The Tisch Cancer Institute

Meet the Director

“Unraveling the complexities of cancer requires the thinking of investigators from many different and sometimes unexpected disciplines.”  Steven J. Burakoff, MD

Steven J. Burakoff, MD, has ushered in a new era of cancer care and research at Mount Sinai. As Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute, Dr. Burakoff leads the development of a comprehensive state-of-the-art facility that will position Mount Sinai as an internationally recognized leader in cancer.

Treating, preventing, and ultimately eradicating cancer is a complex undertaking requiring interdisciplinary collaboration. At the Tisch Cancer Institute, Dr. Burakoff oversees the expansion of bench-to-bedside medicine, making it possible for breakthroughs in the laboratories to be quickly translated into novel therapeutics for patients. The Tisch Cancer Institute builds on the strengths of existing cancer care and research programs at Mount Sinai, creating disease-focused programs in hematological malignancies—including myelodysplastic syndrome and myeloproliferative disorders—hepatocellular carcinoma, and cancer of the head and neck, reproductive system, breast, prostate, bladder, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and brain.

Dr. Burakoff also leads The Tisch Cancer Institute in developing basic science programs in cancer immunology and immunotherapy, oncogene signaling and experimental therapeutics, cancer stem cells, as well as population sciences programs, such as cancer epidemiology and cancer control and prevention. The Tisch Cancer Institute also provides the most advanced technology and techniques available. Researchers routinely use state-of-the-art techniques such as flow cytometry, in vivo molecular imaging, microscopy and high-throughput, RNAi, and small-molecule screening. They also employ technologies such as hybridoma technology, human stem cells, and mouse genetics. The state-of-the-art facilities include a biorepository or tissue bank and high-throughput robotics instruments for microarray technology.

An immunologist by training, Dr. Burakoff previously served as the Director of the New York University (NYU) Cancer Institute for seven years. During his tenure, the NYU Cancer Institute recruited 24 new basic, translational, and clinical investigators, experienced a 31 percent growth in total research funding, and saw a 50 percent increase in National Cancer Institute funding. During his time at NYU, Dr. Burakoff also served as the Director of NYU School of Medicine’s Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine, a research facility dedicated to the study of developmental genetics, neurobiology, molecular pathogenesis, and structural biology.

Dr. Burakoff was recruited to NYU from the internationally renowned Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), where he was Chair of the Department of Pediatric Oncology from 1985 to 2000 and a member of the Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2000. Dr. Burakoff was the Ted Williams Senior Investigator at the DFCI, and the Margaret Dyson Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Burakoff is among the most cited scientists in his field, publishing more than 350 papers on cellular and molecular immunology, T-cell activation, and signal transduction. Dr. Burakoff holds memberships in many professional societies and organizations, including Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the American Association of Immunologists. He was the recipient of Harvard Medical School’s A. Clifford Barger Excellence in Mentoring Award, and in 2009 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Immunologists.

A native New Yorker, Dr. Burakoff received his master’s degree from Queens College and his medical degree from Albany Medical College. He completed his residency in medicine at New York Hospital–Cornell Medical Center and pursued fellowships in immunology at Rockefeller University and Harvard Medical School, where he later was awarded an honorary master’s degree. He joined the Mount Sinai faculty in 2007.