Dimitroff, Charles J., PhD
Title: Executive Associate Dean for Research; Director, Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU; Professor, with Tenure, Department of Translational Medicine
Department(s): Translational Medicine
Dr. Dimitroff is a global leader in the study of sugars, known as glycobiology, and is highly motivated to translate glycobiological findings to help cure diseases and improve the overall health of humans. His research focuses on understanding how sugars or ‘glycans’ regulate immune and cancer cell functions with the goal of developing new approaches to boost the immune system to fight diseases and to treat cancer progression. As a principal investigator for over 26 years, his efforts have helped identify the nature and impact of glycans on inflammation and cancer, while operating one of the most reputable translational glycobiology programs in the US.
Dr. Dimitroff received his Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology/Cancer Therapeutics at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where he studied mechanisms of glycan-dependent adhesion of cancer cells and related therapeutic strategies to thwart metastasis development. He then trained as a Research Fellow in the Department of Dermatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) under the direction of Dr. Robert Sackstein, investigating the glycobiology of hematopoietic stem cell homing to bone. In 2003, Dr. Dimitroff transitioned to independence as a faculty member in BWH Dermatology and made groundbreaking observations on the role of glyco-enzymes called fucosyltransferases (more commonly found on skin immune cells) in prostate cancer metastasis to bone.
Fast forward to 2019, Dr. Dimitroff is investigating glycans and their roles in fundamental immunology, inflammatory processes and cancer progression. His current glycobiology research program is subdivided into a cancer research project focused on exploring the glycobiology of melanomas and how distinct glycans cause melanoma metastasis and whether these features help predict melanoma metastasis; and an immunology research project focused on investigating how glycan signatures on human B cells help coordinate effective humoral immune responses and vaccinations or, when dysregulated, lymphoma development. These research activities have recently resulted in major research awards: an NIH/NCI Alliance of Glycobiologists for Cancer Research: Biological Tumor Glycomics Laboratories (U01) grant; an NIH/NIAID R21 grant on how novel glycan features impact B cell function; and a prestigious Mizutani Glycoscience research grant on how glycan-binding galectins influence and B cell activities. He regularly speaks at national and international ‘Society’ meetings related to glycan-mediated mechanisms of inflammation and metastasis.
Dr. Dimitroff is, perhaps, best known for his mentoring and teaching of laboratory methods on the topics of immunology, biochemistry, cutaneous immunology, glycobiology and tumor metastasis studies. He has supervised 44 trainees since 2003 ranging from HS students, PhD graduate students, post-doctoral fellows to junior faculty. He has established summer internship programs with local high schools, notably the Catalyst Summer Internship Program at The Governor’s Academy. He and his training programs have received over a dozen honors and awards in the categories of mentoring and community service. As the former Associate Director of Laboratory Research in BWH Dermatology, he co-founded the BWH Dermatology Training Program and the Scholarship Oversight mentoring program.
Now, with his new appointment of Professor with Tenure, Dr. Dimitroff’s administrative duties and laboratory will be grounded within the Department of Translational Medicine in the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (HWCOM) at Florida International University (FIU). His laboratory will be located in the Translational Glycobiology Institute at FIU (TGIF), in which he will serve as its Founding Director. At the TGIF, he will foster collaborative glycoscience activities in medicine while training the next generation of basic and clinical research scientists in the glycosciences. Furthermore, Dr. Dimitroff will serve as the Executive Associate Dean for Research at HWCOM charged with building successful biomedical research programs and providing a first-rate research experience for its doctoral and post-doctoral trainees.
In all, Dr. Dimitroff is now poised through the commitment of leadership at HWCOM/FIU to guide biomedical research with the intent on improving human health and spawning successful careers in the biomedical sciences at all educational levels.