Research News Archive

Surgeon-Scientist Dr. Rohit Chandwani Joins Weill Cornell Medicine and CADC to Focus on Pancreatic Cancer

July 11, 2017

The Center for Advanced Digestive Care recently welcomed Dr. Rohit Chandwani to its membership in June of 2017. An Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine and an Assistant Attending Surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Chandwani is a board-certified surgical oncologist and physician-scientist with a specific interest in pancreatic cancer. He also joins the Meyer Cancer Center as a member of the Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics program and is also jointly appointed in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.

Dr. Chandwani leads the Laboratory of Cancer Epigenetics in the Department of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine. Specifically, “epigenetics” describes the range of factors, including location, packaging, and interacting proteins that can affect a gene’s expression without changes to its actual DNA sequence.

The current focus of his research centers on the epigenetic dysregulation that occurs in pancreatic cancer. New evidence shows the most common type of pancreatic cancer, once thought to derive from ductal cells in the pancreas, actually comes from acinar cells that develop ductal-type characteristics while maintaining the DNA of an acinar cell. This process is known as acinar-ductal metaplasia (ADM), and is theorized by Dr. Chandwani to be caused by epigenetic plasticity.

In 2016, Dr. Chandwani received a research grant jointly awarded by the American Association of Cancer Research and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to study the epigenetic interplay of DNA and proteins that leads to ADM, as well as the epigenetic changes that create turn pancreatic cells into tumors. Lastly, Dr. Chandwani and his research team will explore the mutations to enzymes that modify the epigenome to determine if these proteins can be targeted in order to prevent cells from turning cancerous. 

While his time will be primarily devoted to research, Dr. Chandwani will maintain a clinical surgical practice as well as a part of the Section of Liver Transplantation and Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery, focusing on pancreatic cancer, metastatic colon cancer, and other pancreatobiliary disorders. Practice locations, accepted insurance and other information can be found on his clinical profile.

A New York native, Dr. Chandwani completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University, receiving a degree in economics before entering medical school at Yale University. He completed his residency training at Columbia University Medical Center while also completing his PhD at The Rockefeller University, where he studied chromatin biology in the immune system. Dr. Chandwani then joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as a fellow in surgical oncology and later Chief Fellow for the Department of Surgery and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Steven D. Leach before joining the faculty at Weill Cornell Medicine.