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David A. Goukassian, MD, PhD

Associate Professor, Center for Translational Medicine

David Goukassian
Contact Information

Contact Information





About Me

Research Interests

  • Stem and progenitor cell biology, therapeutic angiogenesis and tissue regeneration. Since 1998, the focus of my research efforts has been on identifying the role of tumor necrosis alpha (TNF) in ischemia-induced inflammation, tissue regeneration, therapeutic angiogenesis and gene therapy. My research is aimed at development of treatments based on TNF-TNFR1/p55 and -TNFR2/p75 ligand-receptor interaction, specifically, (1) development of therapies to improve post-ischemic repair, regeneration and neovascularization processes; (2) development of universal platform therapeutics to improve stem cell and gene therapy outcomes in damaged tissues. The key finding of my research in this field with major therapeutic implications is that - restoration or overexpression of TNFR2/p75 (gene therapy) or inhibition of TNFR2/p55 (neutralizing antibody or small molecules) improves recovery in damaged tissue through inhibition of prolonged inflammation and cell death, promotion of therapeutic angiogenesis and development of new vascular network, thereby creating tissue environment for recruitment, incorporation and function of endogenous and exogenous stem cells and increasing survival of the resident adult stem cells. This approach will improve stem and progenitor cell-therapy effectiveness and outcomes and could serve as a universal platform therapy for stem cell and gene therapy.
  • Development of novel anticancer therapeutics. Since 2008, I have been working on the development of novel anti-cancer treatment modalities based on inhibition of TNF signaling via selective blocking of one of its receptors (TNFR2 p75) for treatment of various solid human tumors. Our studies showed that when pro-survival TNF2 is blocked in the host (p75 knockout-KO mice) or cancer cells themselves (knockdown TNFR2 in cancers cells using lentiviral p75 shRNA technology) there is very significant inhibition of tumor angiogenesis and more than 50-60% reduction in tumor growth. We have developed new monoclonal antibodies that block the pro-survival p75 receptor of TNF. What we also found is that an initial inhibition of TNFR2 induced the production and release of Tumor Necrosis Factor (death of cancer cells) into tumor tissue.  Therefore, the TNF naturally released by dying tumor cells produce their “own poison”. This approach offers paradigm changing cancer treatment targeting proliferative and silent cancer cells, cancer associated tumor stroma and endothelial cells providing an effective method of “priming the tumor for self-destruction”.
  • Space and Terrestrial Radiobiology. My most research evolved from formal training in DNA damage and repair, genetics and immunology, to a current focus on using integrated physiological approaches along with genomic, proteomic and epigenetic methodologies to understand molecular mechanisms of ionizing space radiation(IR)-induced long term degenerative risks for human body; development and validation of predictive biomarkers for estimation of excess relative risks (ERR); and development of mitigating factors and countermeasures to make future deep-space exploration of Moon and Mars safer. Since 2010 I have been studying cause and effect relationship between space IR and short- and long-term degenerative cardiovascular tissue risks. We found, that low dose exposures of charged particles present in the space IR environment may have significant impact on the cardiovascular system. These studies have significant implications for NASA’s efforts to develop heart disease risk estimates for astronauts, as well as for prevention of radiation-induced cardiovascular diseases in cancer patients receiving conventional and particle radiotherapy.
Education, Training & Credentials

Educational Background

  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, St. Elizabeth's Medical Center, Division of Cardiovascular Reseearch (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute), Boston, MA, 2003
  • Post-doctoral Fellowship, Boston University School of Medicine (NIA T32 Training Grant), Boston, MA, 1999
  • Fellowship, Dermatology for Primary Care Physicians, Belorussian Advanced Training Institute for Physicians, Minsk, Belarus, 1988
  • Residency, Dermatology, Belorussian Advanced Training Institute for Physicians, Minsk, Belarus, 1987
  • Internship, Cardiology, Nephrology, Endocrinology, Yerevan Medical Institute, Yerevan, Armenia, 1985
  • PhD, Central Advanced Training Institute for Physicians, Moscow, Russia, 1992
  • MD, Yerevan Medical University, Yerevan, Armenia, 1985


  • Radiation Research Society, 2010 - present
  • American Heart Association, 2003 - present
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2000 - present

PubMed Publications

View PubMed Publications

Additional Publications

Books, Book Chapters, Monographs

  • Suvorova X.N. and Goukassian D.A.- Textbook for Physicians “Complications of Atopic Dermatitis by Secondary Infection and its Treatment”. -Moscow, 1993.
  • Kishore R,Tkebuchava T, Sasi SP, Silver M, Gilbert H-Y, Yoon Y-S, Park H-Y, Thorne, T, Losordo W, Goukassian DA. Tumor Necrosis Factor-α Signaling Via TNFR1/p55 is Deleterious whereas TNFR2/p75 Signaling is Protective in Adult Infarct Myocardium. Publisher Springer, Adv Exp Med and Biol 691, Chapter 45: pp. 433-48, 2011.
  • Goukassian D.A. Morgan J, Yan X. Neuregulin1-ErbB Signaling in Doxorubicin-Induced Cardiotoxicity. Publisher Intech, Ed.: Manuela Fiuza, Book Chapter in: Cardiotoxicity of Oncologic Treatments. pp. 65-88, 2012.

Non-Pub Med Publications

  • Results of my published work was widely reported and discussed in local, national and international media including – Nature Publishing Group, Lancet Oncology, ASCO - American Society of Clinical Oncology, Daily Telegraph London, Sunday Telegraph London, OncoLink – Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, The Journal Times, The Scientist Journal, Science News online, Medline Plus Technology News, Ananova, MediLexicon, Betterhumans, Boston Herald, Boston Globe, BBS Brasil, Medical News Today, Health Rambler Russia, Medlinks Russia, WolffSystem Germany, Vietnam Net, Pressetext Schweiz Austria, Dermatologie Germany, Saglik Turkey, Wissenschaft Germany, Der Spiegel Germany, Ciencia e Technologia Portugal.
  • The paper Goukassian et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2004 Mar 16 101 (11): 3933-8 was cited by Faculty of 1000 a consortium of faculty member of 1000 research universities worldwide that evaluate research papers on monthly basis according to paper’s originality, hypothesis, novelty and applicability in clinical setting.
  • Podcast cast - Coleman MA, P Sasi S, Onufrak J, Natarajan M, Manickam K, Schwab J, Muralidharan S, Peterson LE, Alekseyev Y, Yan X, Goukassian DA. Low Dose Radiation Affects Cardiac Physiology: Gene Networks and Molecular Signaling in Cardiomyocytes. Am J Physiol - Heart Circ Physiol. Sep 25 2015.