Dr. Athanassios Vassilopoulos

2015-16 Lynn Sage Scholar

Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Age and Breast Cancer Prevention


One of the main observations in oncology is that increasing age is the strongest statistical variable that predicts carcinogenesis. Aging is a complex process that appears to be regulated, at least in part, by sirtuins, a relatively new gene family. Dr. Vassilopoulos’ research focuses on the study of the molecular and biochemical connection between sirtuin genes and carcinogenesis as well as tumor cell resistance. His lab is aimed at filling current knowledge gaps in the field of sirtuins, which will provide the basis for developing novel strategies to prevent and/or cure cancer.

As a Lynn Sage Scholar, Dr. Vassilopoulos explored two particular members of the sirtuin family, SIRT2 and SIRT3, in both normal mammary stem cells and breast cancer stem cells. His results provide solid evidence to support a novel role of sirtuins in breast tumor initiation and potential therapeutic applications. His laboratory continues to study and identify new compounds targeted at a subgroup of breast tumors characterized by low expression of sirtuins.

Dr. Vassilopoulos received his Ph.D. in physiology at the University of Athens in Greece. He completed his postdoctoral training in Cancer, Aging, and Metabolism at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.