January 2021
Shared Resources: Enhance Research Design and Analysis
TCI’s Biostatistics Shared Resource Facility (BSRF) provides critical services that enhance the integrity of design and analysis of cancer research studies via biostatisticians with expertise in diverse types of cancer and statistical methodologies. 

Early involvement of the BSRF enables optimal design to address pertinent hypotheses and analysis of research studies—this includes assessment of feasibility of planned analysis, implementation of programming to perform analysis of study data, proper interpretation of analytic results, and development of novel design and analytic methods, as needed.

These services, under the leadership of Madhu Mazumdar, PhD, can enhance the likelihood of successful grant awards.

While services related to protocol and grant development are available at no charge to TCI researchers, it is expected that grant budgets will include adequate FTE support for the biostatistician. The level of support—to be determined through discussion between the researcher and the biostatistician—should be aligned with the scope of the work and account for any methodological development, data management and statistical programming that may be needed for the duration of the project.

Researchers are reminded to honor a four-week lead time for grant development. The first step in the process is to submit a request for services via the service request form. A biostatistician will contact the researcher within five business days to arrange a meeting. Four weeks are typically required for development of statistical plans and other needed work. The more lead time, the better.

If you have any questions, contact Erin Moshier, TCI-BSRF Managing Director, at [email protected].
Bioinformatics for Next Generation Sequencing (BiNGS) is a new shared resource that is available to TCI-affiliated faculty. The goal of BiNGS—a TCI core-in-development—is to serve the TCI community at the interface between wet-lab science and bioinformatics to maximize the value and impact of cancer biology research. Ernesto Guccione, PhD, and Dan Hasson, PhD, are co-directors.
Grant Awards
Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, PhD, has received a $1.9 million grant award from the National Cancer Institute to investigate the mechanisms that promote awakening and subsequent metastasis of disseminated dormant tumor cells. Dr. Bravo-Cordero and his team aim to understand the role of collagen III in the construction of dormancy-supportive extracellular matrix (ECM) niches, leading to strategies that prevent the awakening of the disseminated cells or that enable killing of the cells by targeting the ECM microenvironment.

Arvin Dar, PhD, has received an ASPIRE Award (Accelerating Scientific Platforms and Innovative Research) from the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research for “New Molecular Glues to Target the RAS Pathway in Cancer.” Building upon previous studies of the molecular structure and function of MEK, a member of the Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathway, Dr. Dar and his group are further evaluating the properties of trametiglue (a tool compound created by his laboratory which has enhanced interfacial binding properties and shows promise in overcoming drug resistance) and its analogs to develop them as potential leads for new therapeutics.
Sacha Gnjatic, PhD, was awarded a contract with the National Cancer Institute to analyze samples from patients with active cancer who become infected with SARS-CoV-2, as part of the NCI COVID-19 in Cancer Patient Study (NCCAPS). Adeeb Rahman, PhD, and Seunghee Kim-Schulze, PhD, are co-investigators on the project, “CyTOF and O-link Assessment of Immune Response to COVID-19 in Cancer Patients.”
New Cancer Center of Excellence
The Center of Excellence for Thoracic Oncology, Fred Hirsch, MD, PhD, Director, is the newest cancer center of excellence.
Clinical Care Updates
The Center of Excellence for Breast Cancer, Elisa Port, MD, Director, provides extensive services—including surgical care—at multiple locations throughout the Mount Sinai Health System. The center’s breast surgeons work in partnership with a multidisciplinary team to offer the most advanced treatment options, and they collaborate with patients and referring physicians to determine the best personalized approach for each patient.

