Toretsky Lab

Our laboratory links together basic biophysical phenomena to create new drugs for pediatric cancer. It's a creative, multidisciplinary challenge.

-Jeffrey Toretsky, MD

Check out the News Link for additional information and  feature lab stories!

AUGUST, 2023

Local Hyundai Dealerships Dontae $50,000.00 to Pediatric Cancer Research through Hyundai Hope on Wheels! Georgetown University and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center recently accepted the generous donation at the US Open! Thank you Kevin Reilly and Alexandria Hyundai!

JUNE, 2023

Lab members attended and presented posters at the 7th Annual CCF Research Symposium on June 14th, 2023.

JUNE, 2023

Lab members gathered at Rock Creek Park for an annual Lab Picnic! A wonderful spread of dishes were prepared by lab members who were joined by family and canine friends. A rousing Viking Chess tournament completed the days festivities. Thank you for your participation and special thanks to Dr. Toretsky and Dr. Uren for hosting the event!


Team Georgetown Lombardi, which included Jeff Petro, Emre Deniz and Alan Zwart, won this year’s Hyundai Hands on Hope contest at the Washington, DC Auto Show.


Research Grant Award: Hyundai Grant

The Toretsky Lab has received a $300,000.00 Research Grant from the Hyundai Hope on Wheels Foundation for the proposal, Dissecting the role that therapeutic targeting of mRNA splicing in Ewing sarcoma. The award period will span from January 2023 - December 2024. 

AUGUST, 2022

The Toretsky Lab welcomes Emma McGuire, who joins the lab as a Research Assistant. Welcome Emma!

JUNE 2022

The Toretsky Lab welcomes Ashley Gaffey, who joins the lab as a Research Assistant. Welcome Ashley!

JUNE 2022

Lab members attended and presented posters at the 6th Annual CCF Research Symposium held on June 8th. 

MAY, 2022

Dr. Toretsky and Dr. Uren attended the  AACR Special Conference on Sarcomas in Montreal, QC, Canada. 


The Toretsky Lab completed the installation of a new SpectraMax® iD3 multi-mode plate reader capable of measuring absorbance, fluorescence, and luminescence. 


Dr. Toretsky visited Dr. Sardjito General Hospital in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, as a visiting physician and to present a talk on his experience as a clinical research physician. 

DECEMBER 10, 2021

Dr. Toretsky was invited to give a talk at the Bone Cancer Research Trust for their James Ewing Century Meeting. His talk, titled "From James Ewing to a Clinical Trial: 100 years to improve survival for Ewing sarcoma patients," was given via video conference to the group in Essen, Germany.

NOVEMBER 5, 2021

Dr. Toretsky was invited to give a keynote talk at the Australia-New Zealand Sarcoma Association. His talk, titled "From Napkin to Clinical Trial: a 20-year Quest to Improve Survival for Ewing Sarcoma Patients," was given via video conference to the group in Melbourne, Australia.

JUNE, 2021

The Toretsky Lab welcomes Olivia Oakley, who joins the lab as a Research Assistant. Welcome Olivia!

MAY, 2021

Research Assistant Olivia Blumberg was named the St Baldrick's Research Fellow at Georgetown, which supported her project in the lab over the Summer of 2021. Congratulations, Olivia!


Garrett Graham graduated from Georgetown University with his PhD in Tumor Biology - his thesis titled "Cassette Exon RNA Splicing Altered in Ewing Sarcoma Is Characterized by Higher Guanine-Cytosine Content and Lower Splice Site Strength Indicative of Intron-Definition Splicing." Congratulations, Garrett!

OCTOBER 16, 2020

Dr. Toretsky was invited to give a keynote talk at the Bone Cancer Research Trust Conference in London, UK via video conference. His talk was titled "From Napkin to Clinical Trial: Creating a Drug for Ewing Sarcoma."

JULY, 2020

R01 Funding Award! Dr. Toretsky in collaboration with researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada have secured R01  funding with the grant  Dissection of EWS-FLI1 oncogenic mechanisms and small molecule targeting. The award period will span from July 2020 - June 2025. 

