February 2022 EIPM Director’s Memo

February 2022 EIPM Director’s Memo

Dear Members of the Englander Institute,I hope this message finds you doing well and staying healthy! It’s hard to believe that January is already behind us, but as you’ll see below, we have a lot to show for the first month of 2022. In addition to robust news coverage, awards, events, and publications, we welcome three new senior members of our team. Drs. Cristofanilli, Kasi, and Al Assaad bring a wealth of experience and talent to the EIPM. The popular and competitive Summer Program for high school and college students that we administer with the Meyer Cancer Center is now accepting applications through March 4th. Please share news of the program and the application form within your personal and professional networks. We are still accepting applications for our two-year Clinical Research Fellowship in Precision Medicine. The Research Clinical Fellow will act as a bridge between oncologists, pathologists, surgeons, computational biologists and basic scientists, to use next generation sequencing of tumor genomes and pre-clinical models in high impact research studies. Click here for more information and to apply.Thank you for your hard work and continued dedication to our mission.Sincerely,Olivier Elemento, Ph.D.Meet the Staff!Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli is the new Scientific Director of the EIPM. With experience as Associate Director of Translational Research and Precision Medicine at Northwestern Medicine, Dr. Cristofanilli is an expert in the translational research and treatment of patients with inflammatory breast cancer and has led the development of novel diagnostic and prognostic markers in primary and metastatic breast cancer.

Dr. Pashtoon Kasi is the EIPM’s new Director for Liquid Biopsy Research. Dr. Kasi is an oncologist and researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where he focuses on treating patients with gastrointestinal cancers and in the treatment of patients with novel drugs/early-phase clinical trials. He also serves as the Director for Colorectal Cancer Research at Weill Cornell Medicine. Dr. Majd Al Assaad is a Research Fellow in Precision Medicine in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and a new Member of the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine. He worked as an Oncology Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the American University of Beirut Medical Center before completing one year of pathology residency at the same institution. We recently posted an interview with Dr. Al Assaad on the News page of our website. We hope you enjoy learning more about his background and research interests.

News Coverage & Awards Dr. Shahin Raffi and colleagues received a $500,000 grant from JDRF to evaluate an innovative approach to islet cell transplantation, an experimental treatment for type 1 diabetes. A mentee of mine, Dr. Veronica Rotemberg at Memorial Sloan Kettering, recently earned a KL2 Scholar Award! Her research focuses on “Improving Clinician Melanoma Diagnostic Accuracy using Artificial Intelligence.”In the article, “6 Biotech Breakthroughs of 2021 That Missed the Attention They Deserved,” I shared my thoughts about AlphaFold, an artificial intelligence system designed by Google’s DeepMind that opens the door to understanding the three-dimensional structures and functions of proteins. The article appeared in the publication Leaps on January 3rd. I was also interviewed for the article, “How critical insights from imaging mass cytometry are transforming precision medicine,” which appeared in Select Science on January 6th. Dr. Bishoy M. Faltas, our Director of Bladder Cancer Research, provided Expert Commentary to UroToday throughout the month: “Computational Prediction of Neoantigens in Patients with Urothelial Cancer,” on January 3rd; “Bladder EpiCheck Urine Methylation Test and Photodynamic Diagnostic Cystoscopy for the Surveillance of High-Risk Non-Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer,” on January 5th; “The Role of PKM2 in the Initiation and Maintenance of Bladder Cancer,” on January 11th; “Targeted Sequencing of Non-schistosomal Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Urinary Bladder,” on January 20th; “Epigenetic Priming of Bladder Cancer Cells to Enhance CAR T-cell Mediated Cytotoxicity,” on January 24th; “Safety of Adjuvant Radiotherapy after Radical Cystectomy for High-Risk Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer,” on January 26th; and “Immune Cell Infiltration Predicts Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Patients with Muscle-Invasive Bladder Cancer,” on January 28thDr. 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. Dr. Peter Martin was interviewed for the article, “Top Data in Mantle Cell Lymphoma From ASH 2021,” which appeared in MedScape on January 5th. Dr. Pashtoon Kasi, the EIPM’s new Director for Liquid Biopsy Research, was invited to submit the feature article, “ctDNA Assays: Exploring Their Clinical Use in Oncology Care,” which appeared in the ASCO Daily News on January 13th. Dr. Kasi was interviewed for an Oncology Tube podcast regarding “ASCO GI 2022: MSI-H Identified on Liquid Biopsy,” on January 31st. Dr. Pinkal Desai was interviewed for the article “Aggressive Supportive Treatment for COVID-19 May Be Needed in Patients With Hematologic Cancers,” which appeared in The ASCO Post on January 25th. Clinical Director Dr. Cora N. Sternberg participated in an Expert panel that followed a patient case to discuss locally advanced and metastatic urothelial carcinoma with a focus on frontline and maintenance therapy for the article, “Selecting Frontline Therapy for Metastatic Urothelial Carcinoma,” in CancerNetwork on January 29th.



