Honoring, remembering, and celebrating

Everything we do at The Tisch Cancer supports our quest to transform cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment, with the goal of improving the lives of cancer patients and their loved ones. Whether we have direct contact with patients or work behind the scenes, patients’ journeys affect all of us. And, so, it was most fitting to honor those patients who succumbed to their disease in the past year with a Service of Remembrance . Held on October 2, the second annual service provided an opportunity to reflect on lives lost, the bravery of patients and their loved ones, and hope for the future. It was also an opportunity for staff to recognize the emotional toll that is part of caring for cancer patients.
Amir Steinberg, MD , Associate Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology, and himself a lymphoma survivor, said, “It was a very moving service and I appreciated having the opportunity to participate.” He shared an original poem , inspired by the mutual love, support, and commitment shown by a patient and her husband before she passed away.
Under the guidance of Cardinale Smith, MD, PhD , Director of Quality for Cancer Services across the Health System, and with participation from social workers, chaplains, other staff, and families of patients, the annual Service of Remembrance fulfills the needs to take pause and pay tribute and to keep our mission front and center.
Reducing false +/- screening mammography results
Breast cancer in the United States is the most common cancer in women, the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women, and the second most common cause of death from cancer among other women ( CDC statistics ). Despite the benefits of screening mammography in detecting and reducing mortality from breast cancer, it is associated with risk of both false positives and false negatives. A multi-disciplinary team at Mount Sinai* developed a deep learning algorithm to detect breast cancer on screening mammograms that achieved excellent performance in comparison with previous methods. Their findings demonstrate that deep learning methods can attain high accuracy on heterogeneous mammography platforms and hold promise for improving diagnosis. ( Article in Scientific Reports )

Li Shen, PhD , Neuroscience
Laurie Margolies, MD , Diagnostic, Molecular and Interventional Radiology
Joseph Rothstein, MS , Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Population Health Science and Policy
Eugene Fluder, PhD , Scientific Computing
Russell McBride, PhD , Pathology
Weiva Sieh, MD, PhD, MS , Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Population Health Science and Policy
Radiation Oncology Center to Open in Greenlawn
Mount Sinai Doctors Long Island , part of the Mount Sinai Health Network , is expanding cancer services at its Cuba Hill Road, Greenlawn location with the addition of a Radiation Oncology Center. Scheduled to open in November, the Radiation Oncology Center will be co-located with more than 20 specialties, including medical oncology and infusion, thereby enhancing comprehensive cancer care for patients. 
Endowed Chairs
Congratulations to our faculty who will be installed into endowed chairs at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Convocation on October 17.
5 pm, Goldwurm Auditorium at Icahn Medical Institute
Joe Lowe and Louis Price Professor of Medicine
Mount Sinai Professor
in Multiple Myeloma 
Eugene W. Friedman, MD Professor of Surgical Oncology
Mount Sinai Professor in Bioinformatics
Lillian and Henry M. Stratton
Professor of Gene and Cell Medicine
Appointed Chief Medical Officer
Hearn Jay Cho, MD, PhD , Associate Professor with the Center of Excellence for Multiple Myeloma at The Tisch Cancer Institute, was appointed Chief Medical Officer of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in September. An integral member of the foundation’s executive leadership team, Dr. Cho will focus on developing a clinical research strategy and accelerating drug development programs. At Mount Sinai, Dr. Cho treats patients in the clinical setting and researches patient-specific vaccines as an immunotherapeutic approach to hindering myeloma growth. “I am excited to continue my work at Mount Sinai while expanding my role in advancing new treatments,” says Dr. Cho.
Elected Secretary and Member

At the 13th annual conference of the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA), held September 20-22, Augusto Villanueva, MD, PhD, chaired a symposium on The Cell of Origin of Liver Cancer, and Amaia Lujambio, PhD presented on Molecular Diversity in Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Also during the conference, Dr. Villanueva was elected Secretary of the Executive Committee of the Governing Board and Dr. Lujambio was elected as a member of the Governing Board Council.
NIH Director's Early Independence Award
Robert Samstein, MD, PhD , received an NIH Director’s Early Independence Award for “Dissecting the Influence of DNA Damage Response and Homologous Recombination Deficiencies on Tumor Immungenicity.” His research is focused on elucidating the role of DNA damage repair and response pathway in altering a tumor’s ability to be recognized and attacked by the immune system. Dr. Samstein also recently received the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Medical Scientists for his work. Dr. Samstein is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology and has a laboratory in the Precision Immunology Institute .

