Areas of Research Focus

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An enormous strength of the Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research (DCLCR) is the breadth of world-class expertise of its members.

Our leadership alone represents tremendous translational research talent in lung cancer, collaborating on multidisciplinary research in such areas as:

  • genomic characterization of thoracic cancers
  • innovations in minimally invasive surgery
  • advances in medical therapies

Thoracic Surgery

Thoracic surgeon and scientist David Jones is Co-Director of the Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research. He is Chief of MSK’s Thoracic Service in the Department of Surgery and is the Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Chair in Lung Cancer. He is a pioneer in lung cancer metastasis biology and biomarker development. His research focuses on understanding how lung cancer spreads and the biology and regulation of lung cancer metastasis. The Jones laboratory was the first to identify the importance of the metastasis suppressor gene BRMS1 in lung cancer. Dr. Jones is also interested in ADAR-mediated RNA editing and metastases in lung adenocarcinoma, as well as genomic and pathologic biomarkers that may predict recurrence following surgery to remove early-stage lung cancer. The Jones lab uses patient-derived organoids to study the biology of lung cancer metastases and speed new drug development.

Medical Oncology

Medical oncologist Charles Rudin, Chief of MSK’s Thoracic Oncology Service and co-director of the DCLCR, is a translational researcher and leader in the study of lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies as well as developmental therapy for advanced solid tumors. He has conducted novel studies using patient-derived tumor tissue for preclinical drug testing and has led comprehensive analyses of genomic alterations in small cell lung cancer. Dr. Rudin directs a broad research program of therapeutic study including laboratory-based treatment discovery and innovative early- and late-phase clinical trials.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a new type of cancer treatment. It works by harnessing a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. This approach has dramatically changed the care of people with lung cancer. Immunotherapies are now a routine part of treatment for nearly all people with lung cancer. Yet there remains a critical need for more progress. In particular, it is important to identify the predictors of response to immunotherapy so these treatments can be given more precisely. Combination therapies that broaden the range of people who can benefit from immunotherapy need to be developed. Within the DCLCR, a multidisciplinary team of scientists and doctors tackle these challenges together, to ultimately improve outcomes for people with lung cancer.

Patient-Derived Xenografts

The DCLCR supports the creation, characterization, and distribution of primary patient-derived xenografts (PDXs). PDXs are created by implanting lung cancer tissue obtained from surgery directly into laboratory models, where they can be grown indefinitely. With a broad cross-section of different types of lung cancer PDXs, scientists can test therapies in the earliest stages of development. MSK’s PDX collection is one of the largest and most deeply annotated in the world containing over 300 lung models. These models have been shared with more than a 100 laboratories at MSK and at collaborating institutions. Studies published in several high-impact publications have used these models, which have also been a part of multiple clinical trials in the Thoracic Service at MSK. For more information about the PDX Program, please contact Kelly Clarke at clarkek@mskcc.org.

Patient-Derived Organoids (PDO)

An important part of MSK’s translational lung cancer research program is developing model systems that closely mimic lung cancer in humans. Dr. Jones’s laboratory has established an Institutional Review Board–approved patient-derived organoid (PDO) program for primary lung adenocarcinoma and selected metastatic sites. Using cells from lung adenocarcinoma samples, small tumors are grown in the laboratory. They can then be genetically modified with CRISPR technology and used for in vitro and in vivo experiments. All PDOs are clinically annotated, pathologically confirmed, and genomically profiled using MSK-IMPACT™. Comprehensive PDO models represent a significant advance in scientists’ ability to understand the biologic processes of oncogenesis and metastases. They provide a platform to assess treatment strategies for genomically distinct lung adenocarcinomas. These models have been shared with numerous laboratories at MSK and collaborating institutions. The Jones lab is currently investigating more than 91 lung adenocarcinoma PDOs. For more information about the PDO Program, please contact Yuan Liu, MD, PhD at liuy1@mskcc.org

Thoracic Surgery Oncology Group (TSOG)

In collaboration with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS), the DCLCR supports the Thoracic Surgery Oncology Group (TSOG), which is led by Dr. Jones. Formed in 2017, the group aims to initiate, rapidly accrue patients for, and complete thoracic surgical oncology clinical trials in North America. Such trials can more rapidly advance the care of people with thoracic cancer. TSOG’s mission encompasses lung, esophageal, thymic, and pleural lining cancers, and tumors that have spread to the lungs. The group focuses on phase I/II studies, window of opportunity trials with correlative analyses, intraoperative imaging studies, relevant registry studies, and multidisciplinary study designs. MSK is the coordinating center for the 24 TSOG institutions. For more information on TSOG, please contact Maria Singh, Project Coordinator at singhm1@mskcc.org.

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