Associate Professor
Medical Diagnostic & Translational Sciences

Robert Bruno

2118 Health Sciences Bldg
Norfolk, 23529

Robert Bruno earned a Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2009 for his work on a novel prostate cancer therapeutic (galeterone) which is now in Phase III clinical trials. He then completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the National Cancer Institute in the Mammary Stem Cell Section of the Basic Research Laboratory at the Center for Cancer Research. He came to Old Dominion University in 2013 as an Assistant Professor in the School of Medical Diagnostic & Translational Sciences within the College of Health Sciences. His current work applies biomedical engineering principles including 3D bioprinting to study mechanisms of cellular fate determination in development, cancer, and neurodegeneration.

Ph.D. in Life Sciences, University of Maryland Baltimore, (2009)

Contracts, Grants and Sponsored Research

Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. "A three dimensional bioprinting approach to mapping critical determinants of stem cell asymmetric divisions" $451,210. Federal. January 2019 - December 2022
Bruno, R., Sachs, P., Mollica, P. and Xiao, S. "Investigating the effects of sub-nanosecond pulsed electric fields as a potential protein disaggregation agent in Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease neurons" $45,000. State. July 1, 2018 - September 30, 2019
Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. "Three dimensional bioprinting for high-throughput in vitro modeling of asymmetric stem cell divisions" $100,000. Private. June 30, 2017 - June 29, 2018
Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. "Chimeric mammary models for elucidating microenvironment contributions to tumor suppression and promotion" $306,000. State. July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2017
Bruno, R. and Wu, V. "Unravelling the cellular hierarchy within human tonsilar crypt epithelium and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma tumors" $50,000. Private. July 2014 - March 2016
Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. "Development of a Three-Dimensional Human Breast Model for the Advancement of the in-vitro Study of Breast Cancer" $50,000. Old Dominion University. January 1, 2014 - January 1, 2015
"Development of novel real-time PCR based assay for tracking chromosome segregation in asymmetric cell divisions" $7,000. Old Dominion University. May 1, 2014 - September 1, 2014

Expertise

Biotechnology
stem cells; 3D bioprinting; mammary gland biology; molecular biology; cell biology; developmental biology; cell fate determination
Cancer
Breast Cancer; Prostate Cancer; Tumorigenesis; Cancer reprogramming; three-dimensional models; microenvironment
3D Printing
Bioprinting
Biology
cell biology; molecular biology; mammary gland biology; mammary gland biology; molecular biology; cell biology; developmental biology; cell fate determination

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding how the local microenvironment controls cellular differentiation and function. We study this in the context of cancer, development, and neurological disorders. Notably, we have shown that we can redirect breast cancer cells to adopt a normal mammary epithelial cell fate by restoring a normal microenvironment around them. This has huge implications for diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We use a combination of techniques including 3D bioprinting, induced pluripotent stem cells, in vivo models, and novel 3D culture techniques to understand the process.

