Wafik El-Deiry, M.D., Ph.D., Interim Director, Cancer Institute, Associate Director for Translational Research
Wafik S. El-Deiry, M.D., Ph.D., is an American Cancer Society Research Professor, the Rose Dunlap Professor of Medicine, Chief of Hematology/Oncology at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Interim Director and Associate Director for Translational Research at the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. Dr. El-Deiry earned his M.D. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Miami in Florida in 1987 and completed medical residency and oncology fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center in Baltimore, Maryland from 1987-1994. He joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania as an Assistant Professor of Medicine in 1994 and as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator from 1995-2004. He was promoted to Professor in 2005. Dr. El-Deiry was appointed Co-Program Leader of the Radiobiology &Imaging Program in 2004 at Penn to bring complementary expertise in DNA damage signaling and to build bridges between Radiation Oncology and other disciplines such as cancer biology, drug development, and molecular imaging.
Dr. El-Deiry is first author of the most highly cited original research paper ever published in Cell describing the discovery of the CDK inhibitor p21(WAF1) as a p53 target gene in 1993. This discovery provided a molecular mechanism for DNA damage-induced cell cycle checkpoint arrest. As a PI, Dr. El-Deiry has been continuously funded and focused on unraveling apoptotic pathways involved in tumor suppression and therapeutic responses. He has also been active in the areas of non-invasive in vivo imaging and drug discovery. Dr. El-Deiry's lab cloned the pro-apoptotic TRAIL receptor KILLER/DR5, established its regulation by p53, and has been unraveling the signaling pathway including its relevance to stress responses and tumorigenesis in vivo. He has been investigating mechanisms of therapeutic resistance to TRAIL in cancer, and with his colleagues at Penn is conducting the first phase I/II clinical trial in patients with liver cancer to evaluate the safety/efficacy of combining sorafenib & mapatumumab, a TRAIL receptor targeted therapeutic antibody. A highly cited author with nearly 300 publications, and over 25,000 citations, Dr. El-Deiry is recognized for elucidating fundamental mechanisms of cell death and tumor suppression and for developing therapeutic strategies to restore death pathways in cancer. He enjoys teaching, clinical work, serving on review panels, editorial boards (including as Editor-in-Chief of Cancer Biology and Therapy) and training scientists and clinicians.
Dr. El-Deiry is a member of the ASCI, the AACR, the American Academy of Nanomedicine, ASCO and the Interurban Clinical Club, a physician-scientist honor society started by Sir William Osler for which he currently serves as Secretary/Treasurer. In 2008, he became a member of the Association of American Physicians. He was cited as one of "America's Top Oncologists" by the Consumers' Research Council of America in 2008 and 2009. He was named as an American Cancer Society Research Professor as of January 1, 2009. He is the PI of two NIH R01 grants in the areas of hypoxia signaling and drug discovery, in addition to collaborations on a number of other basic and translational awards, industry collaborations, and an NIH N01 subcontract targeting colon cancer chemoprevention.
Dr. El-Deiry is committed and has been actively working towards establishing goals for translational research at Penn State Hershey Medical Center since his arrival in March 2010. This will involve bridging gaps in novel cancer drug development that exist between basic and clinical areas within the PSHCI thus making available better cancer therapies for patients. Dr. El-Deiry formulates the overall direction as well as development of the PSHCI cancer drug portfolio by selecting agents to develop for phase I/II clinical trials. Dr. El-Deiry is working with Program Leaders and cancer center members to bring new biomarkers and therapeutic agents into investigator-initiated clinical trials. He participates and contributes to Program meetings, retreats and the Scientific Leadership on an ongoing basis. He organized a Translational Research Retreat held on June 16, 2010 as well as monthly meetings focused on mature as well as developing translational research efforts. Dr. El-Deiry secures funding and undertake necessary characterization of experimental agents to obtain IND status for experimental agents so they can be evaluated in Phase I/II Clinical trials in the PSHCI clinics. Dr. El-Deiry chairs the PSHCI Space Utilization Committee, the pilot research project program, and the physician recruitment program. He will develop and oversee internal and external corporate interactions that will be necessary to enable novel experimental cancer drugs to be tested in PSHCI clinics. In 2012, Dr. El-Deiry led the successful effort to obtain an American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant which will provide critical support for junior PSHCI investigators. He was appointed Interim Director of the Cancer Institute in August 2013.
