January 2023

2023 Specialty Report

The 2023 Tisch Cancer Institute Specialty Report is now available.


The report highlights some of TCI’s significant findings and developments during the past year.

“At The Tisch Cancer Institute, we are investigating the complexities of cancer biology and behavior with the goal of improving the lives of those affected by cancer and minimizing its power. We do this collaboratively with our colleagues across the Mount Sinai Health System and the national and international arenas of cancer.” (Welcome From the Director)

Featured Grant Renewal

Ronald Hoffman, MD, is Principal Investigator on a P01 grant from the National Cancer Institute, which has received continuous funding since 2006, with the most recent renewal occurring in 2023. The grant supports The Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Research Consortium (MPN-RC), an inter-active group of laboratory and clinical scientists from 13 institutions throughout North America who work together to generate the scientific foundation for novel therapeutic strategies which can be evaluated in rigorous, well-constructed independent investigator-initiated clinical trials. The focus of the current grant renewal is on the myeloproliferative neoplasm myelofibrosis (MF). To improve MF patient survival, Dr. Hoffman and team hypothesize that the use of drugs, which act by directly targeting malignant hematopoietic stem cells and/or by correcting their tumor promoting microenvironments, will deplete the numbers of cancer stem cells.

The research components and leaders are:

Read More

Myeloid Malignancy Workshop

Myeloid Malignancy Workshop

February 11, 2023

9 am to 4:30 pm

Davis Auditorium

Leon & Norma Hess Center for Science and Medicine

1470 Madison Avenue


Course Directors: John Mascarenhas, MD; Marina Kremyanskaya, MD, PhD; Ruben A. Mesa, MD (Wake Forest University School of Medicine)


Workshop Brochure


Questions? Contact cme@mssm.edu

New Faculty

Jennifer Marti, MD, has rejoined the staff at Mount Sinai as a breast surgical oncologist and Assistant Professor of Surgery. After medical school and general surgery training at New York University, she completed advanced breast and endocrine surgical fellowships at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Yale School of Medicine. She practiced at Mount Sinai from 2011-2016, and then New York-Presbyterian (NYP)/Weill Cornell Medicine on the Upper East Side from 2016-2022; she also served as Site Director of Breast Surgery at NYP/Lower Manhattan Hospital.

Dr. Marti specializes in the treatment of benign and malignant disorders of the breast, and has expertise in numerous procedures including hidden-scar lumpectomy and nipple-sparing mastectomy. Her research interests focus on the study and development of new approaches to de-escalate care for patients with breast cancer and to minimize overtreatment of low-risk benign lesions and cancers. She has numerous peer-reviewed publications in this field and presents regularly at national meetings.

Dr. Marti sees patients at Mount Sinai-Union Square.

Lakshmi Rajdev, MD, MS, joined Mount Sinai as Associate Professor of Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology) and Medical Director of Oncology at Mount Sinai Morningside. Dr. Rajdev’s specialty is Gastrointestinal (GI) Oncology with particular expertise in gastroesophageal and anal carcinoma; she will develop a robust clinical research program in these areas as well as HIV-associated cancers. Dr. Rajdev sees patients at both Mount Sinai Morningside and Mount Sinai West.


A nationally recognized investigator, Dr. Rajdev has chaired and co-chaired investigator-initiated and cooperative group studies. She serves on numerous scientific committees, including the Esophago-Gastric and Rectal Anal Task Force of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) GI Cancer Steering Committee and the NCI Adult Central Institutional Review Board Late Phase Emphasis Committee. She has held leadership roles in the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group GI Committee and the AIDS Malignancy Consortium. Prior to joining Mount Sinai, Dr. Rajdev spent most of her career at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein Cancer Center. More recently, she served as Chief of Hematology and Oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital and Director of GI Malignancies for the Western Region of the Northwell Health System.


Dr. Rajdev earned her MBBS from Grant Medical College in Bombay. She completed Internal Medicine residencies at Grant Medical College and Beth Israel Medical Center, and fellowship in Hematology/Oncology at New York University. Dr. Rajdev also has a Masters in Clinical Research from Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Faculty News

William Oh, MD, joined the Prostate Cancer Foundation as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Oh continues to see patients at Mount Sinai as Clinical Professor of Medicine (Hematology and Medical Oncology).

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Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, PhD, was elected as secretary of the Metastasis Research Society for a four-year term. The organization supports progressive research on processes fundamental to metastasis.

Metastasis Research Society Leadership

Jian Jin, PhD, was elected as a National Academy of Inventors (NAI) Fellow and will be inducted at the NAI annual meeting on June 27, 2023. The NAI was founded in 2010 to recognize and encourage inventors with patents issued from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, enhance the visibility of academic innovation, and translate the inventions of its members to benefit society. Dr. Jin is the Mount Sinai Endowed Professor in Therapeutics Discovery, Director of the Mount Sinai Center for Therapeutics Discovery, and Co-leader of the Cancer Clinical Investigation Program at TCI. He has more than 70 issued U.S. patents and published international patent applications.