Articles

Reid, J. A., Mollica, P. M., Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. (2018). Consistent and reproducible cultures of large-scale 3d mammary epithelial structures using an accessible bioprinting platform. Breast Cancer Research 20 (1) , pp. 122.
Wu, V., Auchman, M., Mollica, P. A., Sachs, P. and Bruno, R. (2018). ALDH1A1 positive cells are a unique component of the tonsillar crypt niche and are lost along with NGFR positive stem cells during tumourigenesis.. Pathology 50 (5) , pp. 524-529.
Mollica, P., Zamponi, M., Reid, J., Sharma, D., White, A., Ogle, R., Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. (2018). Epigenetic alterations mediate iPSC normalization of DNA-repair expression and TNR stability in Huntington's disease. Journal of Cell Science.
Petrella, R. A., Mollica, P. A., Zamponi, M., Reid, J. A., Xiao, S., Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. (2018). 3D bioprinter applied picosecond pulsed electric fields for targeted manipulation of proliferation and lineage specific gene expression in neural stem cells.. Journal of neural engineering 15 (5) , pp. 056021.
Sachs, P., Mollica, P. A. and Bruno, R. (2017). Tissue specific microenvironments: a key tool for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Journal of Biological Engineering 11 , pp. 1-11.
Bruno, R., Fleming, J. M., George, A. L., Boulanger, C. A., Schedin, P. and Smith, G. H. (2017). Mammary extracellular matrix directs differentiation of testicular and embryonic stem cells to form functional mammary glands in vivo.. Scientific reports 7 , pp. 40196.
Kwegyir-Afful, A. K., Bruno, R., Purushottamachar, P., Murigi, F. N. and Njar, V. C. (2016). Galeterone and VNPT55 disrupts Mnk-eIF4E to inhibit prostate cancer cell migration and invasion.. The FEBS journal.
Reid, J. A., Mollica, P. A., Johnson, G. D., Ogle, R., Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. (2016). Accessible bioprinting: adaptation of a low-cost 3D-printer for precise cell placement and stem cell differentiation.. Biofabrication 8 (2) , pp. 025017.
Mollica, P. A., Reid, J. A., Ogle, R., Sachs, P. and Bruno, R. (2016). DNA Methylation Leads to DNA Repair Gene Down-Regulation and Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion in Patient-Derived Huntington Disease Cells.. The American journal of pathology.
Godbole, A. M., Ramalingam, S., Ramamurthy, V. P., Khandelwal, A., Bruno, R., Upreti, V. V., Gediya, L. K., Purushottamachar, P., Mbatia, H. W., Addya, S., Ambulos, N. and Njar, V. C. (2014). VN/14-1 induces ER stress and autophagy in HP-LTLC human breast cancer cells and has excellent oral pharmacokinetic profile in female Sprague Dawley rats.. European journal of pharmacology 734 , pp. 98-104.
Bruno, R. and Smith, G. H. (2014). A potential mechanism for extracellular matrix induction of breast cancer cell normality.. Breast cancer research : BCR 16 (1) , pp. 302.
Bruno, R., Boulanger, C. A., Rosenfield, S. M., Anderson, L. H., Lydon, J. P. and Smith, G. H. (2014). Paracrine-rescued lobulogenesis in chimeric outgrowths comprising progesterone-receptor-null mammary epithelium and redirected wild-type testicular cells.. Journal of cell science 127 (Pt 1) , pp. 27-32.
Bruno, R., Rosenfield, S. M. and Smith, G. H. (2013). Late developing mammary tumors and hyperplasia induced by a low-oncogenic variant of mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV) express genes identical to those induced by canonical MMTV.. Molecular cancer 12 , pp. 79.
Bruno, R. and Smith, G. H. (2012). Reprogramming non-mammary and cancer cells in the developing mouse mammary gland.. Seminars in cell & developmental biology 23 (5) , pp. 591-8.
Boulanger, C. A., Bruno, R., Rosu-Myles, M. and Smith, G. H. (2012). The mouse mammary microenvironment redirects mesoderm-derived bone marrow cells to a mammary epithelial progenitor cell fate.. Stem cells and development 21 (6) , pp. 948-54.
Bruno, R., Boulanger, C. A. and Smith, G. H. (2012). Notch-induced mammary tumorigenesis does not involve the lobule-limited epithelial progenitor.. Oncogene 31 (1) , pp. 60-7.
Bruno, R., Vasaitis, T. S., Gediya, L. K., Purushottamachar, P., Godbole, A. M., Ates-Alagoz, Z., Brodie, A. M. and Njar, V. C. (2011). Synthesis and biological evaluations of putative metabolically stable analogs of VN/124-1 (TOK-001): head to head anti-tumor efficacy evaluation of VN/124-1 (TOK-001) and abiraterone in LAPC-4 human prostate cancer xenograft model.. Steroids 76 (12) , pp. 1268-79.
Bruno, R. and Smith, G. H. (2011). Functional characterization of stem cell activity in the mouse mammary gland.. Stem cell reviews 7 (2) , pp. 238-47.
Vasaitis, T. S., Bruno, R. and Njar, V. C. (2011). CYP17 inhibitors for prostate cancer therapy.. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology 125 (1-2) , pp. 23-31.
Bruno, R. and Smith, G. H. (2011). Role of epithelial stem/progenitor cells in mammary cancer.. Gene expression 15 (3) , pp. 133-40.
Bussard, K. M., Boulanger, C. A., Booth, B. W., Bruno, R. and Smith, G. H. (2010). Reprogramming human cancer cells in the mouse mammary gland.. Cancer research 70 (15) , pp. 6336-43.
Bruno, R., Gover, T. D., Burger, A. M., Brodie, A. M. and Njar, V. C. (2008). 17alpha-Hydroxylase/17,20 lyase inhibitor VN/124-1 inhibits growth of androgen-independent prostate cancer cells via induction of the endoplasmic reticulum stress response.. Molecular cancer therapeutics 7 (9) , pp. 2828-36.
Purushottamachar, P., Khandelwal, A., Vasaitis, T. S., Bruno, R., Gediya, L. K. and Njar, V. C. (2008). Potent anti-prostate cancer agents derived from a novel androgen receptor down-regulating agent.. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 16 (7) , pp. 3519-29.
Bruno, R. and Njar, V. C. (2007). Targeting cytochrome P450 enzymes: a new approach in anti-cancer drug development.. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 15 (15) , pp. 5047-60.
Purushottamachar, P., Khandelwal, A., Chopra, P., Maheshwari, N., Gediya, L. K., Vasaitis, T. S., Bruno, R., Clement, O. O. and Njar, V. C. (2007). First pharmacophore-based identification of androgen receptor down-regulating agents: discovery of potent anti-prostate cancer agents.. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry 15 (10) , pp. 3413-21.

