About Translational Research in Leukemia

Hematologic malignancies affect at least 150,000 people per year in the USA. The Leukemia Program in WCM is known for its extensive translational research program and collaborates with several Cornell scientists considered leaders in the field, including Drs. Monica Guzman, Duane Hassane, Gail Roboz, Pinkal Desai, Joseph Scandura, and Ari Melnick. We strive to understand and correlate the underlying disease process in each of our patients through our close collaboration with research scientists. Each of our scientists has a unique research focus in leukemia, and it is through active collaboration that their work has been successful in yielding better therapeutic approaches to treating blood cancers. Translational research includes research projects concerning leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancers, thrombosis, bone marrow/stem cell transplantation and tumor immunology. Clinical trials conducted within the division are aimed at testing new therapies in patients with cancer and blood diseases, allowing our patients to receive agents that are not widely available in the community.

The Hematology and Medical Oncology Division focuses on three major categories of research: clinical trials, laboratory-based basic research, and laboratory-based translational work. A particular emphasis on translational patient-oriented research allows patients involved in clinical trials to benefit earlier from bench observations. This approach facilitates advances in precision medicine where, for example, molecular markers found in the laboratory examination of tissue predict outcomes that help determine the type of chemotherapy that should be given to an individual patient. Basic research studies within the division are aimed at understanding the molecular basis of human blood diseases and cancer. These include programs in basic cancer biology and genetics focusing on solid tumor cancers such as lung cancer, prostate cancer and kidney cancers, as well as acute and chronic leukemias, lymphomas, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloma, developmental biology (including angiogenesis, stem cell biology, and cardiac development), vascular biology (including atherosclerosis, the tumor vascular bed and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) and basic mechanisms of resistance to chemotherapy.

With a major focus on leukemia, we combine laboratory experiments and state-of-the-art genome analytics to address the critical challenges in cancer: overcoming drug resistance, preventing relapse. Dr. Duane Hassane’s laboratory research programs leverage the latest advances in genomics to improve cancer therapy by understanding and targeting cancer stem cells as well as developing detailed views of minimal residual disease. We have combined multidisciplinary and collaborative efforts integrate experimental hematology with genomics, bioinformatics, machine learning as well as interaction with clinicians to perform research with the aim of providing near-term benefits to patients. The disease focus of our lab is acute myeloid leukemia where we aim to prevent disease recurrence by understanding and targeting its cancer stem cells, avoiding secondary malignancies and ablating cancer stem cells.