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Anthony Capobianco, PhD, Receives Grant to Disrupt Cancer Stem Cells With Novel Experimental Drugs

Anthony Capobianco, PhD, Professor at The DeWitt Daughtry Family Department of Surgery and the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, has been awarded a grant from the DeGregorio Family Foundation with support of the Esophageal Cancer Awareness Association. His research is dedicated to targeting cancer stem cell populations by dual inhibition of the Notch and Wnt pathways in upper gastrointestinal cancers with novel experimental drugs.


Despite major advances in targeted therapy, there remains an unresolved issue. The primary cause of death from cancer is due to resistance to standard therapy and metastasis. It is widely accepted that these properties of cancer are driven by distinct populations of cells termed cancer stem cells (CSCs). Through Capobianco's research, he has identified two cell components that are critical to the maintenance of these CSCs. His proposed research is to determine the efficacy of dual inhibition of these components-Wnt and Notch developmental signaling pathways-using novel experimental drugs. It is his hypothesis that inhibiting these pathways will result in disruption of the CSC populations and lead to a more durable anti-tumor effect. The preclinical studies will lay the foundation for future clinical trials.

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Anthony Capobianco, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowAnthony Capobianco, PhD. Anthony Capobianco, PhD

"Grants from foundations such as the DeGregorio Foundation are vitally important for our research efforts and really provide the ability for us to do the discovery research to find new cures, without which such studies could not be funded," Capobianco noted.


Edith Mitchell, MD, Named Enterprise Vice President for Cancer Disparities at Jefferson Health

Edith P. Mitchell, MD, FACP, FCCP, FRCP (London), Director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology, has been named Enterprise Vice President for Cancer Disparities at Jefferson Health's Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC). In her new role, Mitchell will be responsible for developing and coordinating operations for cancer care disparities across the Jefferson Enterprise, overseeing a team focused on the quality and cost-effectiveness of cancer care, and patient-oriented outcomes, as well as identifying and eliminating barriers to care, especially those related to racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities and the social determinants of health.


Mitchell joined Jefferson in 1995 and has held numerous leadership positions, including SKCC's Associate Director for Cancer Disparities and Program Leader of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program. She also serves as SKCC's principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Lead Academic Participating Site (LAPS) Program, one of 32 program recipients throughout the U.S. Throughout her career, she has prioritized individuals in medically underserved communities.

Edith P. Mitchell, M... - Click to enlarge in new windowEdith P. Mitchell, MD, FACP, FCCP, FRCP (London). Edith P. Mitchell, MD, FACP, FCCP, FRCP (London)

Her research examines the ethnic, socioeconomic, and other factors affecting clinical trial participation and barriers to accrual among minorities, as well as novel drug evaluation, chemoradiation strategies, new therapeutic regimens, supportive care, and patient selection criteria for clinical trials in breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers, and other GI malignancies.


In addition to her myriad contributions to medicine and health disparities research, Mitchell is a retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General-the first woman physician to attain the rank in history-and has been awarded more than 15 military service medals and ribbons, including the Legion of Merit, Air Force Achievement and Commendation Medals, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.


As Enterprise Vice President for Cancer Disparities, Mitchell will design an agenda for cancer disparities research that is aligned with SKCC and Jefferson goals for areas including screening, geriatric oncology, health economics, survivorship, and prevention and risk reduction. She will also participate in Jefferson-wide efforts to develop a data model and research platform supporting disparities research. Working with SKCC's basic scientists, clinical and translational researchers, and population scientists, Mitchell will develop a strong portfolio of research trials, grants, and publications.


"Dr. Mitchell has had an extraordinary career dedicated to eliminating health disparities affecting too many individuals and communities in the Philadelphia area and beyond. Her work with community health providers has increased minority participation in clinical trials and she has brought cancer screening to neighborhoods lacking access to preventive care," said Andrew Chapman, DO, Director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and EVP of Oncology Services at Jefferson Health. "Dr. Mitchell's expertise and devotion to health equity is invaluable to the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in our commitment to deliver high-quality cancer care across the region."


