Research Institute

Western Connecticut Health Network Research Institute

The Western Connecticut Health Network Research Institute has joined the ranks of leading research organizations nationwide in the field of molecular science and personalized medicine. The Institute includes a team of renowned scientists known for their groundbreaking work and expertise in various research disciplines. The goal is to advance the health of our community by bringing innovative biomedical research findings to patients in clinical settings as soon and safely as possible.

Modern research facility

Located at 131 West St. in Danbury Connecticut, the Institute focuses on Cancer and Lyme disease research. The 17,000-square-facility houses state-of-the-art equipment for basic research and complements ongoing research being conducted at the hospital, including clinical trials and epidemiologic studies. Our open style laboratory structure encourages an environment of collaborative research where our scientists with expertise in a myriad of fields, share resources and knowledge across institutional and disciplinary lines.

A New Era of Drug Discovery Begins

The biomedical research group headed by Dr. Cristiano Ferlini’s group is making great progress on the development of novel biomarkers for early identification of patients at high risk for colorectal, ovarian and breast cancer disease progression and death. This would help warrant adjuvant chemotherapy for these patients based on their clinical circumstance rather than stage of disease. It would also help optimize treatment protocols with new cytotoxic agents and biological therapies based on the unique molecular characteristics of the patient’s tumor. This group is also in the early stages for development and commercialization of SelectRightDx, a new diagnostic tool that can be used to effectively select patients for enrollment in clinical trials for a targeted agent or drug. The success of this tool relies on the novel approach that simultaneously combines and integrates biomarkers from multiple molecular dimensions (microRNA, gene and protein) to generate accurate predictors for cancer patient's outcome to different therapies.

The pathology research group headed by Dr. Paul Fiedler is working on the development of a diagnostic blood test for Lyme disease. This novel test directly visualizes the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi that is infectious agent transmitted by ticks. This would lead to early detection of the disease and thus allow for early therapeutic intervention for prevention of the progression of Lyme's disease. Dr Fiedler's group is working together with RareCyte Inc., an early-stage life science company dedicated to the characterization and retrieval of rare cells in blood. The long term goal of this partnership is to develop a sensitive and specific direct visualization laboratory test for Lyme disease with demonstrated clinical utility. Working towards this goal, Rarecyte, Inc. in collaboration with Dr Paul Fiedler’s group at the research institute has procured a $600,000 grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR).

The Studies for Gynecologic Oncology research group headed by Dr. John Martignetti is our most recent hire. He will assemble his own research group here at the institute and will be collaborating with Mount Sinai hospital to establish a state-of-the-art precision medicine program linking gynecologic/oncology patient clinical care and genomic information to improved treatment and surveillance. He will create a local IRB-approved bio repository from gynecologic/oncology patient samples from the WCHN network of hospitals. He will be pursuing the discovery of novel disease surveillance biomarkers to characterize ovarian cancer to predict platinum sensitivity and develop new novel therapeutics.

Patient Benefits of Biomedical Research

The potential patient benefits of our research include the development of:

  • New drugs and less toxic therapies that target cancer cells while sparing healthy health tissue
  • More effective personalized drugs based on an individuals' unique proteomic and genomic signature
  • New diagnostic techniques using protein biomarkers to identify people who are at risk or who are likely to resist certain treatment regimens

For More Information

 If you would like to know more about the Western Connecticut Health Network Research Institute, please contact the Department of Medical Education and Research.

To learn more about Danbury Hospital, please visit the patient and visitor section of this website.