Apr 24, 2001
Dr. Selina Chen-Kiang, Professor of Pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College and the leader of a research team on multiple myeloma based at New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, was recently named "Researcher of the Year" by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Last year, a team of scientists and physicians led by Dr. Chen-Kiang won a major international competition for a five-year, $7.5 million grant from The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to study the fundamental causes of multiple myeloma, one of the most difficult and intractable cancers.
The grant was distinguished for being a SCOR (Specialized Center of Research) grant, in which, for the first time, a private, non-profit cancer organization was earmarking for the study of blood cancers the kind of research dollars that until now have primarily been available only through the Federal government.
"Every year, 14,000 Americans are diagnosed with multiple myeloma," says Dr. Chen-Kiang. "Among lymphoid malignancies, it is one of the most prevalent and difficult to treat, because virtually nothing is known about the molecular bases of its pathogenesis."
In multiple myeloma, cancerous antibody-producing plasma cells accumulate in the bone, causing painful breakage and eventually leading to death. The goal of the study is to understand how normal plasma cells develop and how the genes that regulate their development and transformation work, in order to formulate new treatments for the disease.
The team of researchers, led by Dr. Chen-Kiang, are divided into four "projects":
In an example of institutional collaboration, Project One is led by Dr. Michel Nussenzweig of The Rockefeller University; it involves studying the development of plasma cells and investigating their malignant transformation.
Project Two, led by Dr. Leif Bergsagel of Weill Cornell Medical College, is exploring the role of gene translocation in the pathogenesis of myeloma.
Project Three, led by Dr. Chen-Kiang, examines how cell division and cell death control the generation of normal plasma cells and the development of myeloma.
Project Four, led by Drs. Joseph Michaeli and Roger Pearse, both of Weill Cornell Medical College, will develop agents that inhibit myeloma-associated bone disease.
The projects are supported by a Clinical Core led by Dr. Michaeli; an Immunopathology Core led by Dr. Daniel Knowles, Chairman of Pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College; and a DNA Core led by Dr. Nussenzweig.
Dr. Michaeli directs the Clinical Myeloma Service of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Weill Cornell Medical Center, which follows approximately 1,000 myeloma patients, with 150-200 new patients seen annually. Thus, large numbers of myeloma patients representing all stages and types are being studied.
For patient information, call the Columbia Weill Cornell Cancer Centers at 1-877-NYP-WELL.