Photo of Kevin P. Claffey, Ph.D.

Kevin P. Claffey, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Cell Biology
Center for Vascular Biology
Academic Office Location:
Cell Biology
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-3501
Phone: 860-679-8713
Fax: 860-679-1201

Cell Biology Graduate Program

Genetics & Developmental Biology Graduate Program

B.A.Western Connecticut State UniversityBiochemistry
Ph.D.Boston University Biochem & Mol. Biology

Post-Graduate Training
PostdoctoralDepartment of Cellular and Molecular Biology,(Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) and Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, (Harvard Medical School)Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Mentor: Dr. Bruce Spiegleman

Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
Dean of Arts and Sciences 2011 Alumni AwardWestern Connecticut State University
Diversity Awareness CertificateUniversity of Connecticut Health Center
Improving Managerial skills of the New and Prospective ManagerAmerican Management Association
Beth Israel and Science Teacher Educational Partnership Certificate of Appreciation Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
National Research Service Award, Title: Identification of Genes Regulated in Adipose Differentiation, 1988-1991NIH-NIDDK
Student Achievement AwardAmerican Chemical Society
Biochemistry Training Grant, 1984-1988Boston University School of Medicine
Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
Animal Care and Use CommitteeProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberUConn HealthUniversity20212024
Reviewer Komen CT Breast Cancer FoundationStudy SectionReviewerExternalRegional20162020
UCH Molecular Core FacilityOtherDirectorUConn HealthUniversity20162020
UCHC AAUP President and Chief NegotiatorOtherChief NegotiatorUConn HealthUniversity20122020
Graduate Program Student Advisor (2)Advisory CommitteeUConn HealthUniversity20102020
IRB Scientific Review CommitteeResearch CommitteeMemberUConn HealthUniversity20092020
Health Center Research Advisory CommittteeAdvisory CommitteeMemberUConn HealthUniversity20092020
Breast Cancer Alliance Scientific Review CmtResearch CommitteeMemberExternalRegional20092020
Neage Cancer Center - ACS ReviewStudy SectionMemberUConn HealthUniversity2008
American Heart Association, Northeast Region 5BStudy SectionMemberExternalNational2008
NIH-NCI, Innovative Methods of Analysis Technologies – Study SectionsStudy SectionMemberExternalNational20052018
Clinical and Translational Breast Cancer Program, NEAG Comprehensive Cancer CenterAdvisory CommitteeCo-DirectorUConn HealthUniversity20052018
American Heart AssociationStudy SectionMemberExternalNational20042009
NIH-NCI, Tumor Microenvironment, Ad Hoc Study Sections Study SectionMemberExternalNational20032005
Dental Council Education CommitteeMemberUConn HealthUniversity20022004
Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program Education CommitteeCoordinatorExternalUniversity20022009
UCHC Institutional Tumor Bank Development CommitteeProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberUConn HealthUniversity2002
NIH-NCI, Site Visit and Program Project Study Sections for Angiogenic Program and Tumor Biology PO1 Grants Study SectionMemberExternalNational20022004
Biorepository Advisory Cmt.Advisory CommitteeMemberUConn HealthUniversity2002
NIH-SSS-N, OGR, Special Ad-Hoc Study Section, Post-Doctoral NRSA Fellowships Study SectionMemberExternalNational20012003
Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, Univ. of CaliforniaStudy SectionMemberExternalUniversity20012019
UCHC Research Histology Core FacilityOtherDirectorUConn HealthUniversity19992019
American Heart Association, Northeast Region 5BStudy SectionMemberExternalNational19992002
American Association for Cancer ResearchProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalInternational19962019
Animal Care and Research Committee, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterResearch CommitteeMemberExternalRegional19951998
Research Computing Committee, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterResearch CommitteeMemberExternalRegional19941995
American Society for Investigative PathologyProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalInternational19922018

The projects in Dr. Claffey's laboratory are focused on pre-clinical models of breast cancer, particularly targeting angiogenesis and VEGF-dependent mechanisms is a key area of interest for my laboratory. Key areas of expertise include both real-time animal imaging and post-analysis using quantitative histological and biochemical methods. Dynamic vascular events such as induced permeability, local endothelial cell apoptosis and analysis of vascular flow are all important aspects of tumor angiogenesis and multiple cardiovascular diseases. Identification of a potential therapeutic target for pathological excess vascular permeability is a most recent breakthrough. Translational research in breast cancer includes local lymph node immune responses to cancer antigens and recovery of patient-specific anti-cancer antibodies.

