Joseph Ippolito, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Cancer Biology Program
Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program
Neurosciences Program

  • 314 362-2928

  • 8131 Radiology

  • 318 Biotechnology Building



  • cancer, metabolism, imaging, sex differences, glioblastoma

  • Precision medicine through metabolism-based imaging and therapy: from laboratory to clinical translation

Research Abstract:

My laboratory, centered in cancer metabolism, merges clinical metabolic imaging (e.g., hyperpolarized MRI, PET, CT), metabolomics, and metabolically-driven therapeutics to develop new paradigms in precision medicine. Our goal is to identify key metabolic pathways that support metabolic compartments in tumors, understand how nutrients are shared among these compartments, and develop / repurpose imaging methods and therapeutics that can target these compartments.

The primary goal of this lab is to perform preclinical, translational, and clinical investigations into sex differences in cancer metabolism. In cancers throughout the body, males not only have a higher incidence, but higher mortality than women. Although the reason for this is not yet clear, sex differences in nutrient uptake and metabolism are seen early in development and are carried into adulthood. My group is identifying specific metabolic pathways that underlie this phenomenon, operating under the hypothesis that sex differences in nutrient uptake and metabolism underlie sex differences in survival. To accomplish this, we are using novel mouse models to study sex differences in brain tumors in combination with stable isotopes, mass spectrometry, NMR, and metabolic PET tracers to understand sex differences in cancer metabolism from both a tumor-centric and body-centric approach.

Another major project of the lab is centered on our recent discovery that there are unique extracellular glycans (sugar polymers) and extracellular matrix proteins that signify a particularly lethal variant of prostate cancer. In collaboration with other WUSTL and external investigators, we are merging new clinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tools with spatially-resolved molecular/metabolic mass spectrometry imaging, histopathology, and neural networks that will allow us to predict the cellular and molecular composition of prostate cancer noninvasively in humans.

On the clinical end, we are repurposing both drugs used for metabolic diseases such as diabetes (e.g. SGLT2 inhibitors) and popular diets (e.g. the ketogenic diet) as adjunct therapies to improve response. We are completing phase 1 clinical trials, anticipating rapid escalation to higher level trials.

Selected Publications:

Last Updated: 5/17/2022 2:48:42 PM

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