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Faculty Information

Peter G Sacks, Ph.D.
Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology

Fax: 212-995-4087



1968 B.A., Queens College
1978 Ph.D., Syracuse University
1978-81 Post-doc. University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
1981-84 Post doc. Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research, New York State Department of Health


Research Interests / Professional Overview:

  • Biology of multistage carcinogenesis using in vitro models of normal, premalignant and malignant oral epithelial cells.
  • Development of new chemopreventive strategies/agents for oral cancer.
  • Development of an in vitro oral multistage carcinogenesis model to analyze tobacco-induced mutations.

Multistage Carcinogenesis, Premalignancy and Oral Cancer

My laboratory is interested in the biology of oral cancer. We have established an in vitro human multistage carcinogenesis model for oral cancer, consisting of primary cultures of normal oral epithelial cells, cell lines developed from dysplastic leukoplakia (considered premalignant) and oral squamous carcinoma cell lines. The biological basis of precancer is ill understood and we are examining the influence of the microenvironment on cell-cell interactions (normal? progressed cells) as a model for premalignant lesions. The microenvironment encompases the spatial organization of cells and includes influences of extracellular matrix material on which epithelial cells rest as well as information that is received from the stromal compartment. The microenvironment will influence cell-cell interactions and tissue homeostasis. In addition to studying the biology of the premalignant state, cell lines from dysplastic leukoplakia are relevant for examining the concept of chemoprevention. As a therapeutic modality, chemoprevention has shown efficacy with precancereous oral tissues. We are using our in vitro models to examine specific preventive agents with respect to efficacy and mechanisms of action.


Current Funding:

NIH, Cell-cell & cell-stroma regulation in oral premalignancy; P.I.
Susan Komen Foundation: Combination chemoprevention of mutagenesis and related endpoints in mammary epithelial cells and rat mammary tissue, Collaborator


Pub Med Articles:

Sacks PG


Representative Publications:

Sacks PG, Parnes SM, Price JC, Risemberg H, Goldstein JC, Parsons DF. In vitro control of differentiation by calcium in explants of human and murine epithelial tissues. In Vitro 21:99-107, 1985.

Sacks PG, Oke V, Calkins DP, Vasey T, Terry NHA. Effects of β-all-trans retinoic acid on growth, proliferation, and cell death in a multicellular tumor spheroid model for squamous carcinomas. Journal of Cellular Physiology 144:237-243, 1990.

Sacks PG, Harris D, Chou T-C. Modulation of growth and proliferation in squamous cell carcinoma by retinoic acid: a rationale for combination therapy with chemotherapeutic agents. International Journal of Cancer 61:409-415, 1995.

Sacks PG. Cell, tissue and organ culture as in vitro models to study the biology of squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck. Cancer and Metastasis Reviews 15:27-51, 1996.

Khafif A, Schantz SP, Chou T-C, Edelstein D, Sacks PG. Quantitation of chemopreventive synergism between (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate and curcumin in normal, premalignant and malignant human oral epithelial cells. Carcinogenesis 19:419-424, 1998.

Sacks PG. Hypercoabulability preceding cancer. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis 3:580-1, 2005.

Vigneswaran N, Wu J, Sacks P, Gilcrease M, Zacharias W. Microarray gene expression profiling of cell lines from primary and metastatic tongue squamous cell carcinoma: Possible insights from emerging technology. Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine 34:77-86, 2005.

Huang Q, Sacks PG, Mo J, McCormick SA, Iacob CE, Guo L, Schaefer S, Schantz SP. A simple method for fixation and microdissection of frozen fresh tissue sections for molecular cytogenetic analysis of cancers. Biotechnic & Histochemistry 80:147-156, 2005.

Vigneswaran N, Beckers S, Waigel S, Mensah J, Wu J, Mo J, Fleisher KE, Bouquot J, Sacks PG, Zacharias W. Increased EMMPRIN (CD 147) expression during oral carcinogenesis. Experimental and Molecular Pathology 80:147-159, 2006.

Zhao Z, Kosinska W, Khmelnitsky M, Cavalieri EL, Rogan EG, Chakravarti D, Sacks PG and Guttenplan JB. Mutagenic activity of 4-hydroxyestradiol, but not 2-hydroxyestradiol, in BB Rat2 embryonic cells, and the mutational spectrum of 4-hydroxyestradiol. Chemical Research in Toxicology 19:475-479, 2006.

Rothschild Bl, Shim AH, Ammer AG, Kelley LC, Irby KB, Head JA, Chen L,Varella-Garcia M, Sacks PG, Frederick B, Raben D, Weed SA. Cortactin overexpression regulates actin-related protein 2/3 complex activity, motility, and invasion in carcinomas with chromosome 11q13 amplification. Cancer Research 66:8017-8025, 2006.