Infectious Disease: Overview

The Infectious Diseases Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has a long history of conducting research on the management of infectious diseases in immunocompromised patients. In the 1970’s, the Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Infectious Diseases Service performed pioneering studies of the diagnosis and therapy of infections in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy for cancer, and, in the 1980’s, became a center for the study and therapy of AIDS. In recent years, the research focus of the Infectious Diseases Service has been extended to clinical and laboratory investigation of immune responses to bacterial, fungal and viral infection. Laboratory and clinical investigators of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Infectious Diseases Service are studying adaptive and innate immune responses to infection in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation.

The Clinical Infectious Diseases training program at Memorial Sloan Kettering, though general in terms of the breadth of infections seen in our patient population, is particularly focused on infections of the immunocompromised host. The Infectious Diseases Service has an active Fellowship Program that prepares fellows for the practice of general Infectious Diseases with emphasis on the treatment of infections in the compromised host. Fellows also receive extensive research training in clinical investigation or basic laboratory research in preparation for careers in academic infection and diseases.

The research directions of the Infectious Diseases Service are described in detail by the individual faculty. Broadly, clinical investigation within the Infectious Diseases Service focuses on diagnosis and therapy of infections in the compromised host and hospital infection control. Collaborative clinical research projects between the Infectious Diseases Service and other services within Memorial Sloan Kettering focus on monitoring and augmenting antiviral immunity in transplant patients and patients receiving other forms of cancer therapy. Quantitative methods are being used to identify and characterize T lymphocyte populations that combat viral and fungal infections in immunocompromised patients. On a more basic research level, laboratories of the Infectious Diseases Service are performing experimental investigations in animal models of infectious diseases to develop a deeper understanding of immune defenses against invasive microbes.

While infectious diseases are a potential problem for all individuals, the most alarming setting for infection remains the patient with compromised immunity secondary to cancer, cancer therapy, genetic immunodeficiency or infection with the AIDS virus. The Infectious Diseases Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering is dedictated to the care of patients with infections, the training of physicians in the subspecialty of Infectious Diseases, the investigation of infectious disease therapy and the study of immune defense against microbial pathogens.