April 2019

Dear Colleagues,

Spring is in the air, and with it a flurry of activity by EIPM team members. I’m very happy to share some of the newly published papers, events, and news media coverage from the past month, and to highlight some important upcoming developments.

EIPM members published five new papers in March. Himisha Beltran, M.D., Loredana Puca, Ph.D. (left) and colleagues published “Delta-like protein 3 expression and therapeutic targeting in neuroendocrine prostate cancer,” in Science Translational Medicine. Bishoy Faltas, M.D.and colleagues published “Oncogenic Addiction to ERBB2 Signaling Predicts Response to Trastuzumab in Urothelial Cancer,” in JNCCN. EIPM member Ankur Singh, Ph.D.and EIPM resident doctoral student Matthew Mosquera together with colleagues published “Immunomodulatory nanogels overcome restricted immunity in a murine model of gut microbiome-mediated metabolic syndrome,” in Science Advances. EIPM member Christopher Barbieri, M.D.,along with colleagues, published “CHD1 Loss Alters AR Binding at Lineage-Specific Enhancers and Modulates Distinct Transcriptional Programs to Drive Prostate Tumorigenesis,” in Cancer Cell. EIPM Core Team Member Juan Miguel Mosquera, M.D.and colleagues published “Identification of a therapeutic target using molecular sequencing for treatment of recurrent uterine serous adenocarcinoma,” in Gynecologic Oncology Reports. See Dr. Holcomb explain his research in this ABC News segment.

EIPM staff participated in high-profiles events in March. Eleni Andreopoulou, M.D. and Kristy A. Brown, Ph.D. hosted a multi-disciplinary retreat on March 13th showcasing breast cancer initiatives, and led discussions around disease etiology, novel therapies and more. Eight of our colleagues presented posters at the USCAP annual pathology meeting, including Shaham Beg, M.D., Aram Vosoughi, M.D.and Maria Mastropaolo, B.S. You can watch a short video of Shaham, who just matched with WCM’s Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Department, as an incoming AP/CP Resident, explain his poster here.  If you know of someone interested in joining the EIPM team, help to spread the word that we have open positions for Postdoc Fellows. Details can be found on here.

Please visit our website to read about our newest member Wael Al Zoughbi, M.D., Ph.D., (right)and Jenny Xiang, M.D., who has led the Genomics Resources Core Facility for almost 20 years. Ankur Singh, Ph.D. and doctoral student Matthew Mosquera, along with colleagues from Cornell in Ithaca, developed a new class of biomaterial for an infectious disease nanovaccine to boost immunity among people with metabolic syndrome.

Last month I spoke with the Precision Medicine Institute about genetic medicine adoption, and Cora Sternberg, M.D. sat down for an interview with UroToday about recent pivotal trials in prostate cancer. EIPM’s Manish Shah, M.D. (right) is featured in a NewYork-Presbyterian video on treating colon cancer. And EIPM Member Karla Ballman, Ph.D., provided expert testimony on the dangers of breast implants, which was covered by the Associated Press and other news outlets.

We have several very interesting upcoming events, please join us as your schedule allows and be sure to follow our Twitter feed (@EngIPM)for the latest news and information.

The New York Stem Cell Foundation will hold a panel discussion on Women’s Reproductive Cancers on April 3rd from 6:30—8:30pm.  The event marks the launch of the NYSCF Women’s Reproductive Cancer Initiative, which aims to drive a paradigm shift in cancer treatment and research.

  • Precision Medicine Tutorial: Wednesday, 4/17 @ 8am, Belfer 1401 We invite residents, fellows and faculty to learn how to understand genomic reports and better integrate clinicopathologic information with patient care.
  • Seminar Series: Tuesday, 4/2 @ 12:45pm, WGC – C (1305 York Ave) Celina Montemayor, MD, PhD, NIH Clinical Center, “Banking with Precision: Predicting Red Blood Cell Phenotypes from Next Generation Sequencing Data”
  • Seminar Series: Wednesday, 4/3 @12:45pm, WGC – C  (1305 York Ave) Calvin Kuo, MD, PhD, Stanford University School of Medicine, “Organoid Modeling of Stem Cells and Tumor Immunity”
  • Seminar Series: Tuesday, 4/9 @12:45pm, Belfer 302 – B, Dan Sackett, PhD, NIH “Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology of a Molecule: The Biology of Tubulin and its Loss”
  • Seminar Series: Friday, 4/12 @12:45pm, WGC – B (1305 York Ave) Kathleen Freson, PhD, University of Leuven “Finding Genes in Genomes to Match with Bleeding and Platelet Disorders”

Finally, by now many of you have heard the news that our friend and EIPM colleague, Dr. Kristy Richards (left), passed away last weekend after a long battle with cancer. Dr. Richards was a leading medical oncologist who specialized in treating lymphoma patients. We extend our most sincere condolences to her family and friends, and to all of our colleagues who had pleasure of working with her.