Post-Doctoral Candidates with relevant experience will be considered. Please submit a CV or Biosketch with contact information for at least three references

Accepting Lab Rotation Students: Fall 2022 and Spring 2023

Lab Rotation Projects
1. Therapeutic Targeting of Breast Cancer Dormancy, Resistance and Stem Cell Mechanisms. A new project in the lab that targets the cancer stem cell phenotype and dormant metastatic breast cancer. The current approach blocks the effect of detoxification pathways which promote cell survival in metastatic sites during chemotherapy treatment. The “unblocking” this protection pathway with unique therapeutic compounds will significantly improve therapeutic targeting of distal metastatic disease to prevent recurrence. Project involves the testing of various unique compounds using in vitro breast cancer cell models as well as translating effective compounds into animal pre-clinical models of primary and metastatic disease.

2. Breast Cancer Initiation and Progression through the Epigenetic Suppression of Key Metabolic and Signaling Pathways. Our long-standing interest in stress responses that are overridden in cancer have evolved into defining early events that define breast cancer risk and promote progression. One key pathway is the activation of the AMP-dependent kinases (AMPK) under metabolic stress. The catalytic isoform AMPKa2 appears to be crucial to suppression of proliferation signals and has been shown to be epigenetically suppressed in early human breast cancer. We are currently testing models of cancer cells deficient in AMPKa2 by RNA interference in vitro, long-term suppression using in vivo models and genetic deletion in endogenous animal cancers. The suppression of this pathway and its contribution to breast tumorigenesis and metastasis indicates the importance of normal growth control. The main project relates to genetic animal models and in vivo tumor growth and metastasis of cells with modified levels of AMPKa2 expression.

3. Isolation of Patient-Derived Anti-Cancer Antibodies from Tumor Draining Sentinel Lymph Nodes in Breast Cancer and Melanoma. A novel methodology has been developed in the lab to investigate whether patients have a strong immune response to cancer antigens within tumor-draining lymph nodes. We have taken tumor draining lymph nodes from patients and identified B-cell activation within the node, isolated complete cDNA libraries for the antibodies being synthesized there, and used recombinant antibodies to identified novel tumor antigens. A novel methodology is being tested to identify antibodies from live cells and produce antibody clones within a week of sentinel lymph node sampling. These antibodies will be developed for primary biomarker diagnostics using multiplex assays and as a therapeutic option for late stage metastatic cancers.

Journal Articles

Conference Papers

  • AMPK in BCR-ABL expressing leukemias. Regulatory effects and therapeutic implications.
    Vakana, Eliza; Platanias, Leonidas C Oncotarget 2011 Dec;2(12):1322-8
  • Role of CaMKK2-AMPK signaling in breast cancer metabolic and hypoxic stress responses
    Claffey K 2010 Jan;
  • SLN Antibody Libraries
    Claffey K 2010 Jan;
  • The metabolic regulator AMPKa2 is a putative tumor suppressor in breast cancer
    Claffey K 2010 Jan;
  • Expression of the cancer stem cell marker, ALDH1A1 in primary breast cancer: a mechanism for chemoresistance
    Claffey K 2009 Jan;
  • The role of AMPKa2 as a putative tumor suppressor in breast cancer
    Claffey K 2009 Jan;
  • AMPK Activity in Cancer: A Double-Edged Sword? Inhibition of Proliferation and Nutrient Stress-Induced Survival in Breast Carcinoma
    Claffey K 2007 Jan;
  • AMPK Dependent c-Raf Signaling Promotes Breast Carcinoma Cell Viability in Hypoxia
    Claffey K 2007 Jan;
  • Mice with a null mutation for macrophage migration inhibitory factor have lower stage tumors in a model of bladder cancer. Taylor won New Investigator Award.
    Taylor JA, Kuchel GA, Hegde H, Voznesensky OS, Claffey K, Tsmikas J, Bucala R and Pilbeam C. 2006 Jan;
  • AMP-dependent Protein Kinase alpha1 and alpha2 Isoforms are Central Regulators of Hypoxia-Induced VEGF Expression
    Claffey K 2005 Jan;
  • AMPK regulates hypoxia-inducible factor-1 transcriptional activation and VEGF expression in human glioblastoma
    Claffey K 2003 Jan;