About the NAI Fellows Program

2022 Fellows

Joshua Brody, MD, and Thomas Marron, MD, PhD, and their work on cancer vaccines were featured on FOX 5.


"Most of these cancer vaccines we are talking about are not to prevent cancer but to treat someone who already has cancer," Dr. Brody said. "So instead of a preventative vaccine we call it a therapeutic vaccine for someone who already has the problem."

"We're taking patients who have a tumor and we are creating a vaccine inside the tumor. We are teaching the immune system inside the tumor what the tumor looks like because the goal is not just to kill the tumor that we're treating with the different components of the vaccine but also to teach the immune system to kill the cancer everywhere in the body," said Dr. Marron.

Awards and Honors

Hanna Yoko Irie, MD, PhD, was the physician honoree at the Dubin Breast Center Gala, held on December 12, 2022. She was recognized as a physician scientist who is dedicated to advancing breast cancer research and providing exceptional and compassionate care.


Andrea Wolf, MD, Director of the New York Mesothelioma Program at Mount Sinai, received the 2022 Irving J. Selikoff Lifetime Achievement Award from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. The award is presented annually to an individual or organization for their dedication to increasing awareness of and prevention efforts to eliminate asbestos-related diseases.

Press Release

Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, was selected to receive the 2023 Jacobi Medallion. Recipients have made exceptional contributions to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the Mount Sinai Health System, the Mount Sinai Alumni Association, or the fields of general medicine or biomedicine. The award ceremony will be held on March 15.

Grant Awards

Doris Germain, PhD, was awarded R21 grant funding from the National Cancer Institute to study the protective role of breastfeeding against breast cancer. While breastfeeding is protective against breast cancer, the mechanism remains unknown. This R21 builds on a mouse model developed in the Germain Lab, which showed that long lactation completely inhibits the formation of mammary tumors. Dr. Germain and team will test the hypothesis that a hormone secreted by the ovaries during lactation is the mediator of the protective effect. 

Robert Fisher, MD, PhD, was awarded renewed funding of his MIRA grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. The aim of his research project—Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Control of Cell-Division and Transcription Cycles—is to uncover connections between cyclin-dependent kinases and their targets that order the transcription cycle and thereby inform potential therapeutic strategies for cancer.

Saghi Ghaffari MD, PhD, received renewal of her R01 grant—Mitochondria in the Regulation of Terminal Erythropoiesis—from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In this renewal, Dr. Ghaffari will investigate the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-independent functions of mitochondria in the regulation of red blood cell (RBC) production, identify the related signaling molecules involved, and evaluate the effect of their potential alterations in disease with the ultimate goal of improving therapies of erythroid disorders and the ex vivo production of RBCs.



Ajai Chari, MD, and colleagues

Talquetamab, a T-cell–redirecting GPRC5D bispecific antibody for multiple myeloma

New England Journal of Medicine. 2022 December 10. PMID: 36507686

Talquetamab, an off-the-shelf bi-specific antibody, elicited overall response rates of more than 70 percent when administered in heavily pretreated patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma, according to updated data from the phase 1/2 MonumenTAL-1 trial (NCT03399799, NCT04634552). Talquetamab targets GPRC5D, a receptor expressed on the surface of cancer cells. The excellent responses, maintained in multiple myeloma subgroups including high-risk disease, suggest that talquetamab may offer a viable option for patients whose myeloma no longer responds to other therapies.

Press Release

Emily Bernstein, PhD, and colleagues


MacroH2A impedes metastatic growth by enforcing a discrete dormancy program in disseminated cancer cells

Science Advances. 2022 Dec 2. PMID: 36459552

This study reveals that macroH2A histone variants can suppress head and neck squamous cell carcinoma metastasis by tapping into a set of genes found in senescent and dormant cells, suggesting that activating a subset of components of distinct growth arrest programs may be sufficient to induce and maintain dormancy. Detection of macroH2A histone variants in primary lesions or in disseminated cancer cells (DCCs) might be useful biomarkers of patients with better prognosis and/or dormant DCCs.

Kaustav Mukherjee, PhD; James J. Bieker, PhD


EKLF/Klf1 regulates erythroid transcription by its pioneering activity and selective control of RNA Pol II pause-release

Cell Reports. 2022 Dec 20. PMID: 36543143


Dr. Mukherjee and Dr. Bieker investigated EKLF DNA binding and transcription activation mechanisms during mouse embryonic erythropoiesis. Their studies provide a detailed picture of how a transcription factor acts as a pioneer to establish transcription during embryonic development and how this function becomes subverted in the presence of a variant containing a seemingly minor mutation.