March 2019

Dear Colleagues,

I’m very proud of the hard work and dedication that so many of you have already demonstrated this year with your research, discoveries, collaborations and mentorships. Your efforts are generating awareness and recognition within Weill Cornell Medicine, and among your peers across the city and around the world.

Three significant papers were recently published that exemplify these efforts. EIPM Member Iman Hajirasouliha, Ph.D., (left)and Pegah Khosravi, Ph.D., from the WCM Dept. of Physiology and Biophysics, published “Breast Cancer Histopathological Image Classification: A Deep Learning Approach,” in IEEE Explore. Several WCM colleagues including Harold Varmus, M.D., Asaf Poran, Ph.D. and I published “Generation of Pulmonary Neuroendocrine Cells and SCLC-like Tumors from Human Embryonic Stem Cells,” in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. EIPM Members Juan Miguel Mosquera, M.D., Andrea Sboner, Ph.D. and WCM colleagues including Kevin Holcomb, M.D., collaborated on “Identification of a Therapeutic Target using Molecular Sequencing for Treatment of Recurrent Uterine Serous Adenocarcinoma,” in ScienceDirect. Dr. Holcomb and the patient were recently featured on ABC News.

Inspiring collaborations were on display across the city in February. Alex Sigaras and Marie Normille volunteered as mentors in the third annual NYC Health Hackathon, and EIPM’s Tomer Yaron, who studied with myself and Lew Cantley, Ph.D., and colleagues created a mobile app for early detection of stroke in real-time. Their innovation, named DESTROKE, won “Most Impactful Hack.” The team (left) included Suniyya Waraich and Ciarra King in front, and behind them from left to right Yubin Xie, Tomer Yaron, Evan Noch, and Dmitrii Meleshko.

Seven EIPM staff members visited Manhattan’s Beacon High School (right) to speak with students interested in careers in science and medicine.  Later in the month Alex Sigaras and our newest EIPM Member, Bioinformatics Analyst Princesca Dorsaint (left), represented EIPM at the 1st Biomedical Big Data Symposium.

A new RFA just opened for Rapid Response Pilot Grant Funding from the Functional Genomics Initiative. The programmatic goal is to leverage genomic and clinical data arising from the EIPM and MSK Center for Molecular Oncology.  Applications for the award of up to $25,000 are due by 5 PM on March 11th. Please contact Tarsha Bartonbartont@mskcc.org, with any questions. Past recipients of this grant include EIPM Members Bishoy Faltas, M.D., (right) and Yariv Houvras, M.D., Ph.D.

This past week, EIPM officially joined a very exciting NIH program called the Human Cancer Models Initiative, a collaboration between elite US and European governmental organizations, academic research institutions, and nonprofit organizations with the goal of creating up to 1,000 next-generation cancer models from patient tumors that are clinically and molecularly characterized. The initiative seeks to provide a resource of novel cancer models to the research community that are characterized with clinical and molecular data and to make resources including protocols used for model development, SOPs, and other model-associated support available.

Two new EIPM Members were recently profiled on our website. I encourage you to learn about the important work of Niroshana Anandasabapathy, M.D., Ph.D., (left) who studies dermatology and cancer immunology. And please be sure and introduce yourself to Visiting Assistant Professor Hye-Yeon Choi, M.D., who is exploring the potential of precision medicine to better care for stroke patients.

If you’re a fan of podcasts you may want to check out Talking Precision Medicine, which is currently interviewing experts on the application of AI and big data analytics in drug discovery. I was a recent guest on the podcast and enjoyed the experience.

EIPM Core Team Member Juan Miguel Mosquera, M.D., (right) did a great job last week participating in a panel discussion (right, seated center) about privacy and ethical issues raised by the use of human biospecimens after the screening of the powerful HBO film “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

Finally, in the spirit of mentorship, I’d like to recognize Melissa B. Davis, Ph.D., who just returned from Ghana where she’s been conducting breast cancer research, for her dedication to guiding younger colleagues. She recently observed: “Our students are our living legacies and the ‘pearls’ we impart to them will shape not only their careers, but then those of their mentees. I’m excited to see what my seeds of mentorship will manifest in ‘soon to be’ Dr. Brittany Jenkins!”




February 2019

Dear Colleagues,

The new year began with some excitement when we hosted Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation (QF), during her visit to Weill Cornell Medicine. EIPM staff demonstrated how we’re leveraging artificial intelligence and mixed reality in research to advance genomics, drug discovery, and clinical data.

I hope you’ve met the new EIPM Clinical Director Cora Sternberg, M.D., (left), a leading international researcher and expert in the field of medical oncology, genitourinary cancers, and drug development. Cora became well-known for her influential work in developing novel therapies and targeted agents for the treatment of prostate, renal and bladder cancers while working as Chief of the Department of Medical Oncology at the San Camillo-Forlanini Hospital in Rome, Italy, and as adjunct Professor of Oncology at La Sapienza University in Rome.