Title or AbstractTypeSponsor/EventDate/YearLocation
Patient Derived Anti-Cancer Antibodies Target Cell Surface EpitopesTalk2014Merrimack Pharm. Inc.
Patient Derived Anti-Cancer Antibodies Target Cell Surface EpitopesTalk2014Immunogen, Inc.
Conditional Reprogrammed Cancer Cells for Therapeutic TestingTalkHanson-Wade2013Tumor Biology Models
ASIP - Molecular models of stress signaling in breast cancerTalkASIP - Experimental Biology2011Washington DC.
Regulation of Breast Cancer Stem Cell Fate by MicroRNAsTalkAnnual Meeting at Experimental Biology2011
Potential and Concerns for Therapeutic AMPK Activation in Breast CancerTalkBiochemistry and Molecular Biology Seminar Series2011Mayo Clinic, Rochester MN
Discovery Platform for Identifying Anti-Cancer AntibodiesTalkBioDesign Institute2011Tempe AZ
Breast Cancer Treatment and ResearchTalkCT Breast Health Initiative 2011WDRC FM
Translational Breast Cancer Research - Patient-derived antibodies for personalized medicineTalkUMASS Worcester2010Worcester, MA
Current Breast Cancer Treatment and ResearchTalkInternational Aero Engines2010East Hartford, CT
Neag Cancer Center RetreatTalkNEAG CC UCHC2010Farmington, CT
MEtformin as a breast cancer therapeutic AMPK activatorPosterSan Antonio Breast Cancer Symp./AACR2010San Antonio, TX
Identification of active sentinel lymph nodes in cancer patientsTalkClinical Melanoma Conference2009New Haven, CT
Breast Cancer and Beyond: A Conversation with the ExpertsPanel DiscussionDiscovery Series UCONN Health Center. Open Public Informational Series2009Farmington, CT
Identification of Patient-Derived AntibodiesTalkDepartment of Cell and Molecular Biology, St. Louis University2009St. Louis, MI
Animal models of primary and metastatic breast cancerTalkCenter for Vascular Biology, Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine2008New Haven CT
Identification of Breast Cancer AntigensTalkNIH:NCI IMAT Investigator Meeting2007San Francisco, CA
Career opportunities in the Biomedical SciencesTalkRegion 10 Honors High School Program2007
AMPK regulates Hypoxia Induced VEGF in GlioblastomaTalkKeystone Meeting on Hypoxia2006Colorado
Hypoxia Regulation of MT1-MMP/MMP-2 Activation in Breast Cancer Invasion and MetastasisTalkDepartment of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School2002Boston, MA
Orthotopic Breast Cancer Models of Tumor Growth, Invasion and MetastasisTalkDepartment of Medicine, Center for Cutaneous Biology, Mass General Hospital and Harvard Medical Scho2001Cambridge, MA
Role of Infiltrating Stromal Cell VEGF Expression in bFGF-Induced AngiogenesisTalkYale School of Medicine, Department of Pathology2000New Haven, CT
Cytokine-dependent in vivo angiogenesis modelsTalkPraecis Pharmaceutical Inc1997Cambridge, MA
Hypoxia-mediated gene expression, Transcription and mRNA stability: Mechanisms for tumor cell survivalTalkDartmouth Medical College and Veterans Administration Medical Center, Department of Microbiology and1997Lebanon, NH
Experimental approaches to block hypoxia-induced VEGF mRNA expression in human tumor cells: models for drug discovery programsTalkBioChem Therapeutic1996Laval, Quebec
VEGF dependent angiogenesis models and novel approaches to anticancer drug targetsTalkPfizer Discovery Research Seminar1996
Hypoxia-mediated gene expression, Transcription and mRNA stability; Mechanisms for tumor cell survivalTalkShriners Burns Institute Seminar Series1996
VEGF mRNA regulation by hypoxia and correlation with experimental retinopathy modelsTalkRassmussen Foundation Research Advances, Annual Review1995