In addition to her leadership roles within SKCC and Jefferson, Mitchell served as the 116th President of the National Medical Association and was appointed member of the President's Cancer Panel from 2019 to 2023. She was selected for the NCI's Blue Ribbon Panel to advise the National Cancer Advisory Board on then-Vice President Joe Biden's National Cancer Moonshot Initiative and the NIH Council of Councils. Additionally, Mitchell has served on numerous committees for the NCI, ECOG-ACRIN, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), NRG Oncology, and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).


Throughout her career, Mitchell's achievements have been recognized through many honors, including the AACR Jane Cooke Wright, MD Lectureship; ASCO's Humanitarian Award; American Cancer Society's Cancer Control Award; Lifetime Achievement Award from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Jefferson's 2018 Achievement Award in Medicine; the Octavius Valentine Catto Award for community service in the City of Philadelphia; and the 2016 Historically Black College Alumnus of the Year. She has been inducted into the National Historical Black College Hall of Fame and as an honorary member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.


Miguel-Angel Perales, MD, Named 2023-2024 President of ASTCT

The American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT) announced Miguel-Angel Perales, MD, as President of the society for 2023-2024. He first served on the Board of Directors in 2017 and has been a member of ASTCT since 2001. He serves as Chief of the Adult Bone Marrow Transplantation Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and a Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College.


"I have enjoyed serving on the ASTCT Board of Directors, and I am honored to serve as President this year," Perales stated. "In my practice, my patients have a variety of hematologic malignancies and are in need of an allogeneic transplant or cellular therapy. The goal of my practice, research, and now as President of ASTCT is to further advocate for our patients and support our field by advancing the science and further providing educational opportunities for our members."

Miguel-Angel Perales... - Click to enlarge in new windowMiguel-Angel Perales, MD. Miguel-Angel Perales, MD

Prior to his time on the ASTCT Board of Directors, Perales served on the Education Committee and the Committee for Practice Guidelines. He also is the founding editor of the ASTCT Mobile App. As ASTCT President, he will direct the organization's new strategic plan and continue to bring more science focus to ASTCT to help advance better treatment options for patients.


Perales is the current Chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Transplantation and Cell-Based Therapies Committee and has served as Vice Chair and member of the Board of Directors of Be The Match (National Marrow Donor Program). He has also held leadership positions in the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research and Blood and Marrow Transplantation Clinical Trials Network.


Professionally, Perales is an expert in donor-derived hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and cellular therapy. He is currently participating in a number of studies designed to improve outcomes in patients undergoing stem cell transplantation, including ways to lower the risk of complications, relapse, and graft-versus-host disease. He is also conducting translational clinical research to investigate new ways to enhance the recovery of the immune system after a transplant and ways to help the immune system fight hematologic malignancies.


In addition to Perales, below is the complete list of the 2023-2024 ASTCT Board of Directors:


* Miguel-Angel Perales, MD, (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center); President


* Corey Cutler, MD, MPH, (Dana-Farber Cancer Institute); President-Elect President


* David Porter, MD, (University of Pennsylvania), Vice President


* Brenda M. Sandmaier, MD, (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center); Past President


* Uday Popat, MD, MBA, (MD Anderson Cancer Center); Treasurer


* Mehdi Hamadani, MD, (Medical College of Wisconsin); Secretary


* Betty Hamilton, MD, (Cleveland Clinic); Director of Community or Clinical Practice


* Nandita Khera, MD, MPH, (Mayo Clinic); Director of Community or Clinical Practice


* Dianna Howard, MD, (Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist); Director of Community or Clinical Practice


* Brian Betts, MD, (University of Minnesota); Director of Laboratory Science


* Alan Hanash, MD, PhD, (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center); Director of Laboratory Science


* Sung-Yun Pai, MD, (National Cancer Institute); Director of Laboratory Science


* Kirsten Williams, MD, (Emory University School of Medicine); Director at Large


* Lori Muffly, MD, MS, (Stanford University); Director at Large


* Nirali Shah, MD, (National Cancer Institute); Director at Large


* Robert Korngold, PhD, (JTCT); Editor-in-Chief


* Misty D. Evans, DNP, APRN, CPNP-AC, BMTCN, (Vanderbilt University/Sarah Cannon Pediatric Hematology-Oncology & Cellular Therapy at TriStar Centennial); Director of Advanced Practice Providers


* Alison Gulbis, PharmD, BCOP, (MD Anderson Cancer Center); Director of Pharmacists



Matthew Comito, MD, Named Chief Radiology Officer

Matthew Comito, MD, a board-certified radiologist, has been appointed Chief Radiology Officer at New York Imaging Specialists. "Dr. Comito has the administrative, scientific, clinical, leadership, and visionary skills needed to move the Department of Radiology forward," said Jeff Vacirca, MD, CEO.


