Recently, I became Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute and took the helm of a dynamic and growing enterprise that sees 10,000 patients a year. My predecessor, Steven J. Burakoff, MD, who now serves as Dean of Innovation, helped create the Institute and establish its focus on early disease detection, intervention, and treatment through the development and implementation of diagnostic tools, vaccines, imaging, and immune monitoring.
Serving as a bridge across the Mount Sinai Health System and its many departments, institutes, and hospitals, The Tisch Cancer Institute is able to monitor and treat patients early—before their cancers become more aggressive—when their chances for positive outcomes are greatest.
Our new discoveries and attention to personalized medicine extend beyond Mount Sinai’s seven hospital campuses to community outreach programs that address health care disparities and build upon the strength of our population health initiatives. Two of our community based programs—a lung cancer screening program and mobile mammography van—are highlighted in this report. Mount Sinai also has committed resources to behavioral oncology and epidemiology programs that include smoking cessation, eating, and exercise, and a new initiative in global oncology.
In addition to expanding our novel therapeutics program and cancer clinical trials network, we plan to enhance our fellowship training program, with an emphasis on recruiting and training clinical scientists to perform more patient-based research in oncology, pathology, surgery, and radiation oncology, and promoting careers in immunotherapy research. Last fall, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) acknowledged our advances in immunotherapy with a grant to support immunotherapy trials, as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative.
My laboratory also received an NCI award of $6.7 million to pursue research into the tumor-suppressing functions of the PTEN gene, based on research I began more than two decades ago, as a research fellow at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The Tisch Cancer Institute is now building a platform to detect hypermutating cancers as early as possible in a patient’s diagnosis, so we can offer immune checkpoint therapy at the most advantageous point during treatment.
In other news, William K. Oh, MD, an expert in genitourinary malignancies, has been appointed Deputy Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute. Prior to joining Mount Sinai in 2009, Dr. Oh worked at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School for 14 years. He will oversee the clinical and translational research activities of the Institute, with a goal of securing our designation as a NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center, a level higher than the NCI Cancer Center designation that we received in 2015.