Boston Children’s Hospital Receives $1.5 million for SCD Research, Fred Hutch Names New Endowed Chairs, and more

Weill Cornell Researchers Awarded $9 Million for Lymphoma Research

Selina Chen-Kiang, PhD
Selina Chen-Kiang, PhD

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) awarded a five-year, $9-million Program Project Grant (P01) to Weill Cornell Medicine to support research into mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). This represents the first P01 solely focused on MCL.

Selina Chen-Kiang, PhD, professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, will lead a team of investigators with complementary expertise who will conduct three synergistic projects exploring the molecular, cellular, and genetic changes that occur in patients with MCL before, during, and after treatment. Also, in collaboration with colleagues at Ohio State University, Weill Cornell researchers will further develop ways to circumvent resistance by targeting the epigenome. The researchers hope that this work will offer insights about drug resistance in other types of blood cancers and solid tumor malignancies.

Source: Weill Cornell Medicine press release, November 26, 2018.

Kenneth Kaushansky Elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

Kenneth Kaushansky, MD

Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, a hematologist who is senior vice president for health sciences and dean of the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York, has been elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

Dr. Kaushansky was recognized for his contributions to the understanding of molecular biology of blood cell production. At the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Kaushansky and his research team successfully cloned thrombopoietin and other genes important in the growth and differentiation of blood cells. This enabled them to study the pathobiology of several congenital disorders of platelet and stem cell production.

At Stony Brook University, Dr. Kaushansky spearheaded the development of the Medical and Research Translation (MART) Building, which will serve as an incubator for new approaches using imaging and informatics to better understand the causes of and treatments for cancer.

Source: Stony Brook University press release, December 12, 2018.

Boston Children’s Hospital Receives $1.5 Million for Sickle Cell Disease Research

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $1.5 million to Boston Children’s Hospital to support the development of gene therapy treatments for pediatric patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). This research also aims to enable delivery of gene therapy to developing regions of the world, where SCD is prevalent.

The project will be led by David A. Williams, MD, 2015 president of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) and chief scientific officer and senior vice president of Boston Children’s Hospital and president of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. He will work collaboratively with Paula Hammond, PhD, of the Koch Institute; Christian Brendel, PhD, of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s; Harvey Lodish, PhD, of the Whitehead Institute; and David Scadden, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital.

The grant continues to support a clinical trial of gene therapy that is being conducted at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s.

Source: Boston Children’s Hospital press release, December 19, 2018.

Fred Hutch Names New Endowed Chairs

Two faculty members at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center received two endowed chairs, funded by Barbara Stephanus, that will provide long-term research support.

Denise Galloway, PhD

Denise Galloway, PhD, who received the Paul Stephanus Memorial Endowed Chair, studies the role of human viruses in cancer development. Dr. Galloway leads the Pathogen-Associated Malignancies Integrated Research Center, a campus-wide collaboration at Fred Hutch that studies cancers that arise from infections. Her research into human papillomavirus helped investigators understand how the virus can lead to cancers and contributed to the development of the first vaccine against the virus.

Hans-Peter Kiem, MD, PhD

Hans-Peter Kiem, MD, PhD, received the Stephanus Family Endowed Chair for Cell and Gene Therapy. Dr. Kiem’s work focuses on combining gene therapy and hematopoietic cell transplantation to cure diseases such as leukemia and genetic blood diseases, including anemia and SCD. He recently initiated a clinical trial of gene therapy to fix the disrupted gene that causes the blood and bone marrow failure associated with Fanconi anemia.

Source: Fred Hutchinson press release, December 21, 2018.

Kimmel Cancer Center Names Inaugural Immunotherapy Professorships

Three researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center were appointed as the first recipients of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Professorships in cancer immunology. The new positions grant the scientists “the flexibility to pursue the high-risk multidisciplinary projects that produce paradigm shifts” in cancer treatment strategies, according to Drew Pardoll, MD, PhD, director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Jonathan Powell, MD, PhD, associate director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at the Kimmel Cancer Center, was recognized for his work on the signals that promote T-cell differentiation, activation, and function.

Cynthia Sears, MD, associate director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, will focus on the role of the microbiome in the development of cancers and impact on cancer treatment. Dr. Sears also is program leader for microbiome science at the institute and a member of the Kimmel Cancer Center.

Suzanne Topalian, MD, associate director of the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and leader of the melanoma program at the Kimmel Cancer Center, will continue her research on modulating immune checkpoints to treat cancer, as well as identifying biomarkers to predict which patients and tumor types are most likely to respond to various immunotherapies.

Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine press release, December 6, 2018.