The Englander Institute for Precision Medicine’s (EIPM) Symposium fueled innovation and collaboration, bringing together nearly 200 faculty, students, and research staff last Thursday, November 15th. The inaugural event, “Innovations and Emerging Opportunities in Personalized Medicine,” featured speakers across areas of expertise from Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University, Cornell Tech, and NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. The full day of presentations covered topics of Novel Therapeutics, Technological Advancements, Drug Target Discovery, and Big Data Integration.
The day began with opening remarks from Weill Cornell Medicine Dean, Augustine Choi, M.D. Setting the tone for the symposium, Dean Choi noted that “the science, both basic and translational, staff and infrastructure has made us leaders in precision medicine.”
Building off of this enthusiasm, EIPM Director Olivier Elemento, Ph.D., highlighted accomplishments of the EIPM and the role the Institute will play in the future of genomics. He emphasized genomics as a resource that will continue to help clinicians better diagnose, treat, and prevent disease in the future. Encouraging the benefits of cross-campus collaboration, Dr. Elemento’s presentation ended with a commitment to bringing personalized medicine to every patient, regardless of their financial resources.
Presentations throughout the day focused on research, technology, and patient care needed to make precision medicine a success at Weill Cornell Medicine.
The Englander Institute’s Director of Pathology, Juan Miguel Mosquera, M.D., first detailed disease focused working groups, which EIPM Director of Bladder Cancer Research, Bishoy Faltas, M.D. elaborated on during his talk, “Evolution-targeted therapy of urothelial carcinoma.” Recently appointed Director of Innovation, Alicia Alonso, Ph.D., and Director of the Center for Reproductive Genomics Dolores Lamb, Ph.D, spoke on epigenomics for precision medicine, and the genomic basis of genitourinary birth defects.
Duane Hassane, Ph.D.,shared recent advances in research detecting and directing clonal hematopoiesis, and the anticipated PreCISE-1 platform. He provided some levity during his remarks, observing that, “We’re all mutants. By the time we reach our 80’s we all have multiple cellular mutations.” To which Andrea Sboner, Ph.D., wryly predicted the day would be a ‘genomical’ success. Then returning to the serious nature of the symposium, Dr. Sboner explored cutting-edge bioinformatics technologies to foster precision medicine, and affirmed that he was proud to provide high quality genomics results to our patients.
Technology and cutting-edge solutions were covered by Director of the Center for Neurogenetics, M. Elizabeth Ross, M.D., Ph.D., Marcin Imielinski, M.D, Ph.D., and Iman Hajirasouliha, Ph.D., who explained approaches to working through unresolved cases, signatures of complex structural variation and novel algorithms for sequencing data.
A brief networking lunch followed for participants to learn more about our Tumor Organoid and High-Throughput Drug Screening platforms, resources like the Preclinical Pharmacyand Hyperion Imaging System, as well as programs like NIH’s All of UsResearch Initiative.
Aiming to enhance clinician’s impact, David M. Nanus, M.D.,Chief, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, remarked that accessto clinical trials is still an issue for patients. Audience members agreed that precision medicine can help define new trials by changing the paradigm from organs to genomic profiles, a theory that continued throughout the Improving Patient Caresession. William Rodgers, M.D., Ph.D.,Chairman, NYP/Q Department of Pathology, echoed his commitment to personalized medicine and translational research taking steps to integrate biospecimen acquisition into surgical and pathology practice.
Cora Sternberg, M.D., the Englander Institute’s new Clinical Director, discussed the significance of genomics on diagnoses and treatment in prostate cancer. Her remarks struck Panos Vlachostergios, M.D., Ph.D., afellow in Dr. Faltas’ labas especially insightful, “Dr. Sternberg provided an excellent summary of how precision medicine is altering the present and future of prostate cancer management. She is the expert in this field.”
Recalling a case that responded exceptionally well to personalized therapy, Allyson Ocean, M.D.,co-founder of Let’s Win: Pancreatic Cancer, relayed her patient’s appreciation for their genomic sequencing report. “The precision medicine report suddenly took the nameless, shapeless enemy of mine, and snapped into focus. It took away the terror of being a cancer patient.”
Program Manager for the Institute’s clinical team, Noah Greco, M.B.A., highlighted the multidisciplinary team working together to processes these reports, and how clinicians can order genomic tests going forward. He mentioned that mobile applications to collect clinical data are in development, and will help provide clinicians with real time responses to treatment for better patient care.
Collaborative Researchconcluded the day, with Monica L. Guzman, Ph.D., presenting on targeting AML with the epichaperome at the single cell level, and Evi Giannakakou, Ph.D. discussing molecular, computational, and clinical translation approaches to overcoming drug resistance in cancer. Yariv Houvras, M.D., Ph.D., and Benjamin Hopkins, Ph.D. discussed personalized models in cancer and steps to move from bench to bedside. Dr. Hopkins reported promising progress on the Tumor Organoid platform, supported by cross campus collaboration with Ankur Singh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University, and materials-based engineered organoids.
The symposium was an important reminder of the potential of precision medicine to benefit a wide range of patients. We look forward to advancing research and discovery efforts across the Cornell community through continued collaboration. Thank you to all speakers, WCM, Cornell University and Cornell Tech faculty and staff for interest and enthusiasm.
Top photo of Symposium attendees by Christopher Mason @mason_lab