The Michigan Otolaryngology and Translational Oncology Laboratory (MiOTO) was formed in 2013 as a lab focused on discoveries in molecular medicine and therapeutics. Under the leadership of Dr. Chad Brenner, we are making cutting-edge advances in cancer research that we hope to bring to clinics from improved diagnostic tools to novel therapies for patients. Dr. Brenner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Michigan school of Medicine interested in clinical genomics and the development of precision medicine based strategies. His laboratory focuses on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, prostate cancer and Ewing's sarcoma.

The overarching goal of the lab is to identify putative predictive genomic biomarkers for targeted therapies and understand primary and secondary resistance mechanisms for these therapies. The lab utilizes next generation sequencing strategies including exome, RNAseq, and targeted capture sequencing for the development and analysis of genomics-driven clinical trials and genetic characterization of therapeutic resistance. The lab also specializes in using high-throughput functional screens to identify therapeutic targets and molecular strategies to advance for pre-clinical modeling in cell lines and patient-derived xenograft models. We are studying the development of primary and secondary resistance for targeted therapies using sequential clinical samples from clinical trials.

Our multi-faceted approach draws upon the resources of the University of Michigan Health System, University of Michigan Medical School, University of Michigan Department of Otolaryngology, and collaborations with the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of several comprehensive cancer centers in the nation designated by the National Cancer Institute. Our research group also is part of the Stand Up To Cancer-Prostate Cancer Foundation "Dream Team" initiative that is focused on the personalized treatment of metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. Our collaborations extend to other institutions nationally and internationally, as well as with members of industry to help bring our research findings to practical applications by the development of new diagnostics and therapies.


Dr. Brenner was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Michigan school of Medicine in 2013 and is also a member of the comprehensive cancer center. His lab is called the Michigan Otolaryngology and Translational Oncology lab (MiOTO), the goal of which is to identify new diagnostic tests and precision medicine therapies for cancer patients.

In addition to receiving his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Dr. Brenner also received a Master's of Science in Engineering in Bioelectrical Engineering and PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology for his seminal contributions to molecular mechanisms of prostate cancer progression and therapeutic inhibition of the disease. Dr. Brenner has received a number of awards including the Lindau-Nobel Graduate Student Award, the American Association for Cancer Research Scientist in Training in Award, and the Prostate Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award.


Department of Otolaryngology
University of Michigan Medical School
Comprehensive Cancer Center


Dr. Brenner's research is focused on functional genomic, proteomic and bioinformatics approaches to study cancer for the purposes of understanding cancer biology as well as to discover novel therapeutic approaches (precision medicine).  His group has discovered driving lesions in prostate cancer and sinonasal undifferentiated carcinomas of the head and neck. Current studies are focus on sequencing the exomes and transcriptomes of head and neck cancer patients with the goal of identifying open clinical trials that may benefit the individual patient. Additional research is focused on identifying drug sensitivities for specific genomic aberrations that are common in cancer. Dr. Brenner's previous work led to the identification PARP inhibitor sensitivities of tumor cells harboring ETS gene fusions (including prostate cancers and Ewing's sarcoms). This finding potentially redefines the clinical therapeutic course of prostate cancer and Ewing's sarcoma and clinical trials are currently underway to test the hypothesis. Currently efforts are underway to extend this molecular medicine approach to head and neck cancers.

Contact Us

Office: 9301B MSRB3
1150 E. Medical Center Dr.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Phone: 734-763-2761
Email: chadbren@med.umich.edu


The longstanding and generous support from our benefactors has made possible high-risk but ultimately groundbreaking discoveries; research that would not have been easily funded through conventional mechanisms. We are continuing to make important strides in cancer research and developing improved diagnostic tests and more effective, targeted treatments for cancer. Your gift will enable life-saving, transformational research and development at each step of the “bench to bedside” process.

For Scientists

We are currently accepting applications from graduate students, medical students, residents and post-doctoral fellows. Please contact Dr. Brenner directly by email.

