Areas of Research Focus

An enormous strength of the Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research 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. At the Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research, a multidisciplinary team of scientists and doctors tackle these challenges together, to ultimately improve outcomes for people with lung cancer.

Patient-Derived Xenografts

The Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research 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. These models have been used in more than a dozen laboratories. 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.

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. The Jones lab is currently investigating more than 75 lung adenocarcinoma PDOs.

Thoracic Surgery Oncology Group

In collaboration with the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller Center for Lung Cancer Research 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 nine TSOG institutions. For more information on TSOG, contact Maria Singh, Project Coordinator at singhm1@mskcc.org.

Clinical Trials Currently Open for Enrollment

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