Dr. LaBarbera’s laboratory is engaged in multidisciplinary cancer drug discovery and development, including high-throughput and high-content screening (HTS/HCS); drug design and medicinal chemistry; cancer biology and lead drug mechanism of action determination, and in vitro and in vivo pharmacology. His research program has been continually funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), the State of Colorado, and other significant foundation grants.
Dr. LaBarbera is the founding Director of the Center for Drug Discovery (CDD) established in 2020. The mission of the CDD is to lead a Colorado-wide drug discovery “grassroots” initiative based at CU AMC while encompassing other academic institutions and industries in Colorado. The CDD’s objectives are to facilitate drug discovery and development and become a central hub for drug discovery in Colorado. A major research goal of the CDD is to harness the diverse biology and disease models at CU AMC and throughout Colorado for HTS/HCS drug discovery. Recent funding of the CDD has led to the comprehensive drug discovery and development shared resource (D3SR) that is affiliated with the CDD and the CU Cancer Center. The D3SR features new custom equipment from PerkinElmer, including an Explorer G3 Workstation, Opera Phenix Plus HCS system, a Janus G3, EnVision multimode plate reader, and a custom BioSpot (Tek-Matic/BioFluidix).
Education, Licensure & Certifications
Dr. LaBarbera received his BS degree in biochemistry from Arizona State University (ASU) where he conducted research in the area of cancer drug discovery and medicinal chemistry that was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He continued his education at ASU as a medicinal chemistry PhD graduate student with Professor Edward B. Skibo focused on the synthesis and mechanistic studies of antitumor agents from nature. Dr. LaBarbera completed a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Chris M. Ireland at the University of Utah and the Huntsman Cancer Institute focused on marine natural products drug discovery and multidisciplinary cancer research, receiving a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI).
- Founding Member CU AMC Center for Drug Discovery (CDD)
- Full Member CU Cancer Center, Member of the American Chemical Society (ACS)
- Member of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)
- Member of the Society of Biomolecular Imaging and Informatics (SBI2)
- Adjunct Faculty, Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine
- Faculty Member, Structural Biology and Biochemistry Graduate Program
- Faculty Member, University of Colorado Denver, Chemistry Graduate Program
- Drug Design
- Drug Mechanism(s) of Action
- HTS/HCS Drug Discovery
- In vitro and In vivo Pharmacokinetics and Toxicology
- In vitro and In vivo Pharmacology
- Molecular and Cancer Biology
- Organic and Medicinal Chemistry
Publications and Presentations
- Esquer, H.; Zhou, Q.; Nemkov, T.; Abraham, A.D.; Rinaldetti, S.; Chen, Y.C.; Zhang, X.; Orman, M.V.; D'Alessandro, A.; Ferrer, M.; Messersmith, W.A.; LaBarbera, D.V., Isolating and targeting the real-time plasticity and malignant properties of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer. Oncogene 2021.
- Esquer, H.; Zhou, Q.; Abraham, A.D.; LaBarbera, D.V., Advanced High-Content-Screening Applications of Clonogenicity in Cancer. SLAS Discov 2020, 25, 734-743.
- Abbott, J.M.; Zhou, Q.; Esquer, H.; Pike, L.; Broneske, T.P.; Rinaldetti, S.; Abraham, A.D.; Ramirez, D.A.; Lunghofer, P.J.; Pitts, T.M.; Regan, D.P.; Tan, A.C.; Gustafson, D.L.; Messersmith, W.A.; LaBarbera, D.V., First-in-Class Inhibitors of Oncogenic CHD1L with Preclinical Activity against Colorectal Cancer. Mol Cancer Ther 2020, 19, 1598-1612.
- Abraham, A.D.; Esquer, H.; Zhou, Q.; Tomlinson, N.; Hamill, B.D.; Abbott, J.M.; Li, L.; Pike, L.A.; Rinaldetti, S.; Ramirez, D.A.; Lunghofer, P.J.; Gomez, J.D.; Schaack, J.; Nemkov, T.; D'Alessandro, A.; Hansen, K.C.; Gustafson, D.L.; Messersmith, W.A.; LaBarbera, D.V., Drug Design Targeting T-Cell Factor-Driven Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition as a Therapeutic Strategy for Colorectal Cancer. J Med Chem 2019, 62, 10182-10203.
- Li, L.; LaBarbera, D.V., 2.16 - 3D High-Content Screening of Organoids for Drug Discovery A2 - Chackalamannil, Samuel. In Comprehensive Medicinal Chemistry III, Rotella, D.; Ward, S.E., Eds. Elsevier: Oxford, 2017; pp 388-415.
- Zhou, Q.; Abraham, A.D.; Li, L.; Babalmorad, A.; Bagby, S.; Arcaroli, J.J.; Hansen, R.J.; Valeriote, F.A.; Gustafson, D.L.; Schaack, J.; Messersmith, W.A.; LaBarbera, D.V., Topoisomerase IIα mediates TCF-dependent epithelial-mesenchymal transition in colon cancer. Oncogene 2016, 35, 4990-4999.
- Li, L.; Zhou, Q.; Voss, T.C.; Quick, K.L.; LaBarbera, D.V., High-throughput imaging: Focusing in on drug discovery in 3D. Methods 2016, 96, 97-102.
- Reid, B.G.; Jerjian, T.; Patel, P.; Zhou, Q.; Yoo, B.H.; Kabos, P.; Sartorius, C.A.; Labarbera, D.V., Live multicellular tumor spheroid models for high-content imaging and screening in cancer drug discovery. Curr Chem Genomics Transl Med 2014, 8, 27-35.
- LaBarbera, D.V.; Reid, B.G.; Yoo, B.H., The multicellular tumor spheroid model for high-throughput cancer drug discovery. Expert Opin Drug Dis 2012, 0, 1-12.
- Li, Q.; Chen, C.; Kapadia, A.; Zhou, Q.; Harper, M.K.; Schaack, J.; LaBarbera, D.V., 3D Models of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer metastasis: high-throughput screening assay development, validation, and pilot screen. J Biomol Screen (Now SLAS Discovery) 2011, 16, 141-154.