Piskounova Lab

Targeting Metastasis

Any scientist of any age who wants to make important discoveries must study important problems. Dull or piffling problems yield dull or piffling answers. It is not enough that a problem should be “interesting.” … The problem must be such that it matters what the answer is—whether to science generally or to mankind.

— Sir Peter B. Medawar

Why study metastasis?

The main cause of death in cancer patients is the spread of cancer cells from the original tumor site to vital organs in the body. This process is called metastasis. Yet there are no therapies that specifically target metastatic cancer cells. Current chemotherapies target the original tumor but also poison normal cells in the body, limiting the efficacy of treatment and leading to toxic side effects. A possible way to circumvent this problem is to target the specific vulnerabilities of metastasizing cells. It is therefore imperative for us to better understand the molecular processes used by

The Piskounova lab is interested in understanding the molecular plasticity of metastasizing cancer cells using patient-derived tumor models of melanoma and pancreatic cancer. We are focused on understanding molecular mechanisms that enable spread and survival of cancer cells to vital organs during advanced metastatic disease. We use patient derived-xenografts of melanoma and pancreatic cancer in vivo and cell culture systems in vitro to functionally identify molecular pathways that enable cancer cells to progress through different steps of the metastatic cascade. Recently, our lab has expanded its interests to include specific interactions that occur between the pro- and anti-tumorigenic components of the immune system and microenvironment and metastasizing cancer cells. 

We are looking for talented scientists


If you are a Weill Cornell Medicine or Tri-I graduate student from any program, consider joining our lab and feel free to get in touch! The Piskounova Lab is part of the BCMB allied program.


We welcome exceptional researchers at all levels to apply for positions in our lab and are actively looking for postdoctoral researchers. Please email your CV and a brief description of research interests and background to Elena Piskounova elp2025@med.cornell.edu and arrange to have 3 letters of reference emailed directly to elp2025@med.cornell.edu