August 2023

Cancer Ranking

The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked

No. 12 in the nation for Cancer

by U.S. News & World Report®

for 2023-24.

This significant increase from last year's ranking of No. 28 reflects the committed efforts of many.

Featured Publication

Yizhou Dong, PhD, and colleagues

Close the cancer–immunity cycle by integrating lipid nanoparticle–mRNA formulations and dendritic cell therapy

Nature Nanotechnology. 2023 Jul 27. PMID: 37500773

To overcome the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment—a challenge to effective immunotherapy—Dr. Dong and team combined lipid nanoparticle–mRNA formulations and dendritic cell therapy (named CATCH) to boost the cancer–immunity cycle. Using mouse models of melanoma, they showed that the approach eradicated tumors and prevented recurrence. Their findings support closing the cancer–immunity cycle through integration of lipid nanoparticle–mRNA formulations and dendritic cell therapy as a promising strategy for cancer immunotherapy.


Press Release

New Faculty Joining in August

Melanie W. Kier, MD, MBA, is joining Mount Sinai as Assistant Professor of Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology) with a focus on breast and gynecologic oncology. She will see patients at Mount Sinai West. Dr. Kier completed fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and residency in Internal Medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her MD from the Perelman School of Medicine and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School, both at the University of Pennsylvania. At Mount Sinai, Dr. Kier developed a Phase I investigator initiated trial in ovarian and endometrial cancer and has led multiple outcomes based research projects for early-stage breast cancer. She has also been involved in initiatives to improve care delivery to oncology patients. 

Teja Ganta, MD, is joining Mount Sinai as Assistant Professor of Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology) with a focus on genitourinary cancers. He will see patients at The Mount Sinai Hospital. Dr. Ganta will also serve as Assistant Director for Cancer Clinical and Research Informatics; in this role he will foster cancer-focused projects that utilize clinical and research databases to optimize clinical practice and clinical research. Dr. Ganta completed fellowships in Hematology and Medical Oncology and Clinical Informatics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and residency in Internal Medicine at Boston University School of Medicine. He earned his MD from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and a graduate certificate in Health and Clinical Informatics from Oregon Health and Sciences University. Dr. Ganta is the recipient of a 2021 Conquer Cancer Merit Award from the ASCO Foundation. He was selected for the August 2023 Prostate Cancer Foundation Thought Leaders for the Future program.

New Researcher

Jesminara Khatun, PhD, has joined the Chipuk Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow. She is investigating the impact of mitochondrial stress signaling in the context of cancer mechanisms, particularly in melanomagenesis. Using various biochemical and genetic approaches, she is dissecting the function of major oncogenic players of melanoma. Most recently, Dr. Khatun was a postdoctoral research fellow in cancer pharmacology at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. She received her PhD in Biochemistry from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India.

Faculty News

Christian Rolfo, MD, PhD, has joined the Scientific Advisory Board of Imagene, a precision oncology diagnosis company leveraging AI to profile a broad range of cancer biomarkers from the biopsy image alone.

Press Release

Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, PhD, has joined the Medical & Scientific Advisory Council of the Male Breast Cancer Global Alliance. The organization brings men with breast cancer together with researchers and clinicians to advance research and treatments, including clinical trials.

Grant Awards

Andrew Ji, MD, received a Clinical Investigator Award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation for "Dissecting Spatial Crosstalk in Squamous Cell Carcinoma Arising in Organ Transplant Recipients." Dr. Ji will explore strategies to block the spread of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, which is especially aggressive in organ transplant recipients. 

Press Release

Jerry Edward Chipuk, PhD, received a 2023 Translational Award from the V Foundation for “Elucidating the Role of BAX as a Novel Druggable Driver of Venetoclax Resistance in AML.” This multi-PI initiative, led by Marina Konopleva MD, PhD, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, focuses on using new pharmacological agents to promote chemotherapeutic responses in drug-resistant acute myeloid leukemia.

Sacha Gnjatic, PhD, and Seunghee Kim-Schulze, PhD, both with Oncological Sciences and the Human Immune Monitoring Center, received renewal of a U24 CIMAC award as part of the CIMAC-CIDC Network. Established via the Cancer Moonshot Project, the CIMAC-CIDC Network, comprising the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Stanford University, works collaboratively with clinical trial investigators to design and conduct correlative studies of cancer immunotherapy.

Dr. Gnjatic

Dr. Kim-Schulze

TCI’s Community Scientist Program, led by Melissa Mazor, PhD, MS, RN, received a grant from Pfizer and The Stanford Medicine Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab (AIM Lab) for Engaging the Patient Community in Research and Publications. This grant award will fund educational opportunities for TCI’s Community Scientists, including participation in a researcher mentoring program at the Stanford AIM Lab. It will also enable compensation for the Community Scientists, whose involvement helps ensure diversity and equity in cancer research and collaboration between TCI researchers and the community.

Shared Resources: Biostatistics

The Biostatistics & Clinical Informatics Shared Resource (BCISR), directed by Madhu Mazumdar, PhD, has added three team members to expand its services in statistical methodologies and data analysis.

  • Bart S. Ferket, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Population Health Science and Policy, has been appointed Co-Director for Clinical Informatics. Dr. Ferket is a clinical epidemiologist and expert in decision modeling for evaluation of health and economic outcomes.


  • Marcio A. Diniz, PhD, Associate Professor of Population Health Science and Policy, has been appointed Co-Director for Biostatistics. A biostatistician, Dr. Diniz is an expert in pre-clinical experimental design and Bayesian adaptive designs for Phase I and II trials.


