Early phase clinical trials are a hallmark of our translational research program. Such trials are the first to test a new molecule or therapeutic approach in the clinic with the hope of ultimately improving upon existing cancer treatments. These pioneering protocols are “housed” in the Early Phase Trial Unit (formerly known as the Novel Therapeutics Unit) and are coordinated by a collaborative research team including  Matthew Galsky, MD ,   Thomas Marron MD, PhD , Deborah Doroshow MD, PhD , and others. Patient referrals to the Early Phase Trials Unit can be made via email to EPTU@mssm.edu

Enhancing our clinical trials enterprise is a new search tool developed by Joseph Finkelstein, MD, PhD , Chief Research Informatics Officer and Senior Associate Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and Associate Director of Cancer Information Technology for TCI. It enables identification of clinical trials by disease site/cancer type, investigator, and phase. This represents a major step forward in matching patients, especially those with advanced or refractory disease, to the most promising treatments.
With expert leadership from Dr. Galsky, Dr. Finkelstein, and Karyn Goodman, MD, MS , Associate Director of Clinical Research at TCI, we look forward to continued progress and innovation.
Three members of The Tisch Cancer Institute have been named
Ward-Coleman Chair in Cancer Research; Director, Cancer Immunotherapy Program;
Co-Leader, Cancer Immunology Program
Mount Sinai Professor in Cancer Immunology; Director, Precision Immunology Institute; Co-Leader, Cancer Immunology Program
Distinguished Service Professor, Oncological Sciences and Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology); Founder and CEO, Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation; Honorary Professor, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
The Jacobi Medallion is the highest honor bestowed by The Mount Sinai Alumni Association. It honors members of the Mount Sinai community who have made exceptional contributions to the fields of clinical medicine or biomedical research or have exemplified extraordinary dedication to the alumni association.
The award ceremony will take place on March 12, 2020 at The Plaza Hotel.
Questions? Contact Melanie Barton Wunch , 646-605-8805
Honors at 2019 Annual Meeting of American Society of Hematology 
Melanie Castro-Mollo, MD , master’s degree student in the laboratory of Yelena Z. Ginzburg, MD , presented Erythroferrone regulated bone remodeling in β-thalassemia at the Plenary Scientific Session, which features the highest-caliber abstracts. Hrishi Srinagesh , 4 th year MD/MSCR student in the laboratory of J ames Ferrara, MD , received an Outstanding Abstract Achievement Award ; he had the highest scoring abstract in the medical student category.

Pictured, left to right: Dr. Ginzburg, Dr. Castro-Mollo, Dr. Ferrara, Mr. Srinagesh, John Levine, MD
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Nathaniel Wisch, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology) and Pediatrics, received the 2019 University of Rochester Distinguished Alumnus Award. The award recognizes graduates of the School of Arts and Sciences for contributions to and exceptional achievements in their professional field. In 2012, Dr. Wisch and his wife created the Nathanial and Helen Wisch Professorship in Biology at the University of Rochester to support scholars who advance the field of biology and inspire students.
Genomic and transcriptomic analysis of mammographic density
Weiva Sieh, MD, PhD (TCI Cancer Prevention and Control) and Pei Wang, PhD (TCI Cancer Clinical Investigation) received R01 grant funding for “Genomic and transcriptomic analysis of mammographic density.” In collaboration with Laurel Habel, PhD , at the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Dr. Sieh and Dr. Wang aim to discover new genes and gene co-expression networks underlying variation in breast tissue characteristics and determine their associations with breast cancer risk. The study will combine functional data from gene expression and co-expression networks with genome-wide association study data using new approaches to discover density genes with greater power. Results are expected to shed light on the biological mechanisms underlying the association of breast density with cancer risk, and may lead to improved preventive therapies. Other Mount Sinai investigators on the grant include Xiaoyu Song, DrPH (TCI Biostatistics), Robert Klein, PhD (TCI Cancer Prevention and Control), and Joseph Rothstein, MS .
Support for Prostate Cancer
The Milton and Carroll Petrie Department of Urology received a $1 million grant from The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in support of the prostate cancer program at Mount Sinai. Founded by Ash Tewari, MD , Professor and System Chair of Urology, the program is actively advancing immunotherapy personalized vaccine strategies to treat prostate cancer. This recent grant follows a previous gift of $500,000.
Radiographic features of lung nodules on computed tomography (CT) images affect their size measurement
Artit Jirapatnakul, PhD , Assistant Professor in the Department of Radiology, has received a two-year grant award from the Prevent Cancer Foundation in support of his work to better understand how radiographic features of lung nodules on computed tomography (CT) images affect their size measurement. A key challenge for lung cancer screening is how to determine the follow-up for lung nodules identified through screening in order to limit unnecessary procedures while reducing delays in diagnosis. Dr. Jirapatnakul plans to develop software to assess a CT-detected nodule’s appearance and use the appearance characteristics to predict the uncertainty in size measurement. This would allow for personalized follow-up recommendations and enable earlier, more accurate diagnosis.
New York Genome Center call for applications
The Genome Center Cancer Group (GCCG) at the New York Genome Center (NYGC) recently launched Polyethnic-1000 (P-1000) to study the genomic landscapes of cancer in the ethnically diverse New York City population. GCCG and P-1000 are soliciting applications for research on how inherited and somatically acquired genetic variations affect the behavior of cancers in ethnically diverse populations.
Letter of Intent Due Date: January 31.
  • Melanoma Research Award
  • Young Investigator Translational Immuno-Oncology Team Science Award

