MSK Awards & Appointments July 2020


Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) announces the following awards and appointments:

The Pershing Square Foundation Awards $3 Million to SARS-CoV-2 Research Projects

The Pershing Square Foundation announced that it has awarded $3 million to 19 recipients at 10 academic research institutions conducting research related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19). The Foundation aims to support leaders in science and research to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of six MSK researchers and physician-scientists were named as recipients of this award. Funding began July 1, 2020 and will end on July 1, 2021.

Benjamin Greenbaum, PhD, Associate Attending in Computational Oncology and Program Director of Computational Immuno-Oncology; Matthew Hellmann, MD, medical oncologist; and Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD, Lloyd J. Old/Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Chair in Clinical Investigation; Chief, Immuno-Oncology Service; Director, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at MSK; Associate Director, Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy, were recognized for their project titled “Etiology and Immune Repertoire Evolution in SARS-CoV-2 in Patients Treated with Checkpoint Blockade Immunotherapies.” They received $125,000 in funding.

Christine Mayr, MD, PhD, molecular and cell biologist at Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI), was recognized for her project titled “A role for RNA as checkpoint for protein complex assembly.” Dr. Mayr received $100,000 in funding.

Santosha Vardhana, MD, PhD, Assistant Attending in the Department of Medicine, and Omar Abdel-Wahab, MD, Associate Attending in the Department of Medicine and Director of the MSK Center for Hematologic Malignancies, were recognized for the project titled “Leveraging cancer-driven immune dysregulation to understand and enhance anti-COVID-19 immunity.” They received $250,000 in funding.

Anthony Daniyan, Tracy-Ann Moo, Daniel Prince, and Melody Smith Named Winners of MSK’s 2020 Internal Diversity Enhancement Award

MSK’s Office of Diversity Programs in Clinical Care, Research, and Training (ODP) and the Office of Faculty Development (OFD) announced the winners of the 2020 Internal Diversity Enhancement Award (IDEA), an MSK program designed to increase faculty diversity in research. This year’s award recipients are: Anthony Daniyan, MD, Assistant Attending on MSK’s Leukemia Service; Tracy-Ann Moo, MD, Assistant Attending on MSK’s Breast Service; Daniel Prince, MD, MPH, Assistant Attending on MSK’s Orthopedics Service; and Melody Smith, MD, Assistant Attending on MSK’s Adult Bone Marrow Transplant Service.

The IDEA program was established in 2017 by the ODP and the OFD to provide one-year support, in the amount of $50,000, to faculty from underrepresented groups in oncology research to engage in clinical or translational investigations. MSK faculty members in any track with the rank of Instructor, Assistant Attending/Assistant Member, or Associate Attending/Associate Member are eligible to apply. 

Dr. Daniyan’s research project is titled “Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell Therapy for Acute Myeloid Leukemia”; Dr. Smith’s research project is titled “Investigating Immunophenotype and Metabolism of TCR KO Donor CD19-Targeted Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells”; and Dr. Prince’s research project is titled “Novel Use of Radiomic Characterization of Osteosarcoma to Aid in Prediction of Prognosis and High Precision Surgical Management.”

Dr. Moo was granted continued support for her project, “A Pilot Study of an Opioid-Free Pain-Control Regimen for Patients Undergoing Lumpectomy and Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy for Invasive Breast Cancer,” for which she won the 2019 IDEA.

Prior IDEA winners include Yolanda Bryce, MD; Maria Carlo, MD; Parastoo Dahi, MD; Doris Ponce, MD; and Richard Phillips, MD, PhD.

Kravis Women in Science Endeavor Fellowship Grants

MSK announced the inaugural winners of the 2020 Marie-Josée Kravis Women in Science Endeavor (WiSE) fellowship grants. The winners were recognized at the virtual Kravis WiSE Symposium on July 8, 2020.