  • Seungjun Ahn, PhD, Assistant Professor of Population Health Science and Policy, is a biostatistician with expertise in network analysis for RNA-Seq and microbiome data.


For further information about BCISR, contact Dr. Mazumdar or Jerry Edward Chipuk, PhD, Associate Director of Basic Science Shared Resources at TCI.  


Deborah Doroshow, MD, PhD; Matthew Galsky, MD; and colleagues


Phase II trial of olaparib in patients with metastatic urothelial cancer harboring DNA damage response gene alterations

JCO Precision Oncology. 2023 Jul 7. PMID: 37410974

This study evaluated the antitumor activity of olaparib, a PARP inhibitor, in patients with metastatic urothelial cancer (mUC) harboring DNA damage response (DDR) genes whose cancer had progressed despite previous platinum-based chemotherapy. Of the 19 patients enrolled, none achieved a partial response although six patients achieved stable disease with a median duration of 7.69 months. The limited anti-tumor effect of olaparib may be related to poorly characterized functional implications of particular DDR alterations and/or cross-resistance with platinum-based chemotherapy, which is the standard first-line treatment for mUC.

John Mascarenhas, MD; Ronald Hoffman, MD; and colleagues

A Phase 1b trial of AVID200, a TGFβ 1/3 trap, in patients with myelofibrosis

Clinical Cancer Research. 2023 Jul 13. PMID: 37439808


Data from a phase 1b trial of AVID200, a transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) trap, for patients with advanced myelofibrosis (MF) indicate that AVID200 treatment promotes megakaryocyte maturation and platelet production by interrupting the effects of TGFβ1, a pivotal mediator of MF disease activity. AVID200 monotherapy resulted in improvements in spleen size, symptom benefit, and platelet counts, and had limited toxicity. The improvement in platelet counts following AVID200 treatment provides a distinct advantage as currently-approved therapeutic approaches and those undergoing clinical development are associated with treatment-related thrombocytopenia. Dr. Mascarenhas and colleagues propose that future trials of AVID200 include patients at an earlier disease stage in order to determine if AVID200 can prevent the progression of bone marrow fibrosis.

Anirudh Sattiraju, PhD; Alexander Tsankov, PhD; Dolores Hambardzumyan, PhD, MBA; Roland Friedel PhD; Hongyan Zou, MD, PhD; and colleagues

Hypoxic niches attract and sequester tumor-associated macrophages and cytotoxic T cells and reprogram them for immunosuppression

Immunity. 2023 Jul 7. PMID: 37451265

The primary brain tumor glioblastoma (GBM) is notorious for immunosuppression, but the mechanisms remain unclear. Drs. Sattiraju, Tsankov, Hambardzumyan, Friedel, and Zou and team report that hypoxic zones in GBM attract and sequester tumor-associated myeloid cells (TAMs) and cytotoxic T lymphocytes, where they are reprogrammed into an immunosuppressive state. Mechanistically, results point to chemokine CCL8 and cytokine IL-1β as hypoxic niche factors critical for TAM trafficking and co-evolution of hypoxic zones into pseudopalisading patterns. Therefore, perturbation of TAM patterning in hypoxic zones may be a viable strategy to improve tumor control of GBM. 

Mark Aleynick, PhD; Judit Svensson-Arvelund, PhD; Miriam Merad, MD, PhD; Brian Brown, PhD; Joshua Brody, MD; and colleagues


Pattern recognition receptor agonists in pathogen vaccines mediate antitumor T-cell cross-priming

Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer. 2023 Jul. PMID: 37487664

Dr. Brody and team report on the most extensive immune profiling of pathogen vaccines' impact on dendritic cells performed to date and evidence in multiple murine and human systems to support repurposing these as immunotherapeutic adjuvants. Their work shows that injecting vaccines directly into tumors induces systemic anti-tumor immunity. It provides a rationale for the translation of pathogen vaccines as FDA-approved clinical-grade dendritic cell activators which could be exploited as immune-stimulants for early phase trials.

Presentations and Events

Icahn Genomics Institute Seminar Series

Thursday, September 7, 11 am

Hess Seminar Room A

Darrell Irvine, PhD

Associate Director, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Engineering Immunity in Infectious Disease and Cancer”

TCI Community Outreach and Engagement Retreat

September 29, 10 am - 1:30 pm

Annenberg Building, 5-205 (also via Zoom)

More Information


Cardinale Smith, MD, PhD, is chairing the ASCO Quality Care Symposium, October 27-28. The meeting—in person in Boston and online—addresses quality, safety, and efficiency of cancer care. Registration

John Mascarenhas, MD, is co-chairing The Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium, November 8-10 in New York City. Use “Mascarenhas” for free registration


Do you have news for the next issue of TCI Connections

Please send to Janet Aronson (646-745-6376).

Remember to share breaking news and high impact news that might be appropriate for media coverage with Marlene Naanes (929-237-5802) in the Press Office. This may include pending FDA drug/device approvals, studies/trial results being published in high-impact journals, and patient stories. The more lead time you can give Marlene, the better—ideally, four weeks or when a paper is accepted by the journal. Embargoes will always be honored and news will only be released with your approval.

  TCI Connections  is a monthly publication of The Tisch Cancer Institute
Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, Director
Janet Aronson , Editor
Past issues of  TCI Connections  are available on the TCI website