Selected Publications

Brenner JC*, Ateeq B*, Li Y, Yocum AK, Cao Q, Asangani IA, Patel S, Liang H, Yu J, Palanisamy N, Siddiqui J, Yan W, Wang X, Cao X, Mehra R, Basrur V, Lonigro RJ, Yang J, Tomlins SA, Maher CA, Elenitoba-Johnson KSJ, Hussain M, Navone NM, Pienta KJ, Varambally S, Feng FY, Chinnaiyan AM. Mechanistic Rationale for Inhibition of Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerase in ETS Gene Fusion Positive Prostate Cancer. Cancer Cell. 2011; 19(5):664-78. PMID:21575865 / PMCID:PMC3113473

Brenner JC*, Feng FY*, Han S, Patel S, Goyal SV, Bou-Maroun LM, Liu M, Lonigro R, Prensner JR, Tomlins SA, Chinnaiyan AM. PARP-1 Inhibition as a Targeted Strategy in Ewing's Sarcoma. Cancer Res. 2012; 72(7):1608-1613. PMID:22287547/ PMCID:PMC3319786

Brenner JC, Chinnaiyan AM. Disruptive events in the life of prostate cancer. Cancer Cell. 2011; 19(3):301-303. PMID:21397854

Prensner JR*, Iyer MK*, Balbin OA, Dhanasekaran SM, Cao Q, Brenner JC, Asangani I, Grasso C, Kominsky HD, Cao X, Jing X, Siddiqui J, Wei JT, Palanisamy N, Robinson D, Iyer HK, Maher CA, Chinnaiyan AM. Transcriptome sequencing identifies PCAT-1, a novel lincRNA implicated in prostate cancer progression. Nat Biotechnol. 2011; 29(8):742-749. PMID:21804560 / PMCID:PMC3152676

Grasso CS, Wu YM, Robinson DR, Cao X, Dhanasekaran SM, Khan AP, Quist MJ, Jing X, Lonigro RJ, Brenner JC, Asangani IA, Ateeq B, Chun SY, Siddiqui J, Sam L, Anstett M, Mehra R, Prensner JR, Palanisamy N, Ryslik GA, Vandin F, Raphael BJ, Kunju LP, Rhodes DR, Pienta KJ, Chinnaiyan AM, Tomlins SA. The mutational landscape of lethal castration-resistant prostate cancer. Nature. 2012; 487(7406):239-243. PMID:22722839 / PMCID:PMC3396711

Cao Q, Mani RS, Ateeq B, Dhanasekaran SM, Asangani IA, Yu J, Kim JH, Prensner JR, Brenner JC, Cao X, Jing X, Wang R, Li Y, Dahiya A, Wang L, Lonigro RJ, Tomlins SA, Palanisamy N, Maher CA, Varambally S, Chinnaiyan AM. Coordinated regulation of polycomb group complexes through microRNAs in cancer. Cancer Cell. 2011; 20(2):187-199. PMID:21840484 / PMCID:PMC3157014

Yu J, Yu J, Mani RS, Cao Q, Brenner JC, Cao X, Wang X, Wu L, Li J, Hu M, Gong Y, Cheng H, Laxman B, Vellaichamy A, Shankar S, Li Y, Dhanasekaran SM, Morey R, Barrette T, Lonigro RJ, Tomlins SA, Varambally S, Qin ZS, Chinnaiyan AM. An Integrated Network of Androgen Receptor, Polycomb, and TMPRSS2-ERG Gene Fusions in Prostate Cancer Progression. Cancer Cell. 2010; 17(5):443-454. PMID:20478527 / PMCID:PMC2874722

Maher CA, Palanisamy N, Brenner JC, Cao X, Kalyana-Sundaram S, Luo S, Khrebtukova I, Barrette T, Grasso C, Yu J, Lonigro R, Schroth G, Kumar-Sinha C, Chinnaiyan AM. Chimera transcript discovery by paired-end transcriptome sequencing. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2009; 106(30):12353-12358. PMID:19592507 / PMCID:PMC2708976

Varambally S*, Cao Q*, Mani R, Shankar S, Wang X, Ateeq B, Laxman B, Cao X, Jing X, Ramnarayanan K, Brenner JC, Yu J, Kim J, Han B, Tan P, Kumar-Sinha C, Palanisamy N, Lonigro R, Maher C, Chinnaiyan AC. Genomic Loss of microRNA-101 Leads to Overexpression of Histone Methyltransferase EZH2 in Cancer. Science. 2008; 322(5908):1695-1699. PMID:19008416 / PMCID:PMC2684823