Chandra P. Belani, M.D., Deputy Director
Dr. Belani is Deputy Director/Associate Director for Clinical Research of the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute and Miriam Beckner Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology of the Department of Medicine at the Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Belani is responsible for directing clinical investigations across all programs. Dr. Belani serves as the chair of the Scientific Leadership Committee (SLC), the Clinical Trials Oversight Committee (CTOC), and the Data Safety Monitoring Committee (DSMB). He is also an ex officio Member of the Scientific Review Committee (SRC) and provides leadership to the SRC by virtue of his role on the CTOC. In addition, Dr. Belani's role generally encompasses: fostering collaborative efforts in the clinical trials enterprise across clinical areas (e.g., medical oncology/hematology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology, pediatric oncology, gynecologic oncology, and neuro-oncology); heightening the awareness of high-priority clinical trials at Penn State, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and PSHCI; recognizing clinical faculty for participation in at clinical research; playing a key role in recruitment efforts for faculty Members with both broad and specialized clinical research interests; mentoring junior faculty in clinical protocol development and strategizing with them to ensure development of trial designs and treatment regimens that meet the needs of cancer patients in PSHCI's catchment area; interacting with clinical leaders within the College of Medicine, Penn State Hershey Medical Center (PSHMC) and PSHCI to ensure synergy between the clinical research mission of the PSHCI and clinical care; and overseeing the activities and membership of the committees named above and all aspects of the Protocol Review and Monitoring System (PRMS) and the CTO. Working with the institution, Dr. Belani ensures adequate infrastructure and human resources within the CTO. As chair of the SLC, he attends the PSHCI leadership and PSHMC's Clinical Chairs Committee meetings on a regular basis. Dr. Belani also gauges the opportunities and challenges and strategizes on the future direction and growth of the PSHCI.
Chandra Belani, an internationally recognized authority in clinical investigation and novel phase I drug development, joined PSHCI as deputy director in charge of clinical research in 2007. He has organized a strong Clinical Trials Office in partnership with Cindy Naret, CTO Director. He has brought NCI Phase I and II contracts to PSHCI and mentored several junior clinical investigators. Dr. Belani also reorganized and strengthened the Scientific Protocol Review Committee. Under his leadership PSHCI has doubled the clinical trial accrual with a significant overall increase in percentage of patients enrolled in therapeutic trials. Dr. Belani also chairs the Lung Cancer Focus Group and directs the Lung Cancer Clinical-Translational Investigations. All of the PSHCI Shared Cores are overseen by a Senior Leader; Dr. Belani is Senior Leader for the PSHCI Biostatistics Core. He also serves on the Organic Synthesis Oversight Committee, which decides how to allocate the Core's resources. He serves as the Interim Medical Director for the CTO as well. Recruitment of a clinical investigator to serve in that capacity is planned.
In his role as a clinical investigator, Dr. Belani has actively developed new therapies and combined modality approaches utilizing tubulin active agents, platinum compounds and, more recently, targeted agents for lung cancer. Dr. Belani's important studies in the area of lung cancer have resulted in changes in the standard of practice of this common worldwide disease and in his acquiring an international reputation as a thought leader and expert in the field. His publications have appeared in the most prestigious medical journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, JAMA, JBC, CCR and the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Belani conducted the pivotal clinical trial that established the efficacy of the combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. This regimen has now become the most commonly used treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer is the United States. Dr. Belani's clinical trial also resulted in the combination of carboplatin and paclitaxel being used concurrently with radiation in patients with locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer. He performed the initial clinical trials with docetaxel in advanced non-small cell lung cancer and subsequently chaired the international study that resulted in FDA approval of docetaxel in combination with cisplatin for the treatment of advanced lung cancer. More recently, his work has focused on determining the frequency of oncogenic mutations/gene rearrangements in tumors from patients with lung cancer with utilization of next generation sequencing for evaluation and correlation with clinical outcomes. In addition, he is also focusing on development of biomarkers for both early detection of lung cancer and progression utilizing genomic and proteomic techniques. The ultimate goal is to develop personalized therapies with better understanding of the biology of lung cancer.
