Yuri Nikiforov, MD, PhD
Professor of Pathology
Vice Chair of Department of Pathology

Dr. Nikiforov is Vice Chair of the Department of Pathology and Division Director of Molecular and Genomic Pathology

Office Location:
Division of Molecular Genomic Pathology
Room 8031
Clinical Lab Building, 8th Floor
3477 Euler Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-802-6083
Fax: 412-802-6799
Email: nikiforovye@upmc.edu

Research Interests

Dr. Nikiforov's research is focuses on thyroid cancer genetics and mechanisms of chromosomal rearrangements and other mutations induced by ionizing radiation in thyroid cells and other cell types. Since 2000, Dr. Nikiforov's research activities have led to three scientific discoveries. These discoveries described below have resulted in more than 100 published papers and form the basis of Dr. Nikiforov's current work.

  1. The discovery that genes that participate in recurrent chromosomal rearrangements in cancer cells are co-localize in the nuclei of normal human cells at the time of exposure to ionizing radiation or other genotoxic stress (Science, 2000, 290:138-141).

  2. The discovery that BRAF oncogene can be activated as a result of chromosomal rearrangement (J Clin Invest, 2005,115:94-101).

  3. The discovery that in thyroid cancer, chromosomal rearrangements represent the main mutational mechanism in tumors arising as a result of exposure to ionizing radiation, whereas point mutations are a mechanism of spontaneous (chemical) carcinogenesis (J Clin Invest, 2005,115:94-101).

Current research activities of Dr. Nikiforov's lab are focused on further understanding the molecular mechanisms of radiation-induced carcinogenesis and chromosomal rearrangements in human cells. Specifically, the studies aim to establish the number of double-strand DNA breaks required for the formation of a chromosomal rearrangement after exposure to ionizing radiation and identify the DNA repair mechanisms involved in this process. The results of this research will allow better understanding of carcinogenesis induced by ionizing radiation and help to develop measures for alleviating and preventing the carcinogenic effect of radiation exposure.

Another direction of Dr. Nikiforov's research is centered on the identification of novel mutations in thyroid cancer using next-generation sequencing and applying the current knowledge in molecular genetics of thyroid cancer to the clinical management of patients with thyroid nodules. Specifically, the studies in progress aim to define the diagnostic utility of molecular markers for preoperative diagnosis of cancer in thyroid fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsies and use of BRAF and other molecular markers for tumor prognostication.

Dr. Nikiforov's Research Laboratory Website:   http://path.upmc.edu/people/ynlab/index.htm

News and Press Releases

Selected Publications

View Dr. Nikiforov's publications on PubMed

Nikiforova MN, Stringer JR, Blough R, Medvedovic M, Fagin JA, Nikiforov YE. Proximity of chromosomal loci that participate in radiation-induced rearrangements in human cells. Science 2000, 290,138-141.

Ciampi R, Knauf JA, Kerler R, Gandhi M, Zhu Z, Nikiforova MN, Rabes HM, Fagin JA, Nikiforov YE. Oncogenic AKAP9-BRAF fusion is a novel mechanism of MAPK pathway activation in thyroid cancer. J Clin Invest 2005,115: 94-101.

Gandhi M, Stringer JR, Medvedovic M, Nikiforov YE. Interphase chromosome folding determines spatial proximity of genes participating in carcinogenic RET/PTC rearrangements. Oncogene 2006, 25:2360-2366.

Nikiforov YE, Steward DL, Robinson-Smith TM, Haugen BR, Klopper JP, Zhu Z, Fagin JA, Falciglia M, Weber K, Nikiforova MN. Molecular testing for mutations in improving the fine needle aspiration diagnosis of thyroid nodules. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009, 94:2092-2098.

Zuo H, Gandhi M, Edreira MM, Hochbaum D, Nimgaonkar VL, Zhang P, Dipaola J, Evdokimova V, Altschuler DL, Nikiforov YE. Downregulation of Rap1GAP through epigenetic silencing and loss of heterozygosity promotes invasion and progression of thyroid tumors. Cancer Res. 2010, 70:1389-97.

Nikiforov YE, Ohori NP, Hodak SP, Carty SE, Lebeau SO, Ferris RL, Yip L, Seethala RR, Tublin ME, Stang MT, Coyne C, Johnson JT, Stewart AF, Nikiforova MN. Impact of Mutational Testing on the Diagnosis and Management of Patients with Cytologically Indeterminate Thyroid Nodules: A Prospective Analysis of 1056 FNA Samples. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011, 96:3390-7.
(Recipient the Endocrine Society's International Award for Publishing Excellence in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2011).

Niemeier LA, Kuffner Akatsu H, Song C, Carty SE, Hodak SP, Yip L, Ferris RL, Tseng GC, Seethala RR, Lebeau SO, Stang MT, Coyne C, Johnson JT, Stewart AF, Nikiforov YE. A combined molecular-pathologic score improves risk stratification of thyroid papillary microcarcinoma. Cancer. 2012, 118:2069-77.

Nikiforov YE, Nikiforova MN. Molecular genetics and diagnosis of thyroid cancer. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011, 30:569-80.

Evdokimova V, Gandhi M, Rayapureddi J, Stringer JR, Nikiforov YE. Formation of carcinogenic chromosomal rearrangements in human thyroid cells after induction of double-strand DNA breaks by restriction endonucleases. Endocrine-Related Cancer 2012 Feb 9. [Epub ahead of print]