NY Imaging Specialists offers advanced medical imaging services, including MRI, CT, PET/CT, ultrasound, mammography, interventional radiology, and more at multiple locations spanning from Manhattan to Montauk. Under his leadership, Comito will oversee all aspects of radiologic services, including diagnostic imaging, medical imaging, and nuclear medicine, while maintaining the center's high-quality standards and optimizing workflows and efficiency.

Matthew Comito, MD. ... - Click to enlarge in new windowMatthew Comito, MD. Matthew Comito, MD

Comito has expertise in all facets of abdominal and pelvic imaging with special interests in hepatobiliary, genitourinary, pancreas, and prostate MRI, as well as extensive experience in MRI for rectal cancer staging, lymphoma, and inflammatory bowel disease. He completed a Diagnostic Radiology residency at Stony Brook University Hospital, where he served as Chief Resident. After residency, he completed a fellowship in Abdominal Imaging and Intervention at Duke University Medical Center. As a multidisciplinary team member at Duke's nationally ranked urological oncology program, he trained with world experts in prostate, hepatobiliary, and pancreas imaging.


"It is an honor to take on this position as Chief Radiology Officer," Comito said. "I am privileged to work with a team of outstanding radiologists, technologists, and administrators. I look forward to supporting the continued rapid growth of NY Imaging while making expert patient care our main priority."


National Leader in Thoracic Surgery Joins RWJBarnabas Health

Richard S. Lazzaro, MD, FACS, a board-certified thoracic surgeon with 25 years of specialized experience in minimally invasive and robotic surgery, has been named to the expanded position of Chief of Thoracic Surgery for the RWJBarnabas Health Southern Region, encompassing Monmouth Medical Center, Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, Community Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), RWJUH Hamilton, and RWJUH Somerset. He will continue to ensure the coordination and delivery of exceptional thoracic surgery and cancer care across the health system. This includes collaboration with colleagues at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.


"Under Dr. Lazzaro's strategic direction and extraordinary vision, he will ensure the continued growth of our robust thoracic surgery program, providing the most advanced treatment options including clinical trials," noted Rutgers Cancer Institute Director Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS, Senior Vice President of Oncology Services at RWJBarnabas Health. "The expanded leadership role of Dr. Lazzaro further strengthens a program that leads the state in innovation and excellence."

Richard S. Lazzaro, ... - Click to enlarge in new windowRichard S. Lazzaro, MD, FACS. Richard S. Lazzaro, MD, FACS

A renowned national leader in the field, Lazzaro has pioneered many groundbreaking firsts in robotic thoracic surgery and has led one of the largest tracheobronchomalacia programs in the nation. Using minimally invasive robotic surgery, he specializes in precise surgical procedures that result in minimal scarring and faster recovery times for patients.


"Since joining RWJBarnabas Health in 2022, Dr. Lazzaro's leadership and expertise have strengthened the advanced thoracic and lung cancer care available to patients throughout the region," noted Bill Arnold, Executive Vice President, Southern Region, RWJBarnabas Health and President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJUH. "Dr. Lazzaro offers minimally invasive thoracic surgery options that have improved health outcomes for our patients."


Prior to joining RWJBarnabas Health, Lazzaro served as the Director of Thoracic Robotic Surgery and Associate Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Northwell Health. He attended Albany Medical College and completed his residency at North Shore University Hospital, Cornell University Medical College. He completed postdoctoral fellowship training in minimally invasive thoracic surgery at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, as well as in general thoracic surgery at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.


Lazzaro performs all types of adult thoracic surgery with a particular clinical interest in lung cancer surgery, robotic minimally invasive VATS surgery, esophageal surgery, tracheal surgery, tracheobronchomalacia, and tracheobronchoplasty.


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