JUNE, 2020

Jeff Petro was promoted to the position of Lab Manager! Congratulations, Jeff!

MAY, 2020

Lab member Jessica Haladyna  graduated from the Georgetown University School of Medicine, and is now completing her Pediatric Residency Training at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA Class of 2023). Congratulations, Jessica!

AUGUST 12, 2019

Dr. Toretsky was invited to give a keynote talk at the Children's Cancer Therapy Development Institute in Portland Oregon at their annual Nanocourse. His talk was titled "From Idea on a Napkin to Clinical Trial: Creating a Drug for a Rare Cancer". 

MAY 14-15, 2019

Dr. Toretsky was an invited participant and speaker at the NCI-sponsored workshop, "Liquid Phase Condensation as a Cellular Regulatory Mechanism: A State of the Science and Implications for Cancer Research." His talk was titled "EWS-FLI1, RHA Helicase A, Splicing regulators and Phase Separation: What’s in the droplet and how might it function?" For more information on Protein Phase Separation check out this review in Cell

AUGUST, 2018

Dr. Kalliopi Tsafou, a post-doc in our laboratory, penned a brilliant review that discusses the possibilities of targeted transcription factors. Transcription factors have been called undruggable, but we did not believe it. Read our review in the Journal of Molecular Biology

APRIL 23, 2017

Dr. Toretsky presented a talk titled “Targeting EWS-FLI1 in Ewing Sarcoma” at the annual American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in Chicago, IL

FEB 24-26, 2017

The first Phase Separation and RNA Processing as Drivers of Cancer and Neurodegenerative Disease Conference took place in La Jolla, CA led by co-organizers Jeff Toretsky and Aaron Hosking.  An NIH R13, Burroughs-Wellcome Grant, and corporate support provided funding for the meeting.

FEB 6, 2017

A great article from STAT about Dr. Toretsky’s “Odyssey” to commercialize the molecule that he and the lab discovered for Ewing Sarcoma.  Enjoy the full article here.


Saravana Selvanatha was promoted to Research Assistant Professor! Congratulations, Saravana!

AUGUST 31, 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Saravana Selvanathan, PhD., for receiving a travel award to attend the 2016 Bermuda Principals Impact on Splicing Conference!  The conference will take place November 8-10, 2016 on the exotic island of Bermuda!  Congratulations Saravana!

May 16, 2016

Dr. Toretsky will present a talk “Small Molecule Targeting of the Intrinsically Disordered Oncoprotein EWS-FLI1” at the Intrinsically Disordered Proteins Gordon Research Conference.  The conference will be held in Les Diableretes, Switzerland, June 26 – July 1, 2016.

OCT 26, 2015

The 2015 Winner of the NFL Players Association Georgetown Lombardi Award, Devon Still, Visits our lab and meets Dr. Toretsky.

SEPT 16, 2015

Congratulations to Dr. Toretsky, who was honored by Hyundai Hope on Wheels at an outdoor ceremony at Georgetown Lombardi. 



Graham, Garrett & Selvanathan, Saravana & Zöllner, Stefan & Stahl, Emily & Shlien, Adam & Caplen, Natasha & Üren, Aykut & Toretsky, Jeffrey. (2022). Comprehensive profiling of mRNA splicing indicates that GC content signals altered cassette exon inclusion in Ewing sarcoma. NAR Cancer. 4. 10.1093/narcan/zcab052. 


Zöllner SK, Amatruda JF, Bauer S, Collaud S, de Álava E, DuBois SG, Hardes J, Hartmann W, Kovar H, Metzler M, Shulman DS, Streitbürger A, Timmermann B, Toretsky JA, Uhlenbruch Y, Vieth V, Grünewald TGP, Dirksen U. Ewing Sarcoma-Diagnosis, Treatment, Clinical Challenges and Future Perspectives. J Clin Med. 2021 Apr 14;10(8):1685. DOI: 10.3390/jcm10081685. PMCID: PMC8071040. PMID: 33919988


Saygideger-Kont Y, Minas TZ, Jones H, Hour S, Celik H, Temel I, Han J, Atabey N, Erkizan HV, Toretsky JA, Üren A. Ezrin Enhances EGFR Signaling and Modulates Erlotinib Sensitivity in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Cells. Neoplasia. 2016 Feb;18(2):111-20. doi: 10.1016/j.neo.2016.01.002. PubMed PMID: 26936397. 