Application Due Date: March 2
Department of Defense Medical Research Programs
Discovery of a first-in-class EZH2 selective degrader

The protein EZH2 is overexpressed in many types of cancer including triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), and high expression levels correlate with poor prognosis. While EZH2 inhibitors, which inhibit the catalytic activity of EZH2 but do not reduce EZH2 protein levels, have shown promise in treating sarcoma and follicular lymphoma, they are ineffective at blocking proliferation of TNBC cells. The researchers discovered a first-in-class EZH2 selective small-molecule degrader—MS1943— that effectively reduces EZH2 protein levels in cells and has a profound cytotoxic effect in multiple TNBC cells in vitro and in vivo, while sparing normal cells. Findings suggest that EZH2 selective degraders such as MS1943 may provide an emerging therapeutic approach for the treatment of TNBC and other cancers that are dependent on EZH2.

Mutation-derived neoantigen-specific T-cell responses in Multiple Myeloma

This study is the first to experimentally validate the immunogenicity of predicted neoantigens from next generation sequencing in relapsed multiple myeloma. The researchers demonstrated an increase in neoantigen load in relapsed myeloma patients versus newly diagnosed myeloma patients, and identified shared neoantigens across multiple patients in three multiple myeloma oncogenic driver genes. They also validated neoantigen T cell response and clonal expansion in correlation with clinical response in relapsed multiple myeloma patients. Results provide the foundation for using neoantigen targeting strategies such as peptide vaccines in future clinical trials for multiple myeloma.
Why not add some SPARKL to your life (and death)!?

The researchers report on a versatile method for single-cell and population-level analyses using real-time kinetic labeling (SPARKL). The simple, yet powerful method for quickly measuring cell death responses during an assay characterizes cell-to-cell variability in response to perturbagens . This technique both allows for the rapid discovery of diverse biological responses and can be integrated into drug discovery pipelines.
A phase I study of panobinostat and ruxolitinib in patients with primary myelofibrosis (PMF) and post-polycythemia vera/essential thrombocythemia myelofibrosis (post-PV/ET MF)

Researchers report the results of a dose escalation, phase I trial of ruxolitinib and panobinostat in patients with primary myelofibrosis (MF) and post-polycythemia vera/essential thromobocythemia MF. This trial was one of the first attempts at rational combination therapy in MF. The results confirm the feasibility of combining a novel agent with ruxolitinib supported by laboratory studies. 
Tumour evolution in hepatocellular carcinoma

The authors review molecular heterogeneity in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that stimulate evolution, and how HCC evolution drives resistance to systemic therapies. They report on new minimally invasive techniques such as liquid biopsies that could facilitate real-time monitoring of patients with HCC, and how to leverage this information to improve clinical management.
Progress with CAR T-cell Therapy

