May 2020
The Mount Sinai Health System has been at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis worldwide and continues to care for a high number of severely ill patients. From the outset of the pandemic, TCI has been on the frontline of patient care delivery and at the forefront of advancing patient care.

With no proven therapies, we are collaborating with colleagues across the Health System to rapidly elucidate the pathogenic mechanisms of the virus in order to define new targets and therapeutic options.

Our clinicians and investigators quickly leveraged Mount Sinai’s robust research infrastructure to meet the challenge. On March 11, 2020, the same day the pandemic was announced by the World Health Organization, the Department of Medicine’s Clinical Trials Office (CTO) prescribed remdesivir, an investigational antiviral, under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Investigational New Drug (eIND) pathway to a patient at Mount Sinai West. Within days, a COVID-19 positive patient was enrolled in a randomized, placebo-controlled study of an investigational formulation of sarilumab, an IL06 receptor antagonist. The Department of Pharmacy’s Investigational Drug Service , the IRB, and clinical staff across the Mount Sinai Health System undertook focused efforts to implement these protocols. The CTO created an expedited and comprehensive system to garner the necessary approvals for multiple protocols and expanded access.

National Academy of Science
Miriam Merad, MD, PhD , was elected to the National Academy of Science s in honor of her transformational contributions to the fields of myeloid cell biology and innate immunity. Dr. Merad was one of 146 newly elected members recognized for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

The National Academy of Sciences, established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, recognizes achievement in science and—with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine—provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Dr. Merad is the Mount Sinai Endowed Professor in Cancer Immunology and the Director of the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Merad also co-leads the Cancer Immunology Research Program  at The Tisch Cancer Institute and directs the Human Immune Monitoring Center .

“We at TCI are so very proud of Dr. Merad and her recognition is well deserved. Election to the National Academy of Sciences is a rare honor and we are truly blessed to have such a talented colleague who is playing such an instrumental role at the Icahn School of Medicine, the Precision Immunology Institute, and The Tisch Cancer Institute,” said Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, TCI Director. Dr. Merad joins TCI colleague Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, PhD , as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research and Career Development Award
Lauren Tal Grinspan, MD, PhD , gastroenterology fellow, has received a 2020 Research and Career Development Award from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Foundation .
Dr. Grinspan works in the laboratory of Amaia Lujambio, PhD , where she studies the contribution of the microbiome to liver cancer development. Dr. Grinspan’s funded research aims to determine if the gut microbiota of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma affects tumor response to immunotherapy with the long-term goal of harnessing the microbiome to identify biomarkers for patient stratification and identification of therapeutic targets. 
ASH Honors Award
Makda Zewde , student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has received an ASH HONORS Award . This “Hematology Opportunities for the Next Generation of Research Scientists” award, given by the American Society of Hematology, provides research funding to support work on a hematology-related research project. Ms. Zewde is a TCI Summer Scholar, working in the laboratory of James Ferrara, MD .
R01 - Study of cell adhesion and polarity
Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero, PhD , is co-investigator on a newly awarded R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute in collaboration with Rafael Garcia-Mata, PhD , at the University of Toledo. The funded research will utilize high-resolution imaging techniques in the Bravo-Cordero Lab to study how cell adhesion and polarity are established and maintained in normal cells and lost in human cancers. The goal is to understand the fundamental mechanisms controlling the function of a novel Scribble/SGEF/Dlg1 protein complex that coordinates junctional assembly, barrier function, and lumen formation in epithelial cells, and also to understand the role of the protein complex in cancer .
Institute for Medical Education Excellence in Teaching Awards
Congratulations to Janice Gabrilove, MD, recipient of the Dr. Nathan Kase Innovations in Medical Education Award, one of the Excellence in Teaching awards from the Institute for Medical Education (IME).
The IME’s Excellence in Teaching Awards honor faculty, trainees, students, and staff who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in teaching and have made meaningful contributions to the educational activities across the Mount Sinai Health System.
Dr. Gabrilove is The James F. Holland Professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A world-renowned expert on the biology of hematopoietic growth factors in normal and malignant hematopoiesis, Dr. Gabrilove holds numerous leadership/directorship roles in education.
Thesis Award, Student Excellence in Teaching , and
Outstanding Faculty Mentor
Hrishi Srinagesh, MD , a graduating MD-MA student in the Patient-Oriented Research Training and Leadership (PORTAL) program who spent his research year with James Ferrara, MD, won the PORTAL Thesis Award in Clinical Research and the Medical Student Excellence in Teaching Award from the Institute for Medical Education.

Dr. Ferrara received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the student council.

These awards celebrate innovation, commitment, and excellence in medical education.
Mount Sinai's Alpha Omega Alpha Lambda Chapter
  Vaibhav Patel, MD , Chief Fellow, Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, has been selected as a Housestaff Member of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Lambda Chapter . The Mount Sinai AOA Selection Committee, comprised of both current housestaff and faculty AOA members, selected Dr. Patel for this prestigious honor in recognition of his service as an outstanding clinician, scholar, mentor, teacher, and role model .

Damon Runyon-Rachleff

This award provides support for the next generation of exceptionally creative thinkers with “high-risk/high-reward” ideas that have the potential to significantly impact our understanding of and/or approaches to the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of cancer.

  • Application due date: July 1, 2020

The Hope Foundation for Cancer Research

This award supports early and conceptual stages of innovative SWOG research projects. The proposed work should use resources from completed SWOG trials or be directly translatable to future clinical trials in SWOG and th e National Clinical Trials Network.