Minas TZ, Han J, Javaheri T, Hong SH, Schlederer M, Saygide?er-Kont Y, Celik H, Mueller KM, Temel I, Özdemirli M, Kovar H, Erkizan HV, Toretsky J, Kenner L, Moriggl R, Üren A. YK-4-279 effectively antagonizes EWS-FLI1 induced leukemia in a transgenic mouse model. Oncotarget. 2015 Nov 10;6(35):37678-94. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.5520. PubMed PMID: 26462019; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4741957.

Zöllner SK, Rössig C, Toretsky JA. Synovial sarcoma is a gateway to the role of chromatin remodeling in cancer. Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2015 Sep;34(3):417-28. doi: 10.1007/s10555-015-9575-z. PubMed PMID: 26277104.

Selvanathan SP, Graham GT, Erkizan HV, Dirksen U, Natarajan TG, Dakic A, Yu S, Liu X, Paulsen MT, Ljungman ME, Wu CH, Lawlor ER, Üren A, Toretsky JA. Oncogenic fusion protein EWS-FLI1 is a network hub that regulates alternative splicing. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Mar 17;112(11):E1307-16. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500536112. Epub 2015 Mar 3. PubMed PMID: 25737553; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4371969.

Erkizan HV, Schneider JA, Sajwan K, Graham GT, Griffin B, Chasovskikh S, Youbi SE, Kallarakal A, Chruszcz M, Padmanabhan R, Casey JL, Üren A, Toretsky JA. RNA helicase A activity is inhibited by oncogenic transcription factor EWS-FLI1.Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Jan;43(2):1069-80. doi: 10.1093/nar/gku1328. Epub 2015 Jan 6. PubMed PMID: 25564528; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4333382.

Celik H, Sajwan KP, Selvanathan SP, Marsh BJ, Pai AV, Kont YS, Han J, Minas TZ, Rahim S, Erkizan HV, Toretsky JA, Üren A. Ezrin Binds to DEAD-Box RNA Helicase DDX3 and Regulates Its Function and Protein Level. Mol Cell Biol. 2015 Sep;35(18):3145-62. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00332-15. Epub 2015 Jul 6. PubMed PMID: 26149384; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4539380.


Toretsky JA, Wright PE. Assemblages: functional units formed by cellular phase separation. J Cell Biol. 2014 Sep 1;206(5):579-88. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201404124. Review. PubMed PMID: 25179628; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4151146.

Shah N, Wang J, Selich-Anderson J, Graham G, Siddiqui H, Li X, Khan J, Toretsky J. PBX1 is a favorable prognostic biomarker as it modulates 13-cis retinoic acid-mediated differentiation in neuroblastoma. Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Aug 15;20(16):4400-12. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-1486. Epub 2014 Jun 19. PubMed PMID: 24947929; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4134768.


The Toretsky Laboratory is grateful to many philanthropies for support over the years. Our success has been built on your trust along with your ability to share our vision of using multidisciplinary research to better target cancer.

Ongoing supporters include:

Children’s Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Hyundai Hope on Wheels

Previous supporters have included:

Burroughs Wellcome Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research

Go 4 the Goal

Dani’s Foundation

Rutledge Foundation

CureSearch AFLAC

Make Some Noise Foundation

Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative

Amschwand Sarcoma Foundation

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Friend’s of Colin

St. Baldrick's Foundation

Alan B. Slifka Foundation

Your tax dollars supported us through these NIH grants:










AUGUST,  2022

The Toretsky Lab welcomes Emma McGuire, who joins the lab as a Research Assistant. Welcome Emma!