Success of Mobile Mammography Program

The Mount Sinai Mobile Mammography Program reached a milestone in January 2021: 3,000 women received screening mammograms since the program’s inception despite the program’s long hiatus during 2020 due to COVID-19. Since 2018, mobile screening mammograms have led to the diagnosis of twenty breast cancers. The cancer detection rate for those screened on the mobile unit is considerably higher than at the Health System’s fixed sites, supporting the benefit of bringing mammography to underserved communities in all five boroughs. Laurie Margolies, MD, is the director of the Mobile Mammography Program. Jean Stenard is Program Manager.
Education Recognition
Jonathan Feld, MD, was selected as “Fellow of the Month” for January. Dr. Feld is a third-year fellow in Hematology and Medical Oncology. Citing Dr. Feld’s service to his peers, his nominator noted his compassion for his co-fellows and the excellent care he provides to patients. Dr. Feld received his MD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and completed residency training in Internal Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Cancer Discovery. 2020 Dec 17. PMID: 33334730

Joshua Brody, MD, and colleagues discovered that cancer immunotherapies that make use of immune system cells such as T cells and CAR-T cells kill not only tumor cells that express the drugs’ target, but also adjacent tumor cells that lack the targets, because of the presence of the protein fas. This process, known as bystander killing, can be made more effective by adding therapeutics that turn off the regulation of fas proteins and can be potentiated to prevent cancer relapse.

Cell. 2020 Dec 10. PMID: 33259803

The researchers investigated fs-mutations in the tumor genomes of microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) patients with colorectal, stomach, and endometrial carcinomas. They uncovered widespread occurrence and strong immunogenicity of tumor-specific antigens derived from shared frameshift mutations in MSI-H carcinomas and Lynch syndrome patients. Findings revealed the possibility of designing common “off-the-shelf” cancer vaccines in specific tumor subtypes with broad MHC-I specificity, with the potential to achieve immunological responses against existing neoplasms or develop preventive memory T cell responses in high-risk patient populations.

European Urology Oncology. 2020 Dec 29. PMID: 33386276

This review summarizes the current genetic understanding of bladder urothelial upper urinary tract carcinomas and outlines distinct genomic features that shed light onto novel pathways for therapeutic targeting. 

Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2020 Dec 18. PMID: 33338306

This paper reports on a multicenter, retrospective study including 13 institutions designed to characterize the impact of COVID-19 on a large cohort of pediatric cancer patients. Findings indicate that while pediatric oncology patients on active therapy appear to have higher risk of severe disease and need for critical care support as compared to healthy children, this risk may be lower than initially perceived and is far lower than observed in their adult oncology counterparts. Hence the authors advocate that delivering ongoing cancer therapy remains an important priority, with delays or modifications being considered only in select cases.

Cancer Cell. 2020 Dec 14. PMID: 33321083

In this publication Dr. Bravo-Cordero and colleagues discuss imaging approaches that can be used in various aspects of cancer research, from investigating the complexity and diversity of cancer cells and their environments to guiding clinical decision-making. Dr. Bravo-Cordero addresses the use of intravital microscopy (IVM) to image living animals that has contributed to understanding the dynamic behavior of cancer cells in real time. 

The Breast Journal. 2021 Jan 3. PMID: 33393166

Dr. Schmidt and colleagues report on a pathologic analysis of patients at Mount Sinai who underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAT), with the goal of determining which patients may avoid breast and axillary surgery post NAT. They found that a significant number of patients across breast cancer subtype benefit from downstaging based on risk stratification and insight into how an individual tumor responds to selected therapy. 

Neuro-Oncology Advances. 2020 Jan-Dec. PMID: 33241215

This paper reports on akluciferase (Akaluc)—a new bioluminescence imaging (BLI) system—as a sensitive method for in vivo tracking of glioma expansion. The researchers showed that Akaluc effectively detected in vivo tumor regression after therapy and subsequent relapse. They determined that Akaluc BLI offers superior sensitivity for in vivo tracking of glioma, thereby facilitating approaches for studying glioma growth and response to therapy.

PLoS One. 2021 Jan 4. PMID: 33395434

Researchers characterized the gut microbiome in a murine model of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) to establish its value in modeling human diseases including hepatocellular carcinoma. Their NASH model closely replicates the histology and gene signature of human NASH, making it superior, as compared to other models, for understanding NASH biology.
Presentations and Events
Hematology and Medical Oncology Grand Rounds:
Making Glioblastoma a Target for Immunotherapy
January 28, 2021
There's still time to register for
Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
January 25, 2021
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