Zinner Named CEO of Miami Cancer Institute
MICHAEL ZINNER was named CEO and executive medical director of Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida.
Zinner served as clinical director at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, and surgeon-in-chief at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is also the Moseley Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and founder of Harvard’s Center for Surgery and Public Health. Zinner is also co-founder and co-director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
From 2008 to 2010, Zinner was the chairman of the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons, and is now vice chair of the Board of Regents. Additionally, he is chairman of the organization’s Health Policy and Advocacy Committee.
A Miami native, Dr. Zinner received his M.D. degree from the University of Florida and did his surgical residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
STUART ORKIN received Boston Children’s Hospital’s Lifetime Impact Award at the hospital’s third annual Global Pediatric Innovation Summit.
Orkin is associate chief of hematology/oncology at Boston Children’s Hospital and chair of pediatric oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“Dr. Orkin’s contributions to the patients, families and staff from both our hospitals have been immeasurable,” said Boston Children’s Hospital President and CEO Sandra Fenwick. “For all of his dedication to research and care, he has never lost sight of teaching the next generation of researchers and caregivers, and we have all learned so much from him, particularly when it comes to commitment to excellence.”
Orkin’s laboratory was one of the first to apply molecular biology and DNA sequencing techniques to thalassemia, a blood disorder characterized by defects in genes that provide the instructions for producing hemoglobin. In addition, he has systematically dissected the hematopoietic process, identifying nearly every one of the master genes called transcription factors that regulate the development of every cell type found in the blood.
“Stu has always been in the vanguard when it comes to expanding our understanding of gene regulation, hematopoiesis and how they can go awry to cause blood disorders and leukemias,” said David Williams, president of Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. “We will continue to see the impact of his work as a scientist, a leader and a mentor for years to come.”
In recent years, his laboratory has studied the roles of two molecular switches—gene BCL11A and an enhancer that controls its activity—in controlling production of the adult and fetal forms of hemoglobin. Sickle cell anemia and thalassemia are both caused by mutations in adult hemoglobin. Orkin and his collaborators are attempting to use gene editing technologies such as CRISPR to manipulate BCL11A’s enhancer and force red blood cells to dial down adult hemoglobin production in favor of the fetal form.
Orkin also is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the David G. Nathan Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
CITY OF HOPE announced several appointments to its faculty.
Susanne Warner was named an assistant clinical professor in the department of surgery. In 2010, Warner completed a research fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Following residency, Warner completed a clinical fellowship in hepatopancreatobiliary and advanced gastrointestinal surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center, where she was also a clinical lecturer. Her research interests include clinical applications of oncolytic viral therapies, and humanities research centered on the spiritual, emotional, and physical optimization of the perioperative patient experience.
Ling Li joined as an assistant professor in Gehr Family Center for Leukemia Research and Division of Hematopoietic Stem Cell and Leukemia Research. Li’s research focuses on studying the aberrantly regulated epigenetics that initiate or maintain acute myeloid leukemia. Li was the first to report aberrant activity of SIRT1 leads to deacetylation and therefore suppression of p53-signaling contributing to survival of leukemia stem cells. His laboratory is currently determining the epigenetic-related resistance mechanisms of LSC to the treatment of tyrosine kinase inhibitors. The primary goal of this effort is to develop novel therapeutics to specifically target LSC and advance these strategies for clinical trials in AML.
Edwin Manuel joined the Department of Experimental Therapeutics as an assistant professor. Manuel’s current research focuses on approaches to overcome mechanisms of tumor escape, which can compromise the efficacy of immunotherapeutic strategies. One major contributor to tumor escape is the over-expression of tumor-derived proteins that cause significant immune suppression. Manuel has developed a bacterial-based approach that effectively targets a variety of immunosuppressive proteins to rescue anti-tumor responses in preclinical models of melanoma and pancreatic cancer.
Irina Chilian was named associate clinical professor in the department of medical specialists, specializing in neurology. Chilian joins City of Hope after being in private practice for 13 years, and serving as a consultant to City of Hope since 2012. In 2002, Dr. Chilian completed a clinical neurophysiology fellowship from USC’s Keck School of Medicine/VA Medical Center.
SIDNEY KIMMEL CANCER CENTER at Johns Hopkins University made several personnel changes.
Kenneth Cohen was named associate director of integration and strategic relationships for the Department of Oncology. In this role, Cohen will work with faculty members and administration to represent the interests of the department and the Cancer Center in discussions and negotiations with outside entities.
Charles Drake was appointed co-director of the Kimmel Cancer Center’s Immunology Program. He joins Drew Pardoll in leading the program. In addition to his research responsibilities, Drake is a clinical oncologist specializing in prostate, kidney, bladder and testicular cancers.
Khinh Ranh Voong has been appointed instructor in the Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences, where she will be a part of the thoracic oncology team based at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Syed Ali was appointed as an instructor in oncology for the Division of Hematologic Malignancies. Ali will focus on novel and immune-based approaches for the treatment of multiple myeloma. He will serve as an attending on the inpatient hematologic malignancy service, supervise fellows’ clinic, participate in bone marrow reading and see patients in clinic.
Nilanjan Chatterjee has joined the faculty as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor with a dual appointment in the Department of Oncology’s Division of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and in the Department of Biostatistics at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Doug Smith, of the Department of Oncology’s Division of Hematologic Malignancies, was promoted to professor of oncology.
ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S RESEARCH HOSPITAL, The Scripps Research Institute and other institutions launched the Human Dark Proteome Initiative, to focus on the portion of the proteome that does not adopt defined 3D structures.
Recent developments in technology, including advances in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy methods, allow researchers to study intrinsically disordered proteins and intrinsically disordered regions of these molecules.
“Our goal is to raise awareness about the potential societal impacts of a broad-based research infrastructure for these understudied proteins,” said Richard Kriwacki, a member of the St. Jude Department of Structural Biology.
THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF RADIOLOGY and several colorectal cancer care advocacy groups urged Congress to pass the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act, which would provide Medicare coverage for seniors who choose those screening exams.
“A third of those who should be screened for colorectal cancer can’t have or won’t get a colonoscopy. CT colonography increases screening rates where offered. Medicare coverage would provide seniors with insured access to an exam that may appeal to them. This would jump-start screening, catch more cancers early and saves more lives,” said Eric Hargis, CEO of Colon Cancer Alliance. Other advocacy groups included the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation, the Colon Cancer Coalition, and Fight Colorectal Cancer.
Several major insurers cover screening with virtual colonoscopy, and more than 20 states require insurers to cover these exams. However, Medicare does not cover beneficiaries for CT colonography.
In recent draft recommendations, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force named virtual colonoscopy an alternative screening exam; the task force did not grade specific screening exams. The American Cancer Society strongly supported CT colonography in its comments to the task force on those draft recommendations. The ACR has urged the task force to reclassify CT colonography as a recommended screening exam.
THE TISCH CANCER INSTITUTE at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and CTI BioPharma Corp. established a $1.5 million research endowment fund, the CTI BioPharma International Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, for international collaboration in translational research in hematology and immunobiology.
The fellowship and endowment will provide seed funding to young physician researchers. Mount Sinai will receive endowment funding over three years to identify and select research projects from medical researchers currently working at international institutions based outside the U.S.