Lori Rink, PhD

Lori Rink, PhD

Research Program

The insulin-like growth factor system and its potential role in tumorigenesis
Detection of GIST with IntegriSense680 and treatment-related apoptosis with KcapQ647


Education and Training

Educational Background

  • PhD, Molecular Biology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, 2006
  • BS, Biology, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, 2000
Research Profile

Research Program

Research Interests

Mechanisms of drug resistance in gastrointestinal stromal tumor

  • Elucidating the role of KRAB family zinc finger proteins (KRAB-ZNF) in response to imatinib meylate in GIST
  • Preclinical testing of novel therapeutics/combinations in GIST xenograft models evaluated using in vivo molecular optical imaging
  • Investigating insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) as a potential theraeutic target for wild-type GIST

Lab Overview

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are the most common mesenchymal tumors of the digestive tract, with an estimated annual occurrence of 3,300-6,000 in the United States. GISTs are believed to arise from the Interstitial Cells of Cajal, the pacemaker cells of the gut, or from interstitial mesenchymal precursor stem cells. GISTs express and are clinically diagnosed by immunohistochemical staining of CD117, the 145 kDa transmembrane glycoprotein KIT. The most common primary sites for these neoplasms are the stomach (60-70%), followed by the small intestine (25-35%). The majority (~80%) of GISTs possess gain-of-function mutations in KIT in either exons 9, 11, 13 or 17, causing constitutive activation of the kinase receptor, whereas smaller subsets of GISTs possess either gain-of-function mutations in PDGFRA (~5-8%), BRAF (<2%) or no mutations in either KIT or PDGFRA (~12-15%). The majority of the GISTs lacking these mutations have recently been shown to have defects (i.e. mutations, hypermethylation) in the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) pathway. Imatinib mesylate, an oral drug that inhibits the KIT/PDGFRA, is very effective at controlling metastatic disease and preventing recurrence after initial surgery. Unfortunately, in patients with advanced disease, imatinib stops working after approximately two years. 

Our group is studying what happens to GIST cells when they are treated with imatinib and what leads to clinical resistance. Our initial studies identified genetic markers that could predict the response of patients with metastatic/recurrent GIST to imatinib, and current studies focus on genomic and proteomic changes associated with the pathogenesis of GIST and response to molecular targeted therapies. We have also shown an important role for IGF signaling in adult and pediatric GISTs that lack activating kinase mutations. Based on these studies, clinical trials have been developed (by Dr. Margaret von Mehren, Director of the Sarcoma Program at  Fox Chase) with the goal of ultimately eradicating this disease.

Lab Staff

Marya Kozinova, MS

Graduate Student

Room: W305

Dinara Sharipova

Graduate Student

Room: W305

Shuai Ye, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Room: W305

John Coughlin



Selected Publications

Zook P, Pathak HB, Belinsky MG, Gersz L, Devarajan K, Zhou Y, Godwin AK, von Mehren M, Rink L. Combination of Imatinib Mesylate and AKT inhibitor provides synergistic effects in preclinical study of Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor. Clinical Cancer Research. 23(1);171-180, 2017. PubMed

Hensley H., Devarajan K., Johnson J.R., Piwnica-Worms D., Godwin A.K., von Mehren M., Rink L. Evaluating new therapies in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor using in vivo molecular optical imaging. Cancer Biol. & Therapy. Jul; 15(7):911-8, 2014. PubMed

Rink L., Ochs M.F., Zhou Y., von Mehren M., Godwin A.K. ZNF-mediated resistance to imatinib mesylate in gastrointestinal stromal tumor. PLoS One. 8(1):e54477, 2013. PubMed

Rink, L., Skorobogatko, Y., Kossenkov, A., Belinksy, M., Pajak, T., Heinrich, M.C., Ochs, M., von Mehren, M., Eisenberg, B., and Godwin, A.K. Gene expression signatures and response to Imatinib Mesylate in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors. Mol. Cancer Ther. 8:2172-2182, 2009. PubMed

Tarn, C.┼, Rink, L. ┼, Merkel, E., Flieder, D., Koumbi, D., Testa, J., Eisenberg, B., von Mehren, M., and Godwin, A.K. Insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor: a potential therapeutic target for gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Science, USA 105(24):8387-8392, 2008. (┼Authors have equal contribution) PubMed

Additional Publications


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