February 2020
The National Cancer Institute conducted a site visit on January 30 as part of the competitive renewal process for TCI’s Cancer Center Support Grant .
The review team, chaired by Dr. Roy Jensen , Director, The University of Kansas Cancer Center, included 15 peer reviewers from cancer programs across the country.
TCI senior leadership made 14 presentations on progress during the past five years of the current grant cycle and future directions to the reviewers. The presentations covered TCI’s research programs, clinical trials platform, and challenges facing the communities we serve.
In addition, a poster session featured TCI’s shared resources and cores in development :
Five shared resources
  • Biostatistics
  • Mouse Genetics
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Microscopy
  • Human Immune Monitoring Center
Three cores in development
  • Biorepository and Pathology
  • Bioinformatics for Next Generation Sequencing
  • Biomedical Data Science and Informatics Service
Renewal of our Cancer Center Support Grant ensures funding for cancer research infrastructure and access to supplementary grant awards. Additionally, designation as a NCI-designated cancer center enhances our national reputation and US News ranking in Cancer.
We expect to receive a score from the NCI based on the site visit in mid-March with the opportunity to address any questions posed by the reviewers, and a final decision in May.
President Elect II for Society of Gynecologic Oncology
Stephanie Blank, MD, Professor of Gynecologic Oncology and Director, Division of Gynecologic Oncology for the Mount Sinai Health System, was elected as President Elect II for the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. Her term as president will begin in 2022. Dr. Blank has served as Secretary-Treasurer for the past four years.
R01 Award - Multiple Myeloma and Genomics
Samir Parekh, MBBS , has been awarded R01 funding from the NCI to support his personalized medicine approach for multiple myeloma using genomics. Dr. Parekh’s research project—“Development of a multi-omic clinical decision platform to guide personalized therapy”— focuses on creating discovery pipelines that combine high-throughput profiling technologies with advanced statistical and machine learning approaches to develop a clinic-ready assay and computational tool that will guide multiple myeloma precision treatment decisions and inform new therapeutic strategies based on a patient’s unique cancer profile.
R01 Award - BCL-2 family
Jerry Chipuk, PhD , has been awarded R01 funding from the NCI for “Function and regulation of the BCL-2 family.” The mitochondrial pathway of apoptosis —the most common form of programmed cell death in biology and disease—proceeds when the BCL-2 family of proteins collaborates to compromise the outer mitochondria membrane. A mechanistic understanding of the BCL-2 family function will advance our knowledge of the pathways that cause cancer. Dr. Chipuk’s research will focus on building a foundation of mechanistic insights and using the information to develop novel therapeutic strategies against cancer.
Medical Student Grant Award
Umair Khan, B.S., in Dr. Jerry Chipuk’s lab has received a medical student grant award from the Melanoma Research Foundation for “The mitochondrial unfolded protein response predicts the immune landscape during melanogenesis.” The study aims to elucidate how the expression of the main transcription factors of the stress signaling pathway known as the mitochondrial unfolded protein response correlates with changes in the immune environment during melanomagenesis. Anticipated data has the potential to reveal insights into predicting the immune environment in melanoma and improving prognosis and selection of immunotherapy.
Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation - continued research support
Amaia Lujambio, PhD , has received continuation support from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, based on significant progress on her research during the first two years of the award, as published in Cancer Discovery . Dr. Lujambio is investigating genes that are involved in intrinsic and acquired resistance to two immune checkpoint inhibitors—nivolumab and pembrolizumab— for hepatocellular carcinoma. Findings may lead to the design of effective combination therapies.
Intratumoral heterogeneity and clonal evolution in liver cancer

This study sheds light on the underlying molecular features of intratumoral heterogeneity (ITH) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) including the unexpectedly large scale of regulatory heterogeneity of HCC cells. The researchers detected different clonal expansion of the adaptive immune system in distant regions of the same tumor. An ITH-based gene signature improves single-biopsy patient survival predictions. Data indicate how different components of the HCC ecosystem interact during cancer evolution and provide insight into new directions for treatment biomarker discovery.
BRCA mutation association with recurrence score and discordance
in a large oncotype database

The researchers developed a large Oncotype DX recurrence score database to determine if BRCA mutation status is associated with discordance (difference between recurrence score and tumor grade in breast cancer patients). They found that breast cancer patients with deleterious BRCA mutations demonstrate no difference in rate of discordance as compared to BRCA-negative patients. They also found that patients with BRCA-positive tumors display higher recurrence score than patients with BRCA-negative tumors. They recommend that discordance, tumor grade, and tumor size be considered in treatment plans of breast cancer patients regardless of mutation status.
Multiplexed immunohistochemical consecutive staining on single slide (MICSSS): multiplexed chromogenic IHC assay for high-dimensional
tissue analysis

This book chapter describes a multiplex immunostaining system developed by Mount Sinai’s Human Immune Monitoring Center called “multiplexed immunohistochemical consecutive staining on the same slide (MICSSS).” It is as simple and cost-effective as singleplex immunohistochemistry (IHC) but robust and powerful at the same time for characterizing up to ten markers on the same tissue section. The procedure can be used by any lab with standard IHC capabilities.
Tumoral and immune heterogeneity in an anti-PD-1 responsive glioblastoma: a case study