Diego de Miguel-Perez, PhD; Christian Rolfo, MD, PhD; and colleagues

Baseline extracellular vesicle TGF-β is a predictive biomarker for response to immune-checkpoint inhibitors and survival in non–small-cell lung cancer

Cancer. 2022 Dec 9. PMID: 36484171

This study, led by Dr. Rolfo and colleagues, showed, for the first time, evidence that suggests extracellular vesicle (EV) transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) expression is a better predictor for treatment response and survival than circulating TGF-β and tissue PD-L1 in patients with non-small cell lung cancer who are receiving immune-checkpoint inhibitors. The results lay the foundation for the inclusion of EV TGF-β as a potential predictive biomarker in immunotherapy studies including dual PD-(L)1 and TGF-β inhibition.

Yan Xiong, PhD; Jian Jin, PhD; and colleagues


Bridged Proteolysis Targeting Chimera (PROTAC) enables degradation of undruggable targets

Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2022 Dec 14. PMID: 36448571


Dr. Jin and team developed a new technology, termed as bridged PROTAC, for targeting undruggable proteins which lack small-molecule binders. Bridged PROTAC utilizes a small-molecule binder of the target protein’s binding partner to recruit the protein complex into close proximity with an E3 ubiquitin ligase to target undruggable proteins. Applying this technology, the team discovered MS28, the first degrader of cyclin D1, which is undruggable and a top cancer target. MS28, which is a CDK4/6-binding PROTAC, preferentially degraded cyclin D1 over CDK4/6. Bridged PROTAC as a novel PROTAC strategy provides a generalizable platform for targeting undruggable proteins and expands the targetable human proteome.

Susana Ramos, PhD; Nadia Tsankova, MD, PhD; and colleagues


An atlas of late prenatal human neurodevelopment resolved by single-nucleus transcriptomics

Nature Communications. 2022 Dec 12. PMID: 36509746


Using a comprehensive single-nucleus RNA sequencing dataset of second and third-trimester human neocortical development, Dr. Tsankova and team uncover a novel cell type transiently present during late prenatal human brain development, and demonstrate that its signature is broadly recapitulated across pediatric and adult glioblastoma tumors. They speculate that further studies into glial intermediate progenitor cell lineage-specific transcription factors and their regulatory networks may facilitate the discovery of novel therapeutic targets in glioblastoma.


TCI was well represented, with oral and poster presentations, at the annual meetings of the American Hematology Society (ASH) and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), both held in December.

Zeynep H. Gümüş, PhD, gave a seminar on November 17 about a user-friendly tool she and her team are developing to enable researchers to visually analyze and explore immune monitoring assay results. The seminar was a joint event from the NCI Emerging Technologies Seminar Series and DataViz + Cancer webinar, part of the Cancer Moonshot℠ Seminar Series.

Video of the Seminar

Sacha Gnjatic, PhD, was a co-organizer of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s annual meeting; he chaired and co-chaired sessions on cancer biomarkers. 

TCI Seminar Series


January 17, Noon, Davis Auditorium

Riccardo Dalla-Favera, MD

The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University

Genomics of B cell Lymphoma: The Emerging Role of Mutations in Non-Coding Regulatory Domains


January 24, Noon, Davis Auditorium

Marina Konopleva, MD, PhD

Blood Cancer Institute, Montefiore/Einstein

Targeting Apoptotic Machinery in Leukemia: BCL-2 and Beyond

Education News

Applications are being accepted for the TCI Summer Scholars Program. The program provides research stipends for medical students at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to conduct original cancer research in clinical, translational, basic, epidemiological, or health services disciplines.


Application deadline: March 27

Application Information


Testimonials from last summer’s students Ayman Mohammad and Nina Rodriguez:

  • The fellowship experience cemented my dream of serving at the cutting edge of therapeutic investigation in oncology.
  • The best part was getting to see patients every week.
  • The program helped me develop mentoring relationships with the physicians I worked with.

The TCI Research Retreat, held on December 14, culminated in awards for the best posters. The Grand Prize ($1,500) winner was Yue Zhong from Dr. Jian Jin’s lab (Cancer Clinical Investigation). Honorable Mention awards ($500 each) went to Matthew Brown and Ashley Reid, both from Dr. Nina Bhardwaj’s lab (Cancer Immunology). Posters were judged by a faculty team representing basic science, translational research, clinical research, and population science. The award dollars are designated for attendance at cancer conferences.

Yue Zhong, PhD student: Bridged Proteolysis Targeting Chimera (PROTAC) Enables Degradation of Undruggable Targets

Ashely Reid, PhD student: Targeting Treatment-Dependent Repeat-Derived Antigens for Melanoma Vaccination

Matthew Brown, MSCR, PhD student: Interrogating Frameshift Neoantigen-Specific T Cell Dynamics in Mismatch Repair Deficient Tumor Development

Matthew earned his Master of Science in Clinical Research at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.


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