P&S Journal: Winter 1995, Vol.15, No.1
The Renaissance Reshaping Cancer at CPMC
Significant change also defines the clinical research division. Of major importance was the 1993 recruitment of Dr. Karen Antman, formerly of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. At CPMC she is medical oncology chief, professor of medicine, associate director of the CPCC clinical research division, and director of the clinical trials core facility.
Clinical research formerly arranged around treatment modalities, such as medical, surgical, and radiation interventions and pediatric oncology, is now organized around organ sites, such as hematologic malignancies, urologic tumors, and neuro-oncology. The program in women's cancer, headed by Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of public health, and the program in gastrointestinal cancer, headed by Dr. Alfred Neugut, associate professor of clinical medicine and of public health (epidemiology), are in development. A recent major grant from the NCI will create a multidisciplinary breast cancer program to be directed by Dr. Antman.
"The new arrangement of the clinical research division should maximize the opportunity for clinical and laboratory investigators to collaborate on projects with a common focus and should position these groups to apply for grants," says Dr. Weinstein.
Dr. Bank heads the 20 members of the hematology clinical research subdivision. In 1993, the group published 192 articles and received direct grant support of $1.9 million. Developments are ongoing in gene therapy and understanding the role of p53 and other oncogenes and cell markers in lymphomas and leukemia. Future plans include extension of gene-based therapeutic and diagnostic/ prognostic activities. Dr. Charles Hesdorffer, assistant professor of clinical medicine and director of bone marrow transplantation, is the principal investigator of the gene therapy protocol to increase bone marrow drug resistance to chemotherapy.
Columbia has one of the largest brain tumor centers in the country. About 370 operations are performed annually, and the tumor bank has more than 1,000 specimens. Dr. Jeffrey Bruce, assistant professor of clinical neurosurgery (in pathology), directs the neuro-oncology clinical research subdivision. In 1993, the 19 members of his group published 206 articles and received $2.3 million in direct support.
Dr. Bruce collaborates in a consortium of institutions (Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Brown, Massachusetts General, Northwestern, and Henry Ford) committed to developing new approaches to brain tumor therapy. Examples of translational research include studying the role of angiogenesis factors in constraining tumor growth and work with the Tesla 5.0 MRI that will allow advanced imaging of brain tumors.
Dr. Mitchell Benson, associate professor of clinical urology, former Irving clinical research scholar, and director of the cancer center's urogenital clinical research subdivision, has developed a center of excellence for the diagnosis and treatment of genitourinary cancers, including prostate, kidney, and bladder cancers, and for collaborative laboratory research in genitourinary tumors.
Translational studies in the subdivision include the development of a new prostate test, called prostate specific antigen density, that better predicts appropriate treatment for patients; a diagnostic test, called peripheral blood RT-PCR, that improves prostate cancer staging; and molecular control of programmed cell death, called apoptosis, in prostate cancer cells. His group has 21 members who last year published 267 articles and received direct grant support of $1 million.