Irene Orlow, PhD

Associate Attending Biologist
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University of Buenos Aires

Current Research Interests/Research Goals

Dr. Orlow leads the Molecular Epidemiology Laboratory. Her research interests focus on the identification of host and tumor genetic and phenotypic characteristics affecting cancer risk and progression, with the ultimate goal of improving existing diagnostic tools, particularly in melanoma, lung, and bladder cancer. With the assistance of the laboratory staff, she also supports other investigators in assessment of cancer risk, prevention, surveillance, and clinical and cognitive outcomes in studies of glioma, sarcoma, pancreatic, endometrial, ovarian, and breast cancer.

As a member of the Melanoma Disease Management Team, she has built and maintains a ten-year collection of biospecimens from patients with melanoma as a resource for epidemiologic and longitudinal studies, and participates in efforts to assess risk for development and progression of the disease. Further work in melanoma with colleagues from the international Genes, Environment, and Melanoma Study includes research on vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms, and of chemokine and chemokine receptor gene SNPs, and their role as modifiers of patients' survival. Dr. Orlow also contributes as an active member of The International Lung Cancer Consortium (ILCCO), an international group of lung cancer researchers established with the aim of sharing comparable data from ongoing lung cancer case-control and cohort studies.

As an ongoing project, Dr. Orlow and her team are examining the relationship between genetic characteristics and cognitive function in patients with brain tumors who have been treated with radiation or chemotherapy, in conjunction with Drs. Correa (Neurology Department) and Satagopan (Biostatistics Department).  In addition to genetic testing, the laboratory conducts functional assays to determine levels of DNA damage, sensitivity to carcinogens, and capacity to repair induced damage in single cells. With these assays, her team has been able to distinguish patients who developed multiple primary lung cancer from those with single primaries. Currently, in a study led by Dr. Ahles (Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Department) her laboratory is assessing the levels of DNA damage in the context of changes in neurocognitive function in patients with breast cancer. In addition, Dr. Orlow directs the National Colonoscopy Study (NCS) Repository, and the lab serves as biorepository for other large epidemiologic studies including GEM, EDGE, and WECARE, and the Familial Pancreatic Cancer Registry. Future directions will include, among others, the investigation of host biological factors associated with colorectal cancer and adenomas within the NCS.

Publications by Irene Orlow

Pomerantz J, Schreiber-Agus N, Liegeois NJ, Silverman A, Alland L, Chin L, Potes J, Chen K, Orlow I, Lee HW, Cordon-Cardo C, De Pinho RA. “The Ink4a tumor suppressor gene product, p19Arf, interacts with MDM2 and neutralizes MDM2's inhibition of p53”. Cell 1998;92:713-23. [PubMed Abstract]

Orlow I, Drobnjak M, Zhang Z-F, Lewis J, Woodruff JM, Brennan MF, Cordon-Cardo C. “Alterations of the INK4A and INK4B Genes in Adult Soft Tissue Sarcomas: Effect on Survival”. J Natl Cancer Inst 1999;91:73-79. [PubMed Abstract]

Berwick M, Orlow I, Hummer AJ, Armstrong BK, Kricker A, Marrett LD, Millikan RC, Gruber SB, Anton-Culver H, Zanetti R, Gallagher RP, Dwyer T, Rebbeck T, Kanetsky PA, Busam K, From L, Mujumdar U, Wilcox H and Begg CB. The Prevalence of CDKN2A Germline Mutations and Relative Risk for Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma: An International Population-Based Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev.; 15:1520-5, 2006. [PubMed Abstract]

Orlow I, Park BJ, Mujumdar U, Patel H, Siu-Lau P, Clas BA, Downey R, Flores R, Bains M, Rizk N, Dominguez G, Jani J, Berwick M, Begg CB, Kris MG, Rusch VW. DNA damage and repair capacity in lung cancer patients: Prediction of multiple primary tumors. J Clin Oncol 26:3560-3566, 2008.[PubMed Abstract]

Orlow I, Tommasi D, Bloom B, Ostrovnaya I, Cotignola J, Mujumdar U, Busam KJ, Jungbluth A, Scolyer RA, Thompson JF, Armstrong BK, Berwick M, Thomas NE, Begg CB. Evaluation of the clonal origin of multiple primary melanomas using molecular profiling. J Invest Dermatol. 2009 129:1972-1982.[PubMed Abstract]