January 2022 EIPM Director’s Memo

January 2022

Dear Members of the Englander Institute,

Despite the challenges posed by the ongoing global pandemic, we made significant advancements in research, speed new treatments to patients like Cheryl Bonder, generated impressive news media coverage, earned high-profile awards, lead scientific events and conferences, expanded engagement with our growing social media audiences, and published research in leading journals.

None of these accomplishments would be possible without the remarkable efforts of our amazing staff, from young people like Jenna Moyer to more senior staff featured in our recent EIPM video branding campaign. Together, we made great strides in 2021 and are poised to do even more in the coming year.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication during this especially challenging year, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2022.


Olivier Elemento, Ph.D.

Meet the Staff!
Matt Wickersham is a former grad student in my lab who founded the WCM Wellness Qlinic, a student-run clinic focusing on LGBTQ+ mental health care. I hope you enjoy learning more about Matt’s research interests and background.

Last month we launched a fun video branding campaign on our Twitter and Facebook pages to introduce our growing social media audiences to the people who make the EIPM such a special place. More than a dozen of our colleagues have been highlighted in these videos including, Drs. Kristy A. BrownNiroshana Anandasabapathy, Cora N. Sternberg, and Melissa B. Davis. The videos are hosted on our YouTube channel, which I encourage you to explore.

News Coverage & Awards
Congratulations to Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Ross who was named president-elect of the American Neurological Association, a professional society of academic neurologists and neuroscientists, on December 6th. Dr. Ross was featured in an article, “Researchers Develop New Approach to Analyzing Complex Genetics Underlying Spina Bifida,” that originally appeared on the WCM Newsroom website on December 16th.

Dr. Iman Hajirasouliha received funding for postdoc positions to study deep learning, imaging, human genetics, cancer genomics, and precision medicine in collaboration with my lab and with Dr. Popic of the Broad Institute. Thank you in advance for sharing news of this opportunity within your professional networks.

I was honored to have a mentee, Dr. Veronica M. Rotemberg, now a Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center faculty member, recently win a CTSC KL2 Scholar Award. Her research focuses on “Improving Clinician Melanoma Diagnostic Accuracy using Artificial Intelligence.”

Dr. Nasser Khaled Altorki was interviewed for the article, “Atezolizumab Provides Option for Patients With NSCLC at High Risk of Recurrence,” which appeared in OncLive on December 2nd.

Dr. Scott T. Tagawa was interviewed for the article, “Study investigates PSMA-targeted radionuclide therapy in men with mCRPC,” which appeared in Urology Times, on December 2nd, and the article “Dr. Tagawa discusses PSMA-targeted radionuclide therapy in men with mCRPC,” in Urology Times on December 10th.

Dr. Pinkal Desai, the EIPM Molecular Aging Institute’s Clinical Director, was interviewed for the article, “For leukemias, COVID-19 death risks tied to poor prognoses, ICU deferrals,” which appeared in MedEdge on December 11th, “COVID-19 more severe in patients with active acute leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome,” in Healio on December 13th; “Study Identifies Factors for Severe COVID-19 Illness Among Patients With Acute Leukemia or MDS,” in The ASCO Post on December 12th.; and “Active Disease, ICU Deferral Linked With COVID-19–Related Mortality in AML, ALL, and MDS,” in OncLive on December 11th.

Dr. Richard R. Furman was interviewed for the article, “BTK Inhibitors in the Management of CLL,” in OncLive on December 8th.

I was honored to host a high-level French delegation on a tour of our facilities on December 4th. Joining us were: Frédérique Vidal, the French Minister of Higher Education, Research & Innovation; Jérémie Robert, the French Consul General in New York City; Philippe Etienne, the Ambassador of France to the USA; and Gilles Bloch, CEO of INSERM.

Dr. Aziz Nazha, Practice Manager, Data and Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services delivered an EIPM Seminar Series lecture, “Artificial Intelligence in Hematologic Malignancies,” on December 7th.

Dr. Melissa B. Davis join a panel discussion on Trust in Science and Healthcare-Diversity in Clinical Trials during the 2021 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on December 7th.

Upcoming: Dr. Lorenzo Galluzzi will present a KU Leuven VIB Cancer Biology Lecture on January 13th, “Immunological mechanisms of Resistance to CDK4/6 inhibitors in breast cancer,” contact Sarah.Vlayen@kuleuven.be for more information.

Dr. Pinkal Desai presented several lectures, including “So You’re in a Remission. Now What?” during the ASH Annual Meeting on December 13th.

Clinical Director Dr. Cora N. Sternberg published several papers recently, including, “Decrease of Pro-Angiogenic Monocytes Predicts Clinical Response to Anti-Angiogenic Treatment in Patients with Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma,” in Cells on December 22nd, and “Avelumab maintenance in advanced urothelial carcinoma: biomarker analysis of the phase 3 JAVELIN Bladder 100 trial,” in Nature Medicine on December 10th. And ICYMI: “Efficacy and Safety of Cabazitaxel Versus Abiraterone or Enzalutamide in Older Patients with Metastatic Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer in the CARD Study,” in Eur Urol, 2021 Oct; “Baseline neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio as a predictive and prognostic biomarker in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer treated with cabazitaxel versus abiraterone or enzalutamide in the CARD study,” in J.ESMO Open, 2021 Oct; and “Real-world outcomes of second novel hormonal therapy or radium-223 following first novel hormonal therapy for mCRPC,” in Future Oncol, 2021 Oct 12.

Dr. Jonathan Zippin published, “A Randomized Trial of Wearable UV dosimeter for Skin Cancer Prevention,” in medRxiv on December 1st.

Dr. Lorenzo Galluzzi published “Using epigenetic modifiers to target cancer stem cell immunoevasion,” in Cancer Cell on December 13th, and published “MDSCs sneak Cancer stem cells (CSCs) out of (immuno)surveillance. CSCs are known for their superior tumor-initiating and tumor-repopulating potential, partly reflecting their pronounced ability to evade immune recognition.” Trends in Immunology Spotlight, January 01, 2022.

EIPM and Meyer Cancer Center Members Drs. Paraskevi Giannakakou, Manish Shah, and I collaborated on a new paper in Developmental Cell, “Protein Variant Identified that Renders Chemotherapy Ineffective in Gastric Cancer,” that was featured on the WCM News Room website on December 6th.

Our former colleague Dr. Akanksha Verma, doctoral candidate Yajas Shah, and I collaborated on a new paper in Cell Reports on December 7th that was also featured on the WCM News Room, “Researchers Identify Significant Differences in Tumor Characteristics Between Younger and Older Cancer Patients,” website and repurposed on the EIPM website on December 7th.

Dr. Dolores J. Lamb co-authored an editorial under the headline, “Are worldwide sperm counts declining?,” in the journal Fertility and Sterility on December 1st.

Dr. Bishoy Faltas published Expert Commentary in UroToday: “Results of Bevacizumab-Chemotherapy Combinations for Patients with Advanced Urothelial Cancer,” on December 14th; and “Immune Checkpoint Blockade and Targeted Agent Combos in Advanced Urothelial Cancer,” on December 20th.

Dr. Vivek Mittal published “Copper depletion modulates mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation to impair triple negative breast cancer metastasis,” in Nature Communications on December 15th.

Joonghoon Auh, Michael Sigouros, and I co-authored, “Detecting neuroendocrine prostate cancer through tissue-informed cell-free DNA methylation analysis,” in Clinical Cancer Research on December 10th.

# # #