Presentations

Sachs, P., Bruno, R., Reid, J. A., Mollica, P. A. and Booth, E. (September 23, 2017). Breast-derived ECM and 3D bioprinting: A precise biomimetic system for the study of breast cancer. Oral Presentation Commonwealth of Virginia Cancer Research Conference Charlottesville, VA.
Bruno, R., Sachs, P., Reid, J. A., Mollica, P. A. and Northam, N. (September 23, 2017). Microenvironmental control of cell fate in the mammary gland: From mice to bioprinted human organoids. Oral Presentation Commonwealth of Virginia Cancer Research Conference Charlottesville, VA.
Bruno, R., Sachs, P., Reid, J. and Mollica, P. (June 13, 2017). 3D bioprinting of mammary structures into biomimetic human breast tissue derived hydrogels Poster Gordon Research Conference: Mammary gland biology Stowe, VT.
Bruno, R., Sachs, P., Reid, J. and Mollica, P. (June 11, 2017). Generation of chimeric mammary structures using a 3D bioprinter Poster Gordon Research Conference: Mammary gland biology Stowe, VT.
Bruno, R., Smith, G., Flemming, J., Schedin, P. and George, A. (June 11, 2017). Mammary extracellular matrix directs differentatiation of testicular and embryonic stem cells to form functional mammary glands in vivo Oral Presentation Gordon Research Conference: Mammary gland biology Stowe, VT.
Reid, J., Mollica, P., Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. (May 2, 2017). Microextrusion based bioprinting apparatus provides valuable method for exploring the 'self - organization' of mammary epithelial branching morphogenesis Poster AIPP Horizons 3D Bioprinting: Physical and Chemical Processes Winston-Salem NC.
Reid, J., Mollica, P., Sachs, P. and Bruno, R. (December 13, 2016). Directed Mammary Epithelial Structure Formation Using 3D Bioprinting Poster TERMIS-AM Annual Meeting San Diego, California USA.
Mollica, P., Reid, J., Ogle, R., Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. (December 11, 2016). Huntington’s Disease Induced-Pluripotent Stem Cell Derived Neural Stem Cells Show Minimal Trinucleotide Repeat Instability Poster TERMIS-AM Annual Meeting San Diego, California USA.
Mollica, P., Reid, J., Ogle, R., Bruno, R. and Sachs, P. (May 24, 2016). Huntington’s disease induced-pluripotent stem cells show enhanced DNA repair gene expression and contraction-biased trinucleotide repeat instability Poster Brain Rx: A symposium on drug discovery for the brain Richmond, Virginia .
Bruno, R. ( 2015). Finding your niche: cell fate determination in the mouse mammary microenvironment Lecture Bioelectrics Seminar Series Norfolk, VA.
Bruno, R., Sachs, P., Reid, J. and Mollica, P. (June 10, 2015). Luminal and basal breast cancer tumors retain identical differentiation repertoire upon redirection in a normal mammary microenvironment Poster Gordon Research Conference: Mammary Gland Biology Dover, VT.
Bruno, R. and Smith, G. (June 8, 2015). Label retaining mammary epithelial cells retain proliferative potential and respond to hormones Poster Gordon Research Conference: Mammary Gland Biology Dover, VT.
Bruno, R., Wu, V., Yu, T. and Harding, B. (April , 2015). Stem cell markers within tonsillar crypt epithelium Poster American Head and Neck Society Translational Research Meeting Boston, MA.
Bruno, R., Wu, V., Harding, B. and Yu, T. (April 20, 2015). Unraveling the cellular hierarchy within tonsillar crypts and OPSCC tumors Poster 2015 Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research .
Bruno, R., Boulanger, C., Anderson, L., Lydon, J. and Smith, G. (June , 2013). Developmental rescue of progesterone receptor null mammary epithelium by redirected testicular cells in vivo Poster Gordon Research Conference: Mammary Gland Biology Stowe, VT.
Bruno, R., Boulanger, C. and Smith, G. (June , 2011). Notch induced tumorigenesis does not involve the lobule-limited progenitor Poster Gordon Research Conference: Mammary Gland Biology Newport, RI.
Bruno, R., Gediya, L., Brodie, A. and Njar, V. (April , 2009). Lyase inhibitor/androgen receptor modulator VN/124-1 (TOK-001) shows improved efficacy over abiraterone in a LAPC-4 prostate cancer xenograft model Poster 2009 Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Denver, CO.
Bruno, R., Burger, A., Brodie, A. and Njar, V. (April , 2008). Lyase inhibitor/anti-androgen VN/124-1 inhibits growth of androgen independent prostate cancer cells through induction of the endoplasmic reticulum stress response Oral Presentation 2009 Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research San Diego, CA.
  • 2010: National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Kappa Phi
  • 2010: NCI Director’s Intramural Innovation Award, National Cancer Institute
  • 2008: Most Cited Paper Award, Journal of Bioorganic Medicinal Chemistry
  • 2008: Nominated for "Otani Award", University of Maryland Baltimore
  • 2007: Nominated for Ph.D. Scholar Award, Graduate Program in Life Sciences
  • 2007: Outstanding Student Award, Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine