Pancreatic Cancer Research

Learn more about pancreatic cancer research at the Rudy L. Ruggles Biomedical Research Institute.

The Rudy L. Ruggles Research Institute at Nuvance Health™ conducts research on pancreatic cancer to improve early detection for high-risk patients.

The pancreatic cancer research team at Nuvance Health focuses on early detection for high-risk patients.

Current Challenges in Pancreatic Cancer

There are no blood tests or radiological imaging scans to detect pancreatic cancer before it has reached an incurable stage. After diagnosis, no tests are available to identify those patients who could benefit from chemotherapy, which has side effects. Another challenge in treating pancreatic cancer is assessing how well patients respond to treatment.

Identifying Biomarkers

Researchers are discovering new blood biomarkers unique to each patient to measure the presence or progress of pancreatic cancer. These biomarkers may aid in early diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of response to treatment.

Pancreatic Cancer Screening Study

Nuvance Health is conducting a clinical study to detect pancreatic cancer in high-risk patients. People over 50 years of age are at greater risk for pancreatic cancer in the first three years after a diagnosis of diabetes. This multidisciplinary, collaborative study involves primary care doctors, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, radiologists, surgeons, medical oncologists and genetic counselors, all affiliated with Nuvance Health.

Researchers are assessing the use of MRI exams as a screening tool to detect pancreatic lesions. They are also investigating the newly discovered ncRNA circulating biomarker profile for screening of high-risk patients. Study participants donate a sample of blood every six months for three years.

Blood samples are banked in the newly developed biorepository at the Rudy L. Ruggles Nuvance Health Biomedical Research Institute. The blood-based diagnostic test will be used to identify patients who are at high risk of pancreatic cancer and should undergo regular screenings.

Participating in Pancreatic Cancer Research

The Rudy L. Ruggles Biomedical Research Institute works closely with Nuvance Health oncologists to find research participants. If you have pancreatic cancer, ask your Nuvance Health care team if you are eligible for any research studies. Learn more about the Nuvance Health Cancer Institute™.


The Pancreatic Cancer Research Team

Richard Frank, MD, Director of Clinical Cancer Research

Dr. Frank is a physician-scientist and clinical researcher who has led basic science and clinical research projects in a variety of oncologic disciplines. During the past five years, he has devoted his research efforts to high-impact translational projects in pancreatic cancer. He has authored several investigator-initiated clinical trials, started and overseen a pancreatic cancer patient biobank with more than 2,100 stored samples. He has also led a laboratory research group studying the role of extracellular vesicles in pancreatic cancer.


Deep Pandya, MS, Research Associate

Deep Pandya is a researcher in bioinformatics and clinical statistics with 12 publications and a decade of experience. He has expertise in analysis of all NGS data types as well as proteomics data. His recent focus involves analyzing and predicting biomarkers for early detection of endometrial, ovarian cancer and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma using all molecular data types and novel predictive algorithms.


  1. Frank RC, Dugho J, Lo T, et al. A Pancreatic cancer screening study in high-risk individuals including those with new-onset diabetes. [Abstract] 5th NCI Pancreatic Cancer Symposium, Bethesda MD, 2018
  2. Martino C, Lobo S, Pandya D, Frank R. Developing a specific and sensitive method for extracellular vesicle isolation and small-RNA library preparation for next-generation sequencing. [Abstract] New York Academy of Sciences, Conference on Extracellular Vesicles in Diagnostics and Therapeutics, 2019
  3. Martino C, Pandya D, Lee R, Levy G, Lo T, Lobo S, Frank RC. ATM-mutated pancreatic cancer: Clinical and molecular response to gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel after genome-based therapy resistance. Pancreas 49: 143-147, 2020.
  4. Alpertunga I, Sadiq R, Pandya D, Lo T, Frank RC, et al. Glycemic control as an early prognostic marker in advanced pancreatic cancer. Frontiers in Oncology: Cell Metabolism, in press, 2021.