The Silver MPN Center
The cornerstone of CR&T’s research strategy is our commitment to the Richard T. Silver, MD Myeloproliferative Neoplasm (MPN) Center at Weill Cornell Medicine. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and friends, CR&T is providing a multi-year, $6.5 million grant to this translational research and treatment center, which was officially dedicated in February 2014. Our support is key to building and sustaining a world-class center that focuses exclusively on these rare blood cancers, which can cause serious – and sometimes life-threatening – complications.
The Center is led by Director Dr. Andrew Schafer, formerly the chairman of the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, currently a professor of medicine there, and a member of CR&T’s Medical Advisory Board. A board-certified hematologist and oncologist, Dr. Schafer is engaged in pioneering research activities aimed at treating and curing MPNs.
Dr. Joseph M. Scandura, MD, PhD is the Center’s Scientific Director, brought on with financial support from CR&T. Dr. Scandura, who also has appointments in the Divisions of Hematology-Oncology and Regenerative Medicine of the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, has made major contributions to our understanding of hematopoietic stem cell biology, blood cancers and blood coagulation. He is a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar, and his research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, and by the Empire State Stem Cell Board, the Starr Foundation Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative, and the Taub Foundation, as well as by CR&T.
Dr. Scandura received a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and an MS in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. He then completed combined MD/PhD training in Biochemistry at Temple University in 1977. Dr. Scandura was a resident in internal medicine on the research track at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and then completed a Fellowship in Medical Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). In 2003, he joined the Leukemia Service at MSKCC, where he conducted laboratory research while serving as an inpatient attending physician and maintaining an outpatient clinic treating MPNs and other blood cancers. In 2006, Dr. Scandura was recruited to the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Weill Cornell Medicine, where he leads a laboratory group studying blood formation and conducts clinical research to improve treatment of blood cancers. Dr. Scandura maintains an ambulatory clinic treating MPNs and other myeloid neoplasms and also serves as attending physician on the inpatient clinical services for the Division.
The Center’s namesake and Director Emeritus, Dr. Richard T. Silver, is an active collaborator with Drs. Scandura and Schafer. At the forefront of clinical cancer research since 1958, when he coauthored a groundbreaking paper that reported the first significant success in achieving remissions in acute leukemia. Dr. Silver has established himself as a leading authority on clinical cancer research and is the face of CR&T, which he founded a decade later.
A Unique Approach to Cancer Care
People with MPNs are at risk for a wide range of complications, from itching, joint pain and gout to heart attack and stroke. Effective treatment demands a multi-disciplinary approach – the reason why the Silver Center is uniquely positioned to be the leader in the care of these patients. In addition to benefiting from the experience of leading MPN experts, patients have ready access to prominent Weill Cornell specialists in cardiology, rheumatology, dermatology and other key fields.
As Dr. Scandura explains, this sets the Silver MPN Center apart from centers that are devoted solely to cancer care: “Free-standing cancer centers must refer patients to specialists at other institutions. In contrast, the Silver Center provides continuous, coordinated care for a large number of MPN patients. This integrated approach is also the springboard for new studies that will enable researchers and clinicians to better understand MPN complications and improve treatment.”
Teaming up for Results
The Center has access to the excellent researchers engaged in other areas of Weill Cornell and has initiated shared research meetings and multi-disciplinary collaborations. The Center’s leaders also partner with pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials of potential new therapies. In order to support these efforts, CR&T funds have been used to create an MPN clinical research team focused on regulatory and data management at the Center. Importantly, CR&T funding has enabled the Center to build a sophisticated clinical informatics infrastructure and database that enables investigators to collect, mine, and apply patient data in the most effective way possible, along with an extensive biorepository for MPN patient specimens.
Building on Success
CR&T’s ongoing support provides seed money that allows the Center to test new ideas and theories. It also enables the Directors to recruit and retain essential staff and to build infrastructure. This, in turn, attracts additional funding from other sources, who are drawn by the Center’s current capabilities and its growth potential. Indeed, in the first year of his appointment, Dr. Scandura was able to bring in an additional $900,000 in grant funding to help support new and ongoing laboratory studies of MPN biology.
To read about the research projects that the Center has funded, please visit CR&T’s Research Updates section.