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Matthew J. Gdovin, Ph.D.


Phone: (210) 458-5768

Lab website:

Areas of Specialization

» Photodynamic cancer therapy


Ph.D. in Physiology; Dartmouth College
B.S. in Biology; University of Texas at San Antonio


Research Interests

Dr. Gdovin's laboratory is interested in the role of pH on cancer growth with the goal of manipulating pH dynamics as a means of developing effective cancer therapeutics. The acidic extracellular tumor microenvironment is created by the action of Na+/H+ exchanger 1 (NHE1), and facilitates tumor aggressiveness, and migration and metastasis, as well as vascular endothelial growth factor mediated angiogenesis. In addition, the acidic microenvironment may play a major role in chemoresistance, as the protonation in the acidic tumor microenvironment may inhibit the entry of many of the mildly basic cancer drugs. Given the important role of pH buffering in cancer growth and development, disruption of NHE1 and subsequent changes in intracellular pH (pHi) and extracellular pH (pHe) presents a logical therapeutic approach. While intracellular acidification therapies have been developed to induce decreases in pHi, there are currently no known methodologies that can induce decreases of only pHi without concomitant decreases in extracellular pH in a site directed manner. The lab recently combined the use of fluorescent pH indicator dyes to optically record pHi with the photoactivation of caged compounds to develop a novel photodynamic cancer therapeutic. This novel treatment killed 98% of cancer cells within 3 hours, with no changes to untreated control cells. The technique was also effective in causing significant reductions in the growth of Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) tumors and nearly doubling survival time in mice. To date, the technique has been successful in killing two types of breast cancer, two types of prostate cancer, and one form of pancreatic cancer, supporting their hypothesis that reducing pHi to cause apoptosis may be a mechanism to kill multiple forms of cancer which cancer cells can evade. The lab has also begun the development of a targeted upconverting nanoparticle capable of causing pH-induced apoptosis and subsequent cancer cell death.



Click here for a list of publications.