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Scott Haake, M.D., Ph.D

Assistant Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology Department of Medicine

Pub Med Publications

Dr. Haake is a kidney cancer-focused investigator and leads a research team focused on tumor cell interaction with the extracellular matrix, integrin signaling, biomarker development, and kidney cancer biology. Dr. Haake’s work spans multiple projects, including basic cancer biology research, animal models of cancer, translational work in human tissues and clinical trials. His work is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Kure It Foundation, and the Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program. As a board-certified medical oncologist, Dr. Haake has a kidney and genitourinary cancer-focused clinic and cares for patients at both Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the Nashville VA Hospital.

Dr. Haake has been awarded Young Investigator Awards by the American Association of Cancer Research (2015) and the Kidney Cancer Association (2019). He has also received a Research Scholars Award from the American Urological Association (2016). In 2008 he was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society during his junior year of medical school. In 2005, Haake received the King-O’Neal Scholar Award, an award reserved for those graduating first in their class at the University of South Florida.

After graduating from the University of South Florida with honors (summa cum laude) with a degree in biomedical sciences in 2005, Haake earned a Medical Degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine in 2009. He completed internal medicine training at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, NC (2011) and hematology/oncology fellowship at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL (2015). He was subsequently recruited to Vanderbilt University Medical Center as an Instructor of Medicine. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 2020 and completed a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from Vanderbilt University in 2022. He has authored or co-authored approximately 20 articles published din the peer-reviewed scientific literature. In addition to his current funding, his research has previously been funded by the Conquer Cancer Foundation, American Urological Association, the Vanderbilt Clinical Oncology Research Career Development Program, the Kidney Cancer Association, and the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

The research program in the lab focuses on studying the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) signaling during tumor initiation and evolution. In some contexts, such as lung cancer, we have shown that cancer cells exhibit constitutive, ligand-independent activation of ECM receptors, and this signaling is required for tumor initiation. However, it is known that integrin signaling in cancer is context dependent. Thus, while some integrins may promote tumorigenesis in some cellular contexts, they may function as tumor suppressors in other cells and/or cancer types. Our current work is focused on understanding the biological factors that regulate integrin signaling in various tumor types.

Our translational and clinical work is focused on biomarker development in kidney cancer. We are leading a multi-institutional effort to collect blood samples from patients with stage IV, metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma who are receiving immunotherapy. We collect blood samples at multiple time points during therapy. Samples are then shipped to our lab where we extract tumor cell free DNA. We then work with collaborators at multiple institutions to identify and quantitate the tumor cell free DNA using cutting-edge Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies.

Finally, we are collaborating with multiple investigators and institutions to test a novel biomarker designed to match cancer patients to the right therapy based on the biology of their tumors. This new biomarker relies on NGS-based RNA sequencing to measure the gene expression of the patient’s tumor.  Based on this data, the patient is then assigned a treatment tailored to their tumor’s biology. This phase II clinical trial, termed the OPtimal Treatment by Invoking biologic Clusters in Renal Cell Carcinoma or OPTIC-RCC trial, will accrue at multiple cancer centers across the country. For more information see