I believe strongly in the values of collaboration and mentoring, and would like to thank EIPM Team Members Alex Sigarasand Marie Normile who recently demonstrated these values during a visit to the new R Lab in Brooklyn where they met with fellows from Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. Starting this month and in collaboration with Macaulay Honors College and the R Lab, three fellows will start their internship at EIPM leveraging augmented and virtual reality to improve our data visualization tools and help create breakthroughs in precision medicine.

EIPM Member Iman Hajorasouliha, Ph.D., and colleagues, published “Minerva: And alignment- and reference-free approach to deconvolve Linked-Reads for metagenomics,” in the January edition of Genome Research.

EIPM Member Bishoy Faltas, M.D.,just received a $50,000 grant from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Bladder SPORE Developmental Research Program for his project, “Targeted strategies for enhancing anti-tumor immunity in immunocompetent bladder cancer mouse models.”

Don’t miss the lecture, “Personalized Medicine Approaches based on Computational Models of Gut Microbiome and Clinical Data,” by Eran Segal, Ph.D.of the Weizmann Institute at 3:30 PM on February 7, at Cornell Tech’s Tata Innovation Center, room 131. Afterwards I’ll lead a Round Table discussion with Drs. Segal and Andrew Dannenberg.

EIPM Seminar Series lectures will be held February 5thfeaturing Doris Lamb, Ph.D., (right), and on February 21st John P. Sfakianos, M.D.,from Mt. Sinai will present. More information about these lectures will be distributed soon.

It’s not too late to participate in the sixth annual NYC Health Hackathon at Weill Cornell Medicine from February 8-10th. This interdisciplinary weekend event is open to students in all majors, with the goal of seeing how far the applications of technology can be stretched to benefit health care, service, delivery, diagnostics and prevention.

Don’t miss 2019 STAT Madness! Each spring academic and research organizations submit a peer-reviewed scientific paper to a bracket-style tournament hosted by STAT News to find the best innovations in science and medicine. This year we worked with WCM’s External Affairs department to select Dr. Jonathan Zippin’spaper from Science Signaling on finding a new pathway to reduce skin cancer risk. Once the tournament opens, I’m going to encourage all of you to vote for his paper and help WCM win the championship!


January 2019

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you had a safe and enjoyable holiday season, and look forward to keeping you informed about important developments through these monthly messages.

Dr. Lisa Newman, front and center holding bag, and Dr. Davis too her immediate left.

Last month I told you how important I believe collaborations are to our work, they are the lifeblood of medical research and the magic behind every advance we make. I hope you all embrace this concept in your daily work. Collaboration can take many forms, whether it’s in conducting breast cancer research in Ghana (left), mentoring visiting Ph.D. students from Cornell Ithaca, or working on new grants. We are stronger and more successful when we work together.

Precision Medicine Areas of Concentration students have enjoyed a strong start to the new year. Kevin Michael Boehm, recently published in BMC Bioinformatics on using machine learning to better understand the immune system. And Munna Uppal will be launching a crowd-sourced research initiative to improve the Precision Medicine Knowledgebase (PMKB), a tool used by clinicians and molecular pathologists to help better inform cancer patients’ prognoses and treatment options. If you’re interested in participating, please email Munna (mdu2002@med.cornell.edu). More projects will be discussed in the upcoming PM Student Interest Group – keep an eye out for these details.

Join us at Cornell Tech on Thursday, February 7thfor the Burnell Symposium. Featured speaker Eran Segal, PhD, from the Weizmann Institute of Sciencewill discuss “Personalized Medicine Approaches based on Computational Models of Gut Microbiome and Clinical Data.” Drs. Segal, Dannenberg, and I will host a roundtable discussion followed by a reception at the Tata Innovation Center. A group will depart Belfer Research Building at 2:30pm, RSVP here if you’re interested in joining us.

We are proud of the many recent papers and grants that our EIPM Members have secured to provide both recognition and the resources needed to fuel innovation: Bishoy Faltas, M.D.and Steven Lipkin, MD, Ph.D.were awarded grants from The Starr Foundation’s 12th Starr Cancer Consortium Grant Competition; Scott Tagawa, M.D.and colleagues were awarded a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense for prostate cancer clinical trials; and Yariv Houvras, Ph.D.and Bishoy Faltas, M.D.recently received a Rapid Response Pilot Grant from the Functional Genomics Initiative (FGI).

Congratulations to Brittany Jenkins, who works in the Davis Lab, on her recent engagement following a proposal at the Belfer Lab!

Thanks to everyone for their hard work and dedication in making 2018 such a successful year for the EIPM and the patients who are counting on our breakthroughs.