Research Summary

Dr. Okimoto is a medical oncologist who specializes in the treatment of sarcomas and lung cancer. He is a laboratory based physician-scientist who broadly aims to translate basic science discoveries into novel therapies for patients with cancer. He is currently interested in understanding how cancer cells gain transcriptional dependence to drive tumor progression and metastasis.

Research Funding

  • June 17, 2021 - May 31, 2026 - Therapeutic degradation of Capicua (CIC) fused oncoproteins in undifferentiated sarcomas , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: R37CA255453
  • February 1, 2018 - January 31, 2023 - Therapeutic rescue of the transcriptional repressor Capicua to inhibit lung cancer metastasis , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: K08CA222625


Creighton University, Omaha, NE, BS, 05/2002, Biology
Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha, NE, MD, 05/2009, Medicine
Tufts Medical Center, Boston, MA Residency, 06/2012, Internal Medicine
University of California, San Francisco, CA, Fellowship, 06/2017, Medical Oncology

Honors & Awards

  • 1999-2001
    Creighton University Presidential Scholar
  • 2003
    Harvard University Health Careers Scholarship
  • 2007
    Creighton University School of Medicine Dean's Educational Scholarship
  • 2010
    Dean's Excellence in Teaching Citation - Intern, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • 2011
    Dean's Excellence in Teaching Citation - Resident, Tufts University School of Medicine
  • 2012
    Resident Teacher of the Year Award, Department of Internal Medicine, Tufts Medical Center
  • 2014-2015
    NIH T32 Molecular Pathology of Cancer Award
  • 2015
    AAAS/Science Program for Excellence in Science
  • 2015
    Best Basic Science Research Poster - UCSF Hematology/Oncology Research Retreat
  • 2015
    A.P. Giannini Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2016
    Best Basic Science Research Poster - UCSF Hematology/Oncology Research
  • Retreat
  • 2017
    Best Basic Science Research Presentation - UCSF Hematology/Oncology Research Retreat
  • 2017
    Best Research Poster Award - UCSF Hematology/Oncology Research Conference
  • 2018
    NIH-NCI Career Development Award (K08)
  • 2018
    UCSF Department of Medicine Cohort Initiative Award
  • 2019
    American Society of Clinical Investigation Young Physician Scientist Award