Karam El-Bayoumy, Ph.D., Associate Director for Basic Research
As the Associate Director for Basic Research Dr. El-Bayoumy provides ongoing consultation, advice, and guidance to basic research activities across all programs within PSHCI. His experience as the director of basic research at the NCI CCSG designated Institute for Cancer Prevention (formerly the American Health Foundation [AHF], Valhalla, N.Y.) and co-principal investigator of that Center from 2001-2004 has given him the scientific and administrative background needed to lead the Division of Basic Research at PSHCI from 2005 to the present. This division consists of the Mechanisms of Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention (MCC) Program and Cancer Virology and Immunology (CVI) Program (Leader: Dr. Isom). As the Associate Director for the Division of Basic Research, Dr. El-Bayoumy is responsible for the following: 1) The formulation of the overall direction and development of the basic research programs; 2) Advising the director of PSHCI on promising areas of basic research and allocation of funds and space; 3) Encouraging multidisciplinary collaboration and translational research; and 4) Providing oversight to the basic science Shared Resources of PSHCI.
Dr. El-Bayoumy participates in the regular research program meetings and annual retreats of the MCC and CVI Programs. Dr. El-Bayoumy also participates in the annual retreats of PSHCI, Experimental Therapeutics, and Cancer Control and Population Health Science Programs. One of the goals of the annual retreats is to determine appropriate strategies to enhance collaboration between Members of all Programs within PSHCI. As described above, Dr. El-Bayoumy provides oversight to the basic Shared Resources of PSHCI. He chairs the meetings of the Shared Resource Facilities Management Committee. He is also responsible for monitoring the performance of existing Shared Resources, improving existing services, and developing new Shared Resources to meet the needs of PSHCI investigators.
The overall goals of Dr. El-Bayoumy's research are to understand the causes of select cancers in the United States and develop the means of their prevention. Traditionally, his laboratory takes leads from epidemiologic observations, examines these leads in the laboratory setting, and then translates the findings into cancer prevention initiatives.
Dr. El-Bayoumy's research is focused on the prevention of tobacco- and environmentally-related cancers by various synthetic and naturally-occurring chemopreventive agents, combined with dietary manipulation. His research has been continuously funded, primarily by the NCI. The most recent funded R01 application (2013-2018) which received 6% will focus on chemoprevention of oral cancer by black raspberry and its components. Dr. El-Bayoumy is actively pursuing studies aimed at developing highly effective chemopreventive agents against tobacco smoke inducing lung cancer and developing biomarkers in noninvasive fluids indicative of cigarette smoking. In a recent pilot study utilizing the isobaric Tags for Relative and Absolute Quantification (iTRAQ) proteomic methodology, his team identified several proteins, including vitamin D binding protein (VDBP), that may serve as candidate biomarkers of diseases resulting from exposure to cigarette smoke in future molecular epidemiological studies (J. Proteome Res. 10:1151-1159, 2011). In a follow-up study using a large sample size (African American [AA] and European American [EA] [N = 116], smokers matched to nonsmokers on age, race/ethnicity, and sex , we found that smoking was associated with lower VDBP concentration among AA but not EA. Dr. El-Bayoumy is a collaborator on an R01 entitled "Targeting Leukemia Stem Cells with Dietary Selenium." To enhance translational research at the PSHCI, Dr. El-Bayoumy was funded by an NCI R01 (2008-2013, score of 2.3%) that included basic and clinical investigators studying the role of different forms of selenium on biomarkers of prostate cancer risk in both African Americans and Caucasians. This is the only clinical trial in the USA and around the world aimed at comparing these two different forms of selenium on biomarkers of prostate cancer risk.