The winner of the Kravis WiSE Graduate Fellowship grant is Sahana Rao, a fourth-year PhD student in the Tri-Institutional (Tri-I) Chemical Biology Program and member of the Daniel Bachovchin Lab. Her research focuses on inflammasomes, which detect pathogens or danger signals and kill the pathogen or infected body cell by causing it to break apart. She studies the NLRP1 inflammasome (the first to be discovered), how it is activated, and what specific danger signals trigger it. As part of her grant, she will receive a three-year stipend and fringe benefits.

The winners of the Kravis WiSE Postdoctoral Fellowship grants are Linde Miles, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program and member of the Ross Levine Lab, and Mohita Tagore, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program at the Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI) and a member of the Richard White Lab. Dr. Miles’s research focuses on acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and how AML mutations contribute to disease progression. Dr. Tagore studies how cells communicate with each other, especially within the context of melanoma.

Alexander Drilon Is Named Chief of the Early Drug Development Service

Alexander Drilon, MD

Alexander Drilon, MD, was recently appointed as MSK’s newest Chief of the Early Drug Development (EDD) Service in the Division of Solid Tumor Oncology. He assumed his new role on June 29, 2020. As Chief of the EDD, he will oversee ongoing strategic goals to expand the clinical and research activities in early phase drug development that supports both our core scientific and clinical mission while maintaining the highest standard of care at MSK.

Frank Licciardi Receives United Hospital Fund’s Excellence in Health Care Award

Frank Licciardi

Frank Licciardi, Chair Emeritus of MSK’s Patient and Family Advisory Council for Quality (PFACQ), was named on the United Hospital Fund’s (UHF) 2020 Excellence in Health Care Award honoree list. Mr. Licciardi is one of 63 recipients, consisting of quality improvement leaders at 57 hospital systems, long-term care facilities, homecare organizations, and independent practice associations across the metropolitan region. Mr. Licciardi is the first patient advocate from any healthcare facility to receive this award.

The honorees were recognized for their efforts to improve quality of care, patient safety, and the patient experience at the UHF’s second annual Tribute to Excellence in Health Care event, which was held virtually on July 13, 2020.

As a relatively young man, Mr. Licciardi was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer and underwent intensive treatment at MSK. After completing treatment, he began volunteering at MSK as part of the Patient-to-Patient counseling program. He then helped with the development of PFACQ and was named Chair in 2018. In addition to his role as Chair Emeritus, he serves on the Hospital Quality Assurance Committee and Data Governance Committee and was an inaugural member of the Teleoncology Steering Committee.

Francine Osikowicz Receives New York State Society of Physician Assistants (NYSSPA) 2020 Physician Assistant (PA) of the Year Award


Francine Osikowicz, PA-C

Francine Osikowicz, PA-C, Physician Assistant at MSK, was selected for the NYSSPA’s annual PA of the Year Award for 2020. Ms. Osikowicz is the first PA from MSK to be selected for this award. She will be recognized at the NYSSPA’s virtual conference and gala taking place October 16-18, 2020.

Each year, NYSSPA seeks to highlight exemplary PAs who are dedicated to advancing the PA profession and who demonstrate excellence beyond pure intellectual skills and productivity. Nominees from across the state are considered based on the following factors: service, integrity, and inspiration. Ms. Osikowicz was nominated by her colleagues on the PA Council, as she embodies these three ideals.

Monique Tarrant Is Named to Trinity College’s “50 for the Next 50” Honor List

Monique Tarrant, MPH, MSN, RN, AGCNS

Monique Tarrant, MPH, MSN, RN, AGCNS, Clinical Nurse Specialist in MSK’s Department of Radiation Oncology, was named to Trinity College’s “50 for the Next 50” honoree list, an initiative that highlights 50 exemplary women who will have a lasting impact on the future of Trinity College, located in Hartford, Connecticut. This honor comes as part of Women at the Summit, the college’s ongoing commemoration of the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Trinity.