to see whether you meet all the criteria to participate. The coordinator will then guide you through a review of the study and detailed “informed consent” documents that are required when you enroll in a clinical trial.

Scottsdale - Arizona

HonorHealth Research Institute
Joyce Schaffer, RN
P: 480-323-1339
Principle Investigators: Erkut Borazanci, MD and Gayle Jameson, ACNP-BC AOCN

Duarte - California

City of Hope National Medical Center
Isma Hafeez
P: 626-218-5013
Principal Investigator: Vincent Chung, MD

Morristown - New Jersey

Morristown Medical Center
Nancy Grinder, RN
P: 973-971-6608


Support for this study comes from Merck and AbbVie.
Learn more about Merck +Learn more about AbbVie +
Here are some links to informational videos and organizations that provide more information about this study, and may provide information on patient support, treatment options, and current clinical trials.
Lustgarten Foundation +
For additional resources, please visit +

Find out if there's a trial for you. Reach out today.

Even if you do not meet the requirements for this trial, there may be other trials for you. Get started with the SU2C Clinical Trial Finder, a free and confidential cancer clinical trial matching and referral service.

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