Message from the Chair

As cancer investigators worldwide, we are at a very exciting time in the history of oncological research, both basic and translational. We have made tremendous advances over the past 20 years in terms of our understanding of oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, and other underlying causes of the disease. The entire field is now poised to make even more important discoveries about how and why these mechanisms function as they do, how we can use this information to better prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, and how we can improve the quality of life for oncology patients and their families.

Here at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS), we recognize this international trend and are working on some of the most compelling topics in human cancer, including exploring epigenetic regulation of gene expression in cancer; investigating the mechanisms underlying tumor-mediated immunosuppression/tolerance; elucidating the critical pathways that drive cancer development (notably P53,  WNT, EGFR, PI3K, PTEN, RAS, and MYC); exploring the tumor micro-environment (looking at the immune system, fibroblasts, and blood and lymphatic vessels, in addition to solid tumors themselves); and training an outstanding cadre of graduate students, postdoctoral, and clinical fellows in the field of cancer biology.

We are proud of the successes of our Department of Oncological Sciences faculty, many of whom have been recognized internationally. In our Cancer Biology program, we are involved in research ranging from fission yeast to human cells and tissues; in the Cancer Prevention & Control program, we are exploring bio behavioral issues from the effectiveness of hypnosis for symptom reduction to investigating the use of lights during chemotherapy to improve patient mood.

Our environment here at the Department of Oncological Sciences is the envy of many other schools, medical and otherwise. Located across the street from Central Park, in the heart of New York City - one of the most vibrant urban environments in the country - there is much to explore, educationally, professionally, and socially. Our goal is to have a positive imapact on cancer for our community and nation.  We are a department rich in faculty resources yet still small enough that no one feels anonymous. Both students and faculty have access to tremendous technological resources thanks to our Shared Resources program. In addition, being based in a medical center rather than a traditional university enables us to be more clearly focused, both in terms of basic and translational research, on human oncology.

Collaboration is key to cancer research everywhere and here at the ISMMS Department of Oncological Sciences, we work regularly with both basic and clinical departments. Some of our most frequent collaborators are the Departments of Cell Developmental and Regenerative Biology, Pharmacological Sciences, Surgery, Neurosurgery, Hematology and Medical Oncology, Pathology, and Genetics and Genomic Sciences. In addition, we maintain strong links to the Tisch Cancer Institute, the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism Institute, the Immunology Institute, the Derald H. Ruttenberg Treatment Center, and the Dubin Breast Center.

Not only do we work together on formal research, but we also have regularly scheduled interdisciplinary events. The Department of Oncological Sciences Seminar Series brings in nationally and internationally recognized investigators every week to present on a variety of cancer-related topics. The weekly Cancer Club meeting allows our students to discuss their own work-in-progress with professors and peers, providing early and regular exposure to speaking publicly about research.

By bringing together researchers and students from a wide variety of the oncological sciences, we are able to address the genetic, biochemical, cellular, physiological, and behavioral underpinnings of cancer. By better understanding the disease, we can improve its treatment and prevention. And by training young researchers, we can ensure that our important and holistic approach to oncological sciences will continue long into the future. I invite you to explore our website and see the exciting discoveries and opportunities available here.

Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD

Icahn Scholar
Ward-Coleman Chair in Cancer Research 
Professor and Chairman, Oncological Sciences

Director, Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Director, Mount Sinai Cancer, Mount Sinai Health System