Gyorgy Petrovics, Ph.D.

Assistant Director, CPDR Basic Science Research Program
Research Assistant Professor of Surgery, USUHS

Dr. Gyorgy Petrovics joined the Center for Prostate Disease Research (CPDR) in November 1999 and became Assistant Director in 2006. He is the Chief of Translational Genomics at CPDR and a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS).

Dr. Petrovics is involved in integrating research activities within the translational research program at CPDR in collaboration with WRAMC and AFIP. He developed a microgenomics platform at CPDR, and as co-Principal Investigator of an NIH RO1 grant supporting this project ("Cell specific gene expression signatures in prostate cancer"), he has been leading a team of CPDR researchers to identify diagnostic and prognostic molecular markers for prostate cancer (CaP). Using Affymetrix GeneChip and laser capture microdissection (LCM) technology, the team evaluated cell-specific gene expression signatures in epithelial cells from benign and malignant specimens of CaP patients who have undergone radical prostatectomy. One of the main goals was to find oncogene and tumor suppressor genes that undergo prominent expression alterations in CaP patients. Based on this project CPDR linked for the first time the ERG oncogene to the majority of sporadic CaP helping to open a new direction in CaP research.

Stemming also from this project, Dr. Petrovics was instrumental in developing a CaP diagnostic gene panel, that is being translated into urine based clinical assay in collaboration with Gen-Probe Inc., under a CRADA agreement ("Development of a Prostate Cancer Diagnostic/Prognostic Gene Panel").

Dr. Petrovics has been increasingly involved in the organization of the biospecimen resources at CPDR by coordinating multidisciplinary team efforts. He lead the establishment of a unique central resource of RNA and DNA banks from laser capture microdissected frozen prostate tissues for high throughput identification and validation of genes with potential clinical value. Dr. Petrovics also helped integrating CPDR biospecimen resources and CPDR National Database resources to further enhance translational research activities at CPDR. He is coordinating CPDR efforts and resources in large academic collaborations built around the CPDR blood genomic DNA bank.

Another focus of Dr. Petrovics' research program has been the characterization of the biological roles of PCGEM1, a highly prostate-specific, androgen regulated gene discovered at CPDR. The PCGEM1 mRNA lacks protein-coding capacity and may function as a non-coding RNA riboregulator. CPDR's results show that PCGEM1 promotes cell proliferation and colony formation, and it affects protein phosphorylation in specific pathways related to cell proliferation, cancer and apoptosis. Using the RNA bank, Dr. Petrovics' team determined that PCGEM1 displays significantly elevated expression in CaP cells of African American men compared to Caucasian Americans. He served as co-PI on the NIH-funded R01 grant supporting this project ("PCGEM1 expression and function in prostate cancer").

Dr. Petrovics earned both his masters of science in biology (1985) and his doctorate in molecular/cell biology (1992) from Hungary's Attila Jozsef University. His doctoral studies were supported by a junior fellowship from Cologne, Germany's Max Planck Institute and a one-year Fellowship for Excellence in Basic Research awarded by the Janos Bastyai Holczer Fund of the Biological Research Center in Szeged, Hungary. Dr. Petrovics received postdoctoral training at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Institut des Sciences du Végétal (ISV) France from 1992 to1993 and, as a recipient of the prestigious Fogarty International Fellowship, at the United States' National Cancer Institute (NCI) from 1994 to1999. At NCI Dr. Petrovics gained a solid foundation in cancer biology with emphasize on signal transduction and growth regulation in cancer and normal cells, and the role of specific domains of different Protein Kinase C isozymes.

Dr. Petrovics has published 40 peer reviewed original reports including articles in EMBO Journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research, Oncogene, and he is involved in several CPDR patent applications. He has been contributing to the educational mission of USUHS and CPDR by mentoring and teaching postdoctoral fellows, urology residents, students and research assistants. Dr. Petrovics also serves as a reviewer for scientific journals and was invited for DOD CDMRP Grant Review Panel.