Selected Publications

  1. Gupta N, Song H, Wu W, Ponce RK, Lin YK, Kim JW, Small EJ, Feng FY, Huang FW, Okimoto RA. The CIC-ERF co-deletion underlies fusion-independent activation of ETS family member, ETV1, to drive prostate cancer progression. Elife. 2022 Nov 16; 11.  View on PubMed
  2. Kim JW, Luck C, Wu W, Ponce RK, Lin YK, Gupta N, Okimoto RA. Capicua suppresses YAP1 to limit tumorigenesis and maintain drug sensitivity in human cancer. Cell Rep. 2022 10 04; 41(1):111443.  View on PubMed
  3. Bennett NK, Nakaoka HJ, Laurent D, Okimoto RA, Sei Y, Horvai AE, Bivona TG, Ten Hoeve J, Graeber TG, Nakamura K, Nakamura JL. Primary and metastatic tumors exhibit systems-level differences in dependence on mitochondrial respiratory function. PLoS Biol. 2022 09; 20(9):e3001753.  View on PubMed
  4. Nanjo S, Wu W, Karachaliou N, Blakely CM, Suzuki J, Chou YT, Ali SM, Kerr DL, Olivas VR, Shue J, Rotow J, Mayekar MK, Haderk F, Chatterjee N, Urisman A, Yeo JC, Skanderup AJ, Tan AC, Tam WL, Arrieta O, Hosomichi K, Nishiyama A, Yano S, Kirichok Y, Tan DS, Rosell R, Okimoto RA, Bivona TG. Deficiency of the splicing factor RBM10 limits EGFR inhibitor response in EGFR-mutant lung cancer. J Clin Invest. 2022 07 01; 132(13).  View on PubMed
  5. Gounder MM, Agaram NP, Trabucco SE, Robinson V, Ferraro RA, Millis SZ, Krishnan A, Lee J, Attia S, Abida W, Drilon A, Chi P, Angelo SP, Dickson MA, Keohan ML, Kelly CM, Agulnik M, Chawla SP, Choy E, Chugh R, Meyer CF, Myer PA, Moore JL, Okimoto RA, Pollock RE, Ravi V, Singh AS, Somaiah N, Wagner AJ, Healey JH, Frampton GM, Venstrom JM, Ross JS, Ladanyi M, Singer S, Brennan MF, Schwartz GK, Lazar AJ, Thomas DM, Maki RG, Tap WD, Ali SM, Jin DX. Clinical genomic profiling in the management of patients with soft tissue and bone sarcoma. Nat Commun. 2022 06 15; 13(1):3406.  View on PubMed
  6. Ponce RKM, Thomas NJ, Bui NQ, Kondo T, Okimoto RA. WEE1 kinase is a therapeutic vulnerability in CIC-DUX4 undifferentiated sarcoma. JCI Insight. 2022 03 22; 7(6).  View on PubMed
  7. Wustrack RL, Shao E, Sheridan J, Zimel M, Cho SJ, Horvai AE, Luong D, Kwek SS, Fong L, Okimoto RA. Tumor morphology and location associate with immune cell composition in pleomorphic sarcoma. Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2021 Oct; 70(10):3031-3040.  View on PubMed
  8. Quinn JJ, Jones MG, Okimoto RA, Nanjo S, Chan MM, Yosef N, Bivona TG, Weissman JS. Single-cell lineages reveal the rates, routes, and drivers of metastasis in cancer xenografts. Science. 2021 02 26; 371(6532).  View on PubMed
  9. Nothdurft S, Thumser-Henner C, Breitenbücher F, Okimoto RA, Dorsch M, Opitz CA, Sadik A, Esser C, Hölzel M, Asthana S, Forster J, Beisser D, Kalmbach S, Grüner BM, Bivona TG, Schramm A, Schuler M. Functional screening identifies aryl hydrocarbon receptor as suppressor of lung cancer metastasis. Oncogenesis. 2020 Nov 19; 9(11):102.  View on PubMed
  10. Kim JW, Ponce RK, Okimoto RA. Capicua in Human Cancer. Trends Cancer. 2021 01; 7(1):77-86.  View on PubMed
  11. Lin YK, Wu W, Ponce RK, Kim JW, Okimoto RA. Negative MAPK-ERK regulation sustains CIC-DUX4 oncoprotein expression in undifferentiated sarcoma. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020 08 25; 117(34):20776-20784.  View on PubMed
  12. Okimoto RA, Wu W, Nanjo S, Olivas V, Lin YK, Ponce RK, Oyama R, Kondo T, Bivona TG. CIC-DUX4 oncoprotein drives sarcoma metastasis and tumorigenesis via distinct regulatory programs. J Clin Invest. 2019 07 22; 129(8):3401-3406.  View on PubMed
  13. Fish L, Navickas A, Culbertson B, Xu Y, Nguyen HCB, Zhang S, Hochman M, Okimoto R, Dill BD, Molina H, Najafabadi HS, Alarcón C, Ruggero D, Goodarzi H. Nuclear TARBP2 Drives Oncogenic Dysregulation of RNA Splicing and Decay. Mol Cell. 2019 09 05; 75(5):967-981.e9.  View on PubMed
  14. Okimoto RA, Bivona TG. Metastasis: From head to tail. Cell Cycle. 2017 03 19; 16(6):487-488.  View on PubMed
  15. Okimoto RA, Breitenbuecher F, Olivas VR, Wu W, Gini B, Hofree M, Asthana S, Hrustanovic G, Flanagan J, Tulpule A, Blakely CM, Haringsma HJ, Simmons AD, Gowen K, Suh J, Miller VA, Ali S, Schuler M, Bivona TG. Inactivation of Capicua drives cancer metastasis. Nat Genet. 2017 01; 49(1):87-96.  View on PubMed
  16. Okimoto RA, Lin L, Olivas V, Chan E, Markegard E, Rymar A, Neel D, Chen X, Hemmati G, Bollag G, Bivona TG. Preclinical efficacy of a RAF inhibitor that evades paradoxical MAPK pathway activation in protein kinase BRAF-mutant lung cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 11 22; 113(47):13456-13461.  View on PubMed
  17. Premasekharan G, Gilbert E, Okimoto RA, Hamirani A, Lindquist KJ, Ngo VT, Roy R, Hough J, Edwards M, Paz R, Foye A, Sood R, Copren KA, Gubens M, Small EJ, Bivona TG, Collisson EA, Friedlander TW, Paris PL. An improved CTC isolation scheme for pairing with downstream genomics: Demonstrating clinical utility in metastatic prostate, lung and pancreatic cancer. Cancer Lett. 2016 09 28; 380(1):144-52.  View on PubMed
  18. Okimoto RA, Bivona TG. Tracking Down Response and Resistance to TRK Inhibitors. Cancer Discov. 2016 Jan; 6(1):14-6.  View on PubMed
  19. Hrustanovic G, Olivas V, Pazarentzos E, Tulpule A, Asthana S, Blakely CM, Okimoto RA, Lin L, Neel DS, Sabnis A, Flanagan J, Chan E, Varella-Garcia M, Aisner DL, Vaishnavi A, Ou SH, Collisson EA, Ichihara E, Mack PC, Lovly CM, Karachaliou N, Rosell R, Riess JW, Doebele RC, Bivona TG. RAS-MAPK dependence underlies a rational polytherapy strategy in EML4-ALK-positive lung cancer. Nat Med. 2015 Sep; 21(9):1038-47.  View on PubMed
  20. Okimoto RA, Bivona TG. AXL receptor tyrosine kinase as a therapeutic target in NSCLC. Lung Cancer (Auckl). 2015; 6:27-34.  View on PubMed

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