The EIPM and Meyer Cancer Center are now accepting applications for our 2022 Summer Internship Program for high school (rising 11th & 12th graders) & college students interested in cancer biology, Precision Medicine, and STEM studies. Please share news of this program and the application widely within your personal and professional networks.  Dr. Melissa B. Davis presented a Pre-Cancer Atlas Seminar Series lecture before MD Anderson colleagues, “Disparities in Cancer – Filling in the Gaps,” on January 13th. The latest EIPM & Meyer Cancer Center Metastasis Working Group Seminar featured Dr. Yi-Chieh Nancy Du from WCM’s Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department and Dr. Yibin Kang from Princeton University and was held on January 26th. Dr. Hugo Aerts, Assoc. Prof. at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, presented an EIPM Seminar Series lecture, “Artificial Intelligence for Cancer Imaging,” on January 27th. Dr. John P. Leonardpresented a University of Miami Health System Sylvester Distinguished Lecture Series presentation, “Progress and Challenges in Precision Therapy for Lymphoma,” on January 28th. Upcoming: EIPM Member Dr. Rohit Chandwani will speak at the next Very Rare Cancer Consortium Disease Spotlight & Research Roundtable, which will focus on “Ampullary & Duodenal Cancer,” hosted by the New York Genome Center, on Feb. 3rd at 5 PM. Upcoming: EIPM’s Ex Vivo Models Director Dr. Laura Martin will participate in a SelectScience webinar, “How to optimize and overcome challenges in in vitro oncology models,” on February 3rd. Upcoming: Dr. Majd Al Assaad will present an EIPM Precision Medicine Conference Seminar, “83-year-old patient with metastatic carcinoma of unknown primary: Unraveling molecular underpinnings to predict tissue of origin,” on February 3rd at noon. PublicationsEIPM Clinical Director Dr. Cora N. Sternberg recently published a number of articles including: “Exposure-response relationship of ramucirumab in RANGE, a randomized phase III trial in advanced urothelial carcinoma refractory to platinum therapy,” in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology on January 13th; “Real-world outcomes of second novel hormonal therapy or radium-223 following first novel hormonal therapy for mCRPC,” Future Oncology, January 2022; and “Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Muscle-invasive Bladder Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Individual Participant Data from Randomised Controlled Trials,” in European Urology on January 1st. Current and former EIPM colleagues Drs. Brittany D. Lord, Rachel N. Martini and Melissa B. Davis collaborated on the publication, “Understanding how genetic ancestry may influence cancer development,” which appeared in Trends in Cancer on January 6th. Drs. André F Rendeiro, Jan Krumsiek, and I, along with several WCM investigators, published, “Metabolic and Immune Markers for Precise Monitoring of COVID-19 Severity and Treatment,” in Frontiers in Immunology on January 12th.Drs. Monica L. Guzman and Eti Sinha, with former colleague Dr. Duane Hassane published “Mutant PPM1D– and TP53-Driven Hematopoiesis Populates the Hematopoietic Compartment in Response to Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy,” in JCO Precision Oncology on January 13th. Dr. Karsten Suhre and colleagues published the pre-print, “Metabolic and proteomic signatures of type 2 diabetes subtypes in an Arab population,” in medRxiv on January 13th. Dr. Bishoy M. Faltas and colleagues Drs. Scott T. Tagawa, Ana M. Molina, Cora N. Sternberg, David M. NanusJuan Miguel Mosquera (WCM Pathology and Laboratory Medicine), and I published “Serial ctDNA analysis predicts clinical progression in patients with advanced urothelial carcinoma,” in the British Journal of Cancer on January 19th. Dr. Juan Miguel Mosquera from the WCM Pathology and Laboratory Medicine department, and EIPM’s Director of Research Pathology, along with EIPM and Pathology & Laboratory Medicine colleagues including Dr. Christopher Barbieri published “Collision tumors revealed by prospectively assessing subtype-defining molecular alterations 904 individual prostate cancer foci,” in JCI Insight on January 20th. Drs. Ekta Khurana, Karsten Suhre, M. Elizabeth Ross and I collaborated on the paper, “Systems biology analysis of human genomes points to key pathways conferring spina bifida risk,” in PNAS, on December 21st.  Dr. Melissa B. Davis lead a large team of WCM researchers including EIPM Members Drs. Andrea Sboner, Lisa Newman, Rachel Martini, and I in creating the new pre-print, “African-Ancestry Associated Gene Expression Signatures and Pathways in Triple Negative Breast Cancer, a Comparison Across Women of African Descent,” which appeared in medRxiv on January 28th. Dr. Bishoy M. Faltas co-authored the pre-print, “Recurrent exon-deleting activating mutations in AHR act as drivers of urinary tract cancer,” in bioRxiv on January 20th.

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