Stop DCCs from forming live-threatening metastases
Maria Soledad Sosa, PhD , Assistant Professor of Pharmacological Sciences and Oncological Sciences, received a Career Development Award from the Melanoma Research Foundation to develop a therapeutic strategy to keep disseminated cancer cells (DCCs) in a dormancy phase by blocking Midkine , which acts as a reactivation signal, and inducing dormancy signals via the transcription factor NR2F1 . The goal is to stop DCCs from forming live-threatening metastases. Dr. Sosa is conducting this research under the mentorship of María S. Soengas, PhD , with CNIO , Spain.

New approach to curing sickle cell disease
James J. Bieker, PhD , and Jeffrey Glassberg, MD , are recipients of the 2019 Sickle Cell Disease/Advancing Cures Award , funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Their research project is titled: Quantitative Modulation of an Erythroid Regulator as a Novel Genetic Target for Sickle Cell Disease. Gene therapy for sickle cell disease (SCD) has become a reality, with several patients cured and many clinical trials underway. Current approaches to SCD gene therapy still require ex vivo editing and chemotherapy with related concerns about toxicity and long-term engraftment. Drs. Bieker and Glassberg will undertake a series of preclinical experiments to explore a new approach to curing SCD that has the potential to overcome the current drawbacks of SCD gene therapy.

Decay accelerating factor and B cell immunity

Peter Heeger, MD, and David Dominguez-Sola, MD, PhD, were awarded an R01 for “Decay Accelerating Factor and B cell Immunity.” They will study a previously unappreciated link between germinal centers and the complement pathway —a complex system of proteins with ancestral and ancillary roles in inflammation. The results have the potential to guide second order studies aimed at exploiting the complement/B cell axis to either inhibit development of pathogenic B cell responses (e.g., in transplantation or autoimmunity) or augment B cell response (e.g., in response to vaccines).
Associate Director of Clinical Research at TCI
Karyn Aalami Goodman, MD, MS, joined Mount Sinai in September as Professor and Vice Chair for Research and Quality in the Department of Radiation Oncology, and as Associate Director for Clinical Research at The Tisch Cancer Institute. Most recently at the University of Colorado Cancer Center where she served as Associate Director of Clinical Research, Dr. Goodman was the head of Gastrointestinal Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center from 2007 to 2015. She began her academic medicine career on the faculty at Stanford University in 2004.
An internationally recognized expert on gastrointestinal cancers, Dr. Goodman has served with several organizations such as the American Society for Clinical Oncology to establish national treatment guidelines and best practices. She currently serves as Co-chair for the National Cancer Institute Gastrointestinal Steering Committee. Dr. Goodman’s research focuses on improving outcomes and reducing toxicity in patients with gastrointestinal malignancies. With extensive experience as principal investigator on clinical trials, she is involved in development of therapeutic protocols combining radiation, chemotherapy, targeted agents, and immunotherapy.
Dr. Goodman earned her MD from Stanford University and MS from Harvard School of Public Health. She completed an internship in Internal Medicine at Stanford and residency training in Radiation Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
As Associate Director for Clinical Research at The Tisch Cancer Institute, Dr. Goodman will be responsible for developing the infrastructure and resources to support cancer clinical trial research across the Health System. William Oh, MD , was the founding Associate Director for Clinical Research, and has served ably in that role for over a decade. Dr. Oh, Deputy Director of TCI since 2017, co-led the search for Dr. Goodman and will work closely with her to facilitate a smooth transition.
Assistant Professor at Precision Immunology Institute
Lucas Ferrari de Andrade, PhD, joined the Department of Oncological Sciences as an assistant professor in August. Based at the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (PrIISM) under the leadership of Miriam Merad, MD, PhD , Dr. Ferrari is investigating the therapeutic effect of monoclonal antibodies in tumor models. Dr. Ferrari earned his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Cancer Immunology and Virology and a research fellowship in Neurology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Cryo-EM structure and dynamics of eukaryotic DNA polymerase
δ holoenzyme