This paper provides a detailed, comprehensive, multi-regional tumor profiling of a typical glioblastoma (GBM) that successfully responded to immune checkpoint blockade. Despite a poor prognosis, the patient’s overall survival was approximately double the expected survival. The researchers show key differences between the recurrent sectors that could have affected treatment outcomes and highlight the need for further studies that can provide a broader survey of intratumoral heterogeneity across anti-PD-1 responsive GBMs. Proposed studies may inform how to take advantage of tumor heterogeneity at the immunologic level in order to tailor treatment effectively.
Director of Science Communications
Swagata Basu, PhD, joined The Tisch Cancer Institute in December as Director of Science Communications. In this role, Dr. Basu will assist with the development of multi-project grants, coordinate scientific retreats, and evaluate research opportunities for TCI members. Dr. Basu earned a PhD in Cognition and Neuroscience from The University of Texas at Dallas and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the NIH. In her previous positions at Inscopix and DRVision Technologies , she developed scientific communications for product marketing and led federal grant applications.
The voting period for U.S. News & World Report 2020-2021 Best Hospitals rankings is open until March 20 . Those of you who are registered on Doximity and eligible to vote have the opportunity to help identify hospitals that provide the highest quality of care for the sickest patients in Cancer. Your nominations, along with quality indicators such as outcomes, factor into the rankings that many patients consider when deciding where to seek care. Please remember to vote and name The Mount Sinai Hospital as a top hospital for the most challenging cancer patients.

The Tisch Cancer Institute Summer Research Scholars Program
TCI medical student research fellowships, administered through TCI’s  Cancer Research Career Enhancement and Related Activities Core , provide stipends for rising second-year medical students at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who have not had extensive research experience to conduct original cancer research—clinical, translational, basic, epidemiological, or health services related—under the mentorship of a faculty member.  Applications for summer 2020 are being accepted through March 16.  Click here for detailed information.

Pictured: 2019 TCI Scholars and Mentors
Cancer Biology Retreat
The Cancer Biology Retreat, hosted by The Department of Oncological Sciences, will take place on March 18 from 8:30 am to 5 pm.
Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The retreat will include postdoctoral and student presentations, poster session, and a keynote address. Deadline to register and submit abstracts is March 1.
Women's Cancers Information Sessions
The Blavatnik Family – Chelsea Medical Center at Mount Sinai is hosting information sessions about women’s cancers. The sessions on March 9 are geared to the public and the session on March 16 is for primary care and referring physicians. Please view invitations below.

The Tisch Cancer Institute Frontiers In Oncology
Arlene Sharpe, MD, PhD , Chair, Department of Immunology at Harvard Medical School, will present "Biology Behind the PD-1 Pathway" on March 10 at
12 noon in the Davis Auditorium.

Dr. Sharpe’s laboratory has discovered and elucidated functions of T cell costimulatory pathways, including the immunoinhibitory functions of the CTLA-4 and PD-1 pathways, which are targets for cancer immunotherapy. Her laboratory currently investigates roles of T cell costimulatory pathways in cancer, autoimmunity, and infection.

Colorectal Cancer Health Fair
Wednesday, March 11
9:30 am to 2:30 pm
Guggenheim Pavilion at The Mount Sinai Hospital

New York Cancer Genomics Research Network
Javier Bravo-Cordero, PhD , with the Microscopy CoRE and Advanced Bioimaging Center , presented on the biology of disseminated tumor cells at the New York Cancer Genomics Research Network meeting on February 4. Dr. Bravo- Cordero researches therapies that could potentially eliminate disseminated cancer cells by targeting their extracellular matrix microenvironment.
The New York Genome Center furthers genomic research that leads to scientific advances and new insights and therapies for patients with neurodegenerative disease, neuropsychiatric disease, and cancer. It hosts meetings on the first Tuesday of every month.
Hospitals Come Together to Discuss Clinical Trials for Lung Cancer
Fred Hirsch, MD, PhD , was the keynote speaker at the first meeting of a consortium of hospitals to discuss clinical trials for lung cancer that took place on February 6.

Participating institutions: Mount Sinai, NYU, Cornell, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Montefiore, Columbia
Cancer Immunotherapy Winter School
Sacha Gnjatic, PhD , was on the faculty of the 2020 Cancer Immunotherapy Winter School , conducted by the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer . He presented on T- and B-cell receptor sequencing as a biomarker for cancer.
ASCO's 2020 Genitourinary Cancers Symposium
TCI Faculty had 16 poster presentations

Pictured: Bobby Liaw, MD
Visit the Health System Calendar for a list of TCI seminars.
Do you have news for the next issue of    TCI Connections  

Please send to  Janet Aronson and Rhaisili Rosario

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
Co-editors: Janet Aronson and Rhaisili Rosario
Past issues of    TCI Connections    are available on the TCI website.