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Breakthrough
 New Alzheimer’s Gene Found

Photo: Charles Manley
Carlos Cordon-Cardo, Owen O’Connor, Edward Gelmann
From left: Carlos Cordon-Cardo, Owen O’Connor, Edward Gelmann
The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC), which serves cancer patients from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center, recently recruited three renowned cancer physicians-scientists.
   “Dr. Edward Gelmann, Dr. Carlos Cordon-Cardo and Dr. Owen O’Connor each bring expertise in important clinical and research areas and will spur the development and expansion of the HICCC,” says Riccardo Dalla-Favera, Uris Professor of Pathology and Genetics & Development, director of the Institute of Cancer Genetics and director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Each will have the chance to do both basic and clinical science in a state-of-the-art environment, in a facility totally dedicated to cancer. They will collaborate not only with other cancer researchers but with outstanding people in many university departments and do clinical research in one of the best hospitals in the world.”

Edward Gelmann, M.D.
Dr. Gelmann started Feb. 1 as the chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine and deputy director for clinical research in the cancer center.
   Dr. Gelmann will expand the medical oncology division to capture opportunities to test new therapies in the clinic and streamline the process for initiating new cancer trials. He also will see patients and expand his own research on prostate cancer. Dr. Gelmann’s lab has been at the forefront of work on NKX3.1, a protein solely expressed in the prostate and shown to be the prostate cancer suppressor protein first downregulated at initiation of prostate cancer. Reductions in the level of NKX3.1 may be the initiating event in up to 70 percent of all prostate cancers.
   Before coming to CUMC, Dr. Gelmann was chief of the Division of Clinical Sciences in the Department of Oncology at Georgetown University. He also directed the Clinical Research Management Office and the Program in Growth Regulation of Cancer at Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is a graduate of Stanford University Medical School and received his oncology training at the National Cancer Institute.

Carlos Cordon-Cardo, M.D., Ph.D.
In December 2006, Dr. Cordon-Cardo, professor of pathology and urology, was appointed associate director for research infrastructure in the HICCC, vice chair of the Department of Pathology in P&S, and co-leader of the Genitourinary Malignancy Program.
   Dr. Cordon-Cardo is a pioneer in the field of molecular pathology. Over the past 20 years, he has played an instrumental role in moving cancer pathology from a discipline focused on the appearance of cancer cells under a microscope to one that also integrates molecular changes in order to better assess the tumor’s biological and clinical behavior. The integration of molecular techniques into pathology has not only improved diagnosis and prognosis of cancer, but also has increased understanding of cancer and uncovered new therapeutic targets.
   As director of the Division of Molecular Pathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), where Dr. Cordon-Cardo spent the last 24 years, he also helped create an infrastructure for translational research that harmoniously integrated physicians and scientists from different disciplines. At CUMC, he envisions a similar structure that builds bridges between basic scientists and physicians.
   Among the most highly cited researchers in clinical medicine, Dr. Cordon-Cardo has more than 350 peer-reviewed publications. He received his M.D. from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and his Ph.D. in cell biology and genetics from Cornell.

Owen A. O’Connor, M.D. Ph.D.
In March, Dr. O’Connor, associate professor of medicine, will become director of the Lymphoid Development and Malignancy Program in the HICCC and chief of the Lymphoma Service at NewYork-Presbyterian.
   The centerpiece of Dr. O’Connor’s research is translation of lab discoveries into therapies for lymphoma and other hematological cancers and testing them in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. Work in Dr. O’Connor’s lab ranges from high-throughput screening for chemicals with activity against lymphoma to investigating how such chemicals act against lymphoma in animal models.
   Three drugs studied in Dr. O’Connor’s laboratory have recently been approved by the FDA. One of the drugs, pralatrexate, was designed for patients with T-cell lymphoma by Dr. O’Connor, in collaboration with chemists at MSKCC. His goal is to integrate Columbia’s chemists and physician-scientists to develop new therapies for patients.
   Dr. O’Connor is currently head of the Laboratory of Experimental Therapeutics for the Lymphoproliferative Malignancies and an attending physician in the Department of Medicine at MSKCC.
   He received his Ph.D. in biochemical toxicology and chemical carcinogenesis from NYU and his M.D. from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. He completed his internship and residency in medicine at The New York Hospital-Cornell University, his fellowship in medical oncology and pharmacology at MSKCC and a postdoctoral fellowship in chemical engineering.

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