The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai (TCI) has been awarded $13 million as part of the renewal of its National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Designation, a prestigious distinction that is based on scientific excellence, robust clinical research, and beneficial community impact. The National Cancer Institute rated TCI’s application as “outstanding.”
The five-year redesignation award—the Institute’s second consecutive designation—will support research programs and facilities, promote collaborative translational cancer research in a coordinated manner, and help disseminate cancer research findings to the community. The funding complements $53 million in current cancer research grants earned by TCI investigators.
The strategic plan that helped lead to the redesignation this year included cutting-edge clinical research developed by teams from several disciplines, allowing TCI to provide personalized care to the New York City metro area’s diverse communities. Four areas in which TCI researchers and physicians excel, and which contributed to the redesignation, include:
- Understanding cancer tumors and the immune system interaction on a cellular level, also known as the tumor microenvironment, a fertile area for improving cancer treatment
- Enhancing research in genetics, gene regulation, and signaling pathways, promising areas for discoveries that will improve the lives of cancer patients
- Elevating cancer disparities research as a means to promote equity and find better prevention and treatment strategies in the New York metro area, with a special emphasis on TCI’s neighboring communities of Central Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper East Side
- Disseminating TCI discoveries throughout the greater Mount Sinai network. TCI is part of an expanding cancer care network that includes seven different hospitals in New York City with more than 10,000 new cancer patients per year.
TCI was first named an NCI-designated cancer center in 2015. Since then, the recruitment of leaders in cancer genomics, lung cancer, cancer immunology, and clinical research, and the exponential growth of clinical trials originated by Mount Sinai physicians, has helped bolster the cancer center’s national prominence and continued to bring cutting-edge research from the lab to the bedside of Mount Sinai patients.
“The NCI redesignation recognizes our plan to maximize our ability to make an impact in our community and at the national level over the next five years, expanding on our successes in four key areas: cancer immunology, cancer mechanisms, cancer clinical investigation, and cancer prevention and control,” said Ramon Parsons, MD, PhD, Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai, Ward-Coleman Chair in Cancer Research, and Chair of Oncological Sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Our patients are the beneficiaries of our commitment to advancing scientific research in cancer and harnessing our findings into new therapies and prevention initiatives.”
Some achievements in the four key areas include:
- Identifying new targets in and around cancer cells to design therapies to attack those targets and kill the cancer, in the cancer clinical investigations program, which is led by Jian Jin, PhD, and Marshall Posner, MD
- Developing cancer vaccine trials using samples of a patient’s tumor to create a personalized vaccine that would prevent cancer recurrence and that could be combined with immunotherapy for increased benefit to the patient, in the cancer immunology program, led by Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD, and Miriam Merad, MD, PhD
- Researching the biology of dormant tumor cells, leading to a clinical trial in prostate cancer, in the cancer mechanisms program, led by Emily Bernstein, PhD, and Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, PhD
- Researching whether the use of white light in bone marrow transplant and lymphoma patients improves sleep and reduces depression, in the cancer prevention and control program, led by Nina Bickell, MD, and Emanuela Taioli, MD, PhD
“Our physicians have built up a repertoire of investigator-initiated trials and novel clinical research studies, which contributed to this redesignation and has become a strength of The Tisch Cancer Institute,” said William K. Oh, MD, Deputy Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute, Chief of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Mount Sinai Health System, and the Ezra M. Greenspan, MD, Professor in Clinical Cancer Therapeutics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “Another strength that sets us apart is our research on cancer in World Trade Center responders, due to our unique position of having a monitoring program at Mount Sinai. Our research has led to insights into how inflammation leads to cancer as well as which cancers should be investigated in this vulnerable population.”
“The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai investigates real-world, complex medical problems and solves them with teams of scientists and physicians that successfully integrate many disciplines,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and President for Academic Affairs of the Mount Sinai Health System. “The NCI redesignation underscores our exceptional leadership, extensive research facilities, and an institution-wide commitment to research with a focus on identifying and combatting disparities so that all patients receive the best care possible.”