The survival of all organisms depends on their ability to faithfully duplicate their genome. DNA polymerase delta is the central enzyme that replicates the bulk of DNA in higher organisms, from yeast to humans. Taking advantage of recent advances in cryo-EM, the researchers are able to present for the first time a near atomic resolution structure of the complete enzyme in the act of DNA synthesis. As such, they are able to address longstanding questions about both the architecture and mechanism of this complex enzyme and its internal dynamics. The researchers uncover the basis of cancer and other disease mutations that modulate the activity of this central enzyme in maintaining genomic stability.
Epigenomic profiling discovers trans-lineage SOX2 partnerships driving tumor heterogeneity in lung squamous cell carcinoma

Lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC)—the second most common histological subtype of lung cancer—has a poor overall 5-year survival rate and is a major cause of death worldwide. In the this study, we investigated super-enhancer (large clusters of putative enhancers in close genomic proximity) profiles in LUSC and identified a novel neural lineage signified by Sox2—the most commonly amplified oncogene in LUSC— and neural transcription factor Brn2. Identifying unique vulnerabilities of each LUSC lineage could lead to a novel approach to developing therapeutic strategies for this heterogeneous disease.
Single-Cell and population-level analyses using real-time kinetic labeling couples proliferation and cell death mechanisms

Researchers report on a versatile method for single-cell and population-level analyses using real-time Kinetic Labeling (SPARKL). SPARKL integrates high-content live-cell imaging with automated detection and analysis of fluorescent reporters of cell death. Compared to traditional methods of detection and analysis, SPARKL is more sensitive, accurate, and high throughput while substantially eliminating sample processing and providing richer data. This new technology can be applied to genetic, pharmacological, and small molecule discovery platforms. 
Chemo Companions Program: Medical and graduate students take on new roles in patient care

Understanding both a patient's need for support during the cancer journey and the importance for medical students to personally connect with those they care for led to the creation of Chemo Companions in 2016. Through this program, students assume a companion/support role with cancer patients receiving chemotherapy at one of Mount Sinai's cancer care locations. 
Concise Summaries of Cancer: 2019 Edition
Mount Sinai Expert Guides: Oncology features latest updates on oncology, hematology, bone marrow transplant, and multidisciplinary care of cancer patients. Full book . Editors: Ajai Chari, MD ; William Oh, MD

Oncology Interest Group Topic: Interdisciplinary Approach to Breast Cancer
The Oncology Interest Group of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai met on September 26 for a discussion about Mount Sinai’s interdisciplinary approach to breast cancer. Participating faculty included:

The Oncology Interest Group aims to foster an interest in the field of oncology among the medical student body, connect students with opportunities—volunteer, clinical, and research—in oncology, and give interested students the tools to pursue a career in oncology. Formed in 2012, the group meets three or four times during the academic year. Janice Gabrilove, MD, serves as faculty advisor.
Save the date for FRONTIERS IN ONCOLOGY - Tuesday, December 3
Noon to 1 pm, Davis Auditorium
Guest Presenter: Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, DSc (Hon), Professor, Hellen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California San Francisco.
Dr. McCormick's research centers on the fundamental differences between normal and cancer cells that can allow for discovery of novel therapeutic strategies. At the Frederick National Lab for Cancer Research , he is overseeing the Ras Initiative , an NCI supported national effort to develop therapies against Ras-driven cancers. 
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Course
Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, PhD , and Jose Javier Bravo Cordero, PhD , were invited speakers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s course Biology of Cancer: Microenvironment & Metastasis , held in September. Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso presented “A mesenchymal-like program induced by ZFP281 coordinates dormancy and plasticity of early-disseminated mammary tumor cells.” Dr. Bravo- Cordero presented “A self-made quiescent ECM niche regulates metastatic dormancy.”
Also in September, Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso delivered the Distinguished Lecture in Cancer Research on “Role of adult stem cell niches and primed pluripotency programs in early DCC” at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center.
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    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.