Sabaawy Laboratory

Research Overview

The research efforts in the Sabaawy laboratory are focused on studying normal stem cell development and cancer stem cells utilizing patient-derived cells, 3D organogenesis cultures and humanized mouse xenografts. These studies aim to dissect normal stem cell developmental pathways, and how cancer stem cells divert from these regulatory pathways. One major pathway for research focus in the laboratory is the regulation of stem cell self-renewal by the polycomb and cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor genes. Utilizing novel organoid cultures, genetic and drug modifiers together with transgenic and xenograft approaches; the laboratory is generating models for precision therapy of several cancers such as prostate and renal cancers, glioblastomas and leukemias.

Sabaawy Lab research photoThe laboratory houses the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey zebrafish facility and is collaborating with several investigators at Rutgers, nationwide and globally to utilize our zebrafish reporter lines for translational cancer modeling and drug discovery strategies. With these approaches, we uncovered novel stem cell targets, and are developing small molecule inhibitors for targeting stem cell self-renewal for more effective regenerative and cancer therapies. 

A parallel research effort in the Sabaawy laboratory is to study human adherent bone marrow-derived cells (ABMCs)-based therapy and transplantation in regenerative medicine. Cell therapy using stem cells for regeneration of a failing organ or injury repair is a promising approach. We are utilizing 3D organogenesis and animal models to study the mechanisms and dynamics of stem cell-mediated regeneration. These studies support ongoing collaborations in international clinical trials for utilizing ABMCs cell therapy for injury repair. 

Laboratory Leadership

Hatem Sabaawy, MD, PhDHatem E. Sabaawy, MD, PhD is an assistant professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, an assistant professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at the Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, director of the Cell and Gene Therapy Good Manufacturing Practice Facility at RWJMS, a member of the executive committee of the Stem Cell Institute of New Jersey, and a principal investigator at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) Molecular and Regenerative Medicine program. 


He had his medical residency and graduate training at Cairo University Hospitals in Cairo, Egypt, and New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY in clinical Hematology with PhD in Genetic Pharmacology from the Gene Therapy program at New York Medical College. Dr. Sabaawy went on to complete a fellowship at the Transplantation and Immunology Branch of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, MD. 

His work at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey focuses on translational research studies of normal hematopoietic stem cells and tumor stem cell development utilizing mouse and zebrafish models. The studies received national funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. These studies aim to identify stem cell targets, genetic modifiers and small molecule inhibitors that would ultimately improve cancer patients' survival.