  • Letter of intent due date: July 1, 2020
  • Application due date: September 1, 2020

Note: The TCI Development team can assist with preparing the sponsor components for these grant applications. Please contact Honour Marlowe
Stand Up To Cancer

Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Invites applications for the  SU2C Health Equity Breakthrough Team Research Grant Program  with a focus on new approaches to address health equity in the context of cancer research. 

  • Letter of intent due date: September 1, 2020

Memorial Sloan Kettering Lymphoma SPORE

Investigators at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, Weill Cornell Medical Center, Columbia University, Mount Sinai, and NYU are eligible.

  • Proposal due date: July 1, 2020
Epithelial plasticity can generate multi lineage phenotypes in human and murine bladder cancers

This paper reports that single cell transcriptome analyses of mouse and human model systems of bladder cancer show that tumor cells with multiple lineage subtypes not only cluster together at the transcriptional level but can maintain concomitant gene expression of a least one mRNA subtype. Functional studies reveal that tumor initiation and cellular plasticity may contribute to innate tumor heterogeneity, which informs clinical implications regarding the classification and treatment of bladder cancer. Findings help explain the variable behavior and treatment of bladder cancers to clinical treatments. The potentially dynamic nature of molecular subtypes during cancer treatment may justify repeat tumor sampling with serial lines of treatment being required to optimize the use of gene expression data to guide precision medicine strategies.
Persistent leukocytosis in polycythemia vera is associated with disease evolution but not thrombosis

There are unresolved questions regarding the association between persistent leukocytosis and risk of thrombosis and disease evolution in polycythemia vera (PV). To address this knowledge gap, the researchers analyzed a retrospective database of 520 PV patients seen at 10 academic institutions across the United States. They found that persistently elevated leukocyte trajectories were not associated with hazard of thrombotic event, but were significantly associated with increased hazard of disease evolution in an ascending stepwise manner. Additionally, they found that neither hematocrit nor platelet count were significantly associated with hazard of thrombosis or disease evolution.
Mouse models of oncoimmunology in hepatocellular carcinoma

This review lists ongoing clinical trials testing immunotherapy in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), briefly discusses the unique immunosuppressive environment of the liver, and then delves into the most applicable current murine model systems to study oncoimmunology within the context of HCC, including syngeneic, genetically-engineered, and humanized models.
Atezolizumab with or without chemotherapy in metastatic urothelial cancer (IMvigor130): a multicentre, randomised, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial

In this study, the researchers report the final analysis of progression-free survival and the interim analysis of overall survival for IMvigor130, the first phase 3 trial to assess a PD-L1 and PD-1 inhibitor alone or in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy versus platinum-based chemotherapy alone in untreated metastatic urothelial carcinoma, and the first trial to include both cisplatin-ineligible and cisplatin-eligible patients. Addition of atezolizumab to platinum-based chemotherapy was associated with a significant prolongation of progression-free survival, encouraging interim overall survival data, an increased complete response rate, and a safety profile consistent with those seen with the individual agents. IMvigor130 has already affected clinical practice, providing context for an evolving landscape of treatment approaches for first-line metastatic urothelial carcinoma, fortifying a potential role for monotherapy in select patients, and supporting atezolizumab plus platinum-based chemotherapy as a potential treatment option.

Insulin resistance contributes to racial disparities in breast cancer prognosis in US women

This multi-center, cross-sectional study of U.S. women with newly diagnosed invasive breast cancer found that insulin resistance is one factor that contributes to the worse prognosis in breast cancer between black and white women, potentially through direct effects of insulin on the tumor insulin receptor (IR). Given the differences in circulating insulin levels and tumor IR expression between black women and white women, the researchers emphasize the importance of exploring in future studies whether lowering insulin levels or targeting IR signaling will improve disparities in breast cancer survival.

Advancing scientific knowledge in times of pandemics

The COVID-19 pandemic has been matched by an impressive rise in related publications in both preprint servers and peer-reviewed journals. In an effort to help curate this unprecedented flow of scientific date, scientists at Mount Sinai’s Human Immune Monitoring Center are ranking COVID-19-related preprints according to immunological relevance.

COVID-Lung Cancer Consortium : An example of how the lung cancer community came together in challenging time.

Guest Editorial by Fred Hirsch, MD, PhD , April 24 issue

For a representative list of ASCO presentations from TCI, click here
Resuming on-site cancer care 

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our cancer care services have remained open for patients whose treatment could not wait. We are now ramping up on-site cancer visits across the Health System for optimal patient outcomes, with strict safety measures in place to protect everyone who enters our facilities.

CLL/SLL Roundtable: Updates On Patient Management
Joshua Brody, MD , Richard Bakst, MD , and Amir Steinberg, MD , discuss updates on the management of patients with CLL.
A Smiling Hero Keeps the Team Going

Rachel Pappalardo, RN, with the lung cancer program, has been working tirelessly through the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to Rachel, and to
Thomas Marron, MD, PhD, who shared her story of strength. “Our nurses are the true front-line heroes,” said Dr. Marron.
National Cancer Survivors Day
We will be with our cancer survivors in spirit on National Cancer
Survivors Day . This musical tribute will help everyone celebrate:
BroadcastMed Physician Channel
New oncology content is added continually to our BroadcastMed Physician Channel . Please send content for posting to Janet Aronson .
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