Cultivating and Administering Next-Generation Diagnostics and Treatments
Cancer ranks as the second leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly as many people as heart disease. To combat this crisis, in July Mount Sinai launched the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapeutics (CPCT), within The Tisch Cancer Institute, where we are receiving the support necessary to elevate cancer therapy to a highly personalized level. Here is a brief overview of how our two labs are working to help cancer patients live longer while enjoying an improved quality of life.
The Mount Sinai Medical Center is continuing its tradition of fostering breakthrough biomedical discoveries by nurturing a new breed of scientists. These scientists, both faculty and students, are exceptional men and women who have committed themselves to furthering medical science through innovation and are driving translational medicine using new tools, models, and approaches.
I am delighted to be part of this vision, which, combined with Mount Sinai’s history of world-class biomedical research, is now drawing students and faculty from quantitative sciences such as engineering and computer science, as well as other non-traditional backgrounds, to join in the process of creating new technologies for the prevention and treatment of human disease. For example, our recent academic affiliation with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, pools our expertise in biomedical research and patient care with Rensselaer’s talent in engineering and computational science. This unique partnership offers tremendous possibilities as it will enhance the infrastructure needed for translationally-focused faculty and students to develop novel biomedical technologies.
The Mount Sinai Medical Center is about to embark on a new chapter, one that calls for growth and expansion through a planned combination with Continuum Health Partners, and continued success within a challenging health care environment.
That message was conveyed by leaders of The Mount Sinai Medical Center at three Town Hall meetings held on Tuesday, July 9, and Wednesday, July 10, in Stern Auditorium.
“Our combination with Continuum is about preserving Mount Sinai for decades to come as a great institution,” said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center, before a standing-room-only crowd of faculty, staff, and students on Wednesday morning. “It is time that we move to the next step in health care and that is an integrated health care delivery system.”
At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, we have taken a bold new approach to our pursuit of breakthrough discovery and innovation by forming an academic affiliation with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Designed to pool our expertise in biomedical research and patient care and Rensselaer’s in engineering and invention prototyping, this affiliation will accelerate collaborations that support educational programs, research, and the development of diagnostic tools and treatments that promote human health.
With technology playing an increasingly important role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease, high competition for research funding, and the pharmaceutical industry investing less in research and development, Mount Sinai and Rensselaer are leveraging complementary strengths to revolutionize biomedical research and accelerate the pace of innovation and entrepreneurship across the health sciences. Read more
Abraham Flexner published his landmark report on undergraduate and medical school preparation of physicians in 1910. Within a few decades and continuing throughout the remainder of the 20th century, there have been admonitions to enhance, overhaul, or abolish the “traditional” pre-med requirements that he established.
The reasons for this dissatisfaction are self-evident:
- The pace of scientific discovery and its clinical application has far outstripped the current century-old requirements.
- The age of information technology has made memorizing vast amounts of content unnecessary.
- The current requirements lack clinical, scientific, and social relevance.
- The traditional requirements are used to ‘cull the herd’ of talented aspiring physicians.
- The requirements disproportionately disadvantage minority and female students who are desperately needed to maintain diversity in our healthcare workforce.
- The requirements consume so much time and effort that few students end up being grounded in bioethics, social justice, and health policy.
- A rigid and highly structured pre-medical curriculum, followed by a rigid and highly structured medical school curriculum, deprives students of the ability to develop the critically important skill of lifelong self-directed learning.
Perhaps most important, the current model has perpetuated “pre-med syndrome,” an undergraduate culture of aggressive competition for grades that runs counter to what we value most in medicine: academic and intellectual rigor, creative thinking, teamwork and collaboration, and social conscience.
How do we continue to make giant leaps in medicine? What new treatment or approach will allow us to make the greatest gains for patients, in the most effective and efficient ways possible? Where will the next breakthrough come from? These are questions that academics, clinicians, hospital CEOs and medical school deans are constantly asking as we seek to meet the challenges of modern healthcare.
People and technology have a clear role in the answer, but there is another critical factor that is often overlooked: space, and the spontaneity and ideas generated when scientists and clinicians have the ability to work side-by-side.
A great example of this came up during a recent panel discussion at our SINAInnovations conference. Eric M. Genden, MD, and Chief of the Division of Head and Neck Oncology, discussed his experience on a recent case in which a patient had distant metastatic disease that he and his team could not get to surgically. While working on the case, he happened to bump into Ross Cagan, PhD and Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Through their conversation, Dr. Cagan suggested getting a biopsy of the tumor, sequencing it, dropping it into fruit flies, and crossing it with 150 different types of chemotherapeutic agents to see what kills the tumor. Over their chance meeting and a cup of coffee, they mapped out a targeted solution to treat the patient.
It’s been reported that James Eagan Holmes, more infamously known as the movie-theatre gunman who killed 12 people during a midnight showing of Batman in Aurora, Colorado, sent a text to a classmate asking whether she knew what “dysphoric mania” was. (It is a bipolar condition that in its extremes, can include mania and paranoid delusions.) Did he have it?
Similarly we wonder whether a near-death accident in childhood, one that was marked by severe head trauma, affected Jeffrey T. Johnson, a.k.a. the Empire State Building gunman, so deeply that it influenced his decision to kill his former boss on his way into the office. Is that possible?
So often we focus on the mental conditions and environmental stressors that may have influenced the perpetrators of horrendous violence. Likewise, in the immediate aftermath of a horrific event—be it violence, an accident, or a devastating natural disaster—the media reports on the nightmares, sleeplessness, anxiety, and other classic sequelae experienced by the trauma survivors. Too rarely, though, do we explore the mental and emotional recovery of trauma survivors, and that of the family, friends, and colleagues who were affected by a victim’s death or lifelong disabilities.
Barbara Murphy, MD, MB, BAO, BCh, FRCPI, a renowned transplant immunology researcher, has been named the Chair of the Samuel F. Bronfman Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The appointment makes Dr. Murphy the first female chair of Medicine of an academic medical center in New York City. She has been the acting chair of the Department of Medicine, the largest department at Mount Sinai, since June, and Chief of its Division of Nephrology since 2004.
“For the past eight years, Dr. Murphy has demonstrated incredible leadership in the Division of Nephrology and helped elevate Mount Sinai’s already renowned transplant programs to a new level,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, The Mount Sinai Medical Center. “Her innovative approach to patient care, research, and education will undoubtedly extend the reach of Mount Sinai’s Department of Medicine as one of the finest in the nation.”