The Cellular Therapy Service at TCI, under the direction of Keren Osman, MD , is a leader in advancing CAR T-cell therapy for patients with advanced cancers and other conditions. At the 2019 annual ASH meeting, Deepu Madduri, MD , reported on CARTITUDE-1 , a phase 1b/2 study which evaluated the response rate of a CAR T-cell therapy directed against B-cell maturation antigen in patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma who have exhausted other treatment options. A 100 percent overall response rate was achieved. Dr. Madduri summarizes the findings in this video .
Chief of Surgical Oncology
Benjamin J. Golas, MD , has been appointed Chief of Surgical Oncology for the Mount Sinai Health System. In this role, he will coordinate the surgical oncology program at all eight hospitals in the Health System with a focus on advanced surgical oncology treatments. The program will be anchored at Mount Sinai West. Associate Professor of Surgery at Mount Sinai since 2016, Dr. Golas pioneered the surgical oncology robotics program and was instrumental in expanding the hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion (HIPEC) program.
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery and Oncological Sciences
Dolores Hambardzumyan, PhD, MBA , has joined Mount Sinai as Associate Professor in the Departments of Neurosurgery and Oncological Sciences. Her research is focused on developing novel therapeutic pathways for the treatment of glioblastoma and examining the relationship between cancer cells and immune cells within the tumor. Dr. Hambardzumyan received a PhD in Biochemistry from the Buniatian Institute of Biochemistry at the National Academy of Sciences, Republic of Armenia, and an MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. She did postgraduate fellowships in cancer biology and radiation oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and in neuronal plasticity and transplantation at the French National Institute of Health and Research.
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
Bridget Marcellino, MD, PhD, has joined the Mount Sinai faculty as an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology. She is also Director of the Hematological Malignancies Tissue Bank for The Tisch Cancer Institute; as such she oversees regulatory and operations aspects of the tissue bank. Dr. Marcellino conducts research on leukemia and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and treats patients with leukemia and other hematological malignancies. Dr. Marcellino completed fellowship training in Hematology and Oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS). She earned her PhD in Neuroscience and MD at ISMMS, where she also completed an Internal Medicine residency on the research track. Dr. Marcellino has been investigating the role of the TP53 pathway in the progression of MPN in the laboratory of Ronald Hoffman, MD, since 2017. She is a 2019 recipient of the ASH Research Training Award for Fellows .
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
Alan Shih, MD, PhD, has joined Mount Sinai as an Assistant Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology. His clinical focus is on hematological malignancies with an emphasis on GI leukemia, and his research focus is on epigenetics in leukemia. Dr. Shih completed his residency in Internal Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and fellowship in Medical Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He earned his MD from Weill Cornell Medicine and his PhD in Cell Biology and Genetics from Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. Dr. Shih received an ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation Young Investigator Award in 2013 and a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Special Fellow award in 2014. He was most recently on the faculty at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he was a member of The Ross Levine Lab .
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Ashley T. Tsang, MD , joined Mount Sinai in October as an Assistant Professor of Surgery. She specializes in the treatment of benign and malignant diseases of the breast, and high risk and/or genetic susceptibility to breast cancer, and sees patients at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s. Dr. Tsang completed fellowship training at Stanford School of Medicine where she gained expertise in oncoplastic breast conserving surgery and nipple-sparing mastectomy. She completed residency in general surgery at Mount Sinai St. Luke’s and at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she earned her MD. During residency, Dr. Tsang spent two years as a postdoctoral surgical investigator at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, conducting research on gene-targeted therapeutics and drug delivery systems. 
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Michael Zeidman, MD , has joined Mount Sinai as an Assistant Professor of Surgery. A board certified breast surgeon at Mount Sinai Brooklyn, Dr. Zeidman sees patients with both benign and malignant breast conditions. He completed his fellowship training in surgical breast oncology at The Mount Sinai Hospital/Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, during which time he presented his research in neoadjuvant chemotherapy at national meetings. He completed his residency in general surgery at Montefiore Medical Center. Dr. Zeidman received his MD from Northeast Ohio Medical University with Alpha Omega Alpha honors distinction. He serves on the Fellows and Young Attendings Subcommittee of the Society of Surgical Oncology and the Fellowship Committee Working Group of the American Society of Breast Surgeons.
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.
Mount Sinai’s BroadcastMed Channel provides a platform for sharing TCI’s advancements in cancer care with physician colleagues. If you have video content (e.g., Grand Rounds presentations) to add to the channel, please contact Janet Aronson .
One-Day Course on Transplant and Therapeutic Pathology
Frontiers in Academic Pathology: Transplant and Therapeutic Pathology
Friday, January 31, 2020, New York Academy of Medicine
Course Director: Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD, PhD

No registration fee for Mount Sinai faculty and trainees

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.