In a commentary (Nut. Cancer 2009), and a review (Cancer Research 2009), Dr. El-Bayoumy provided some hypotheses to rationalize the lack of effect of selenomethionine in the SELECT study. In his NCI R01 grant mentioned above, he will study both selenomethionine and selenium-enriched yeast – the form used in Clark's trial that inhibited prostate cancer – on biomarkers of prostate cancer risk. Because of Clark's findings and Dr. El-Bayoumy's discovery of novel chemopreventive selenium compounds, both scientists were featured on the cover of Cancer Research (Volume 59, 1999).
The mechanism responsible for the protective role of selenium against the development of prostate cancer remains to be determined. Towards this end, Dr. El-Bayoumy showed for the first time that selenium in the form of selenized yeast enhances serum glutathione levels, an endogenous antioxidant known to inhibit oxidative stress (Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers & Prevention 4:1459, 2002). More recently, using a proteomic approach, he demonstrated that selenium inhibits serum a-1 antitrypsin in men (a protein known to be elevated in prostate cancer patients; it is more elevated in African American men than Caucasians and is positively correlated with PSA levels). This novel finding suggests the use of a-1 antitrypsin as a biomarker, in addition to PSA, to monitor disease progression and cancer chemoprevention of the prostate (Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 19:2332, 2010). Furthermore, he showed for the first time that selenium inhibits NF-¿B via its covalent binding to Cysteine – S62 of the protein; this was confirmed by MALDI/TOF/TOF analysis and further supported by computer modeling (Cancer Res. 2007). Dr. El-Bayoumy was also the first to introduce the term "molecular chemoprevention" as a guiding principle in the design of future clinical intervention chemoprevention trials (Mutation Res. 591, 224, 2005).
Furthermore, he is a Co-Principal Investigator (Dr. Andrea Manni, PI) on a five year (2008-2013) Susan G. Komen (Promise Grant) to study the role of low dose antiestrogens in combination with Omega-3 fatty acids in the chemoprevention of breast cancer. The Susan G. Komen Promise grants were very competitive with only six of the 71 applications funded. In fact, on September 25, 2012, Dr. El-Bayoumy and Dr. Manni (Multiple PI) submitted a Program Project to the NCI aimed at understanding the role of omega-3 fatty acid, dietary energy restriction and antiestrogens in the prevention of breast cancer; proposed studies include basic mechanistic investigations in animals and application in human clinical trials.
In addition to his contribution to the fields of carcinogenesis and cancer chemoprevention, Dr. El-Bayoumy has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. WHO and IARC) and the editorial board of several scientific journals. He has 211 publications including 177 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and 34 book chapters and reviews. Dr. El-Bayoumy is committed to continuing his focus on basic and translational research and promoting appropriate strategies for cancer prevention and mentoring the next generation of cancer researchers.
Thomas J. O'Leary, Ph.D., Associate Director Research Administration
Dr. O'Leary has more than 25 years of experience as a research administrator at an NCI-designated Cancer Center. From 1984 through June 2009, he served as the administrator of the University of Virginia Cancer Center. During that time he worked for three Center Directors and was responsible for the initial CCSG submission and four successful competing renewals of the University of Virginia CCSG. The Administration Core he directed received scores of "Outstanding" in the last three competitive renewals. Dr. O'Leary's academic training is in medical sociology, with an emphasis on health planning and research methodology. Since 1987, he has been a member of the Cancer Center Administrators Forum (CCAF), the national organization of administrators of NCI-designated cancer centers. As a member of the CCAF, he has given presentations on Shared Cores, strategies for promoting clinical trials and preparation of CCSG applications. From 1998-2002, he served on the four-person Executive Committee of this organization. Dr. O'Leary has also been an active participant in the American Association of Cancer Institutes and was on the program planning committee for the national meeting in 2008-09. Dr. O'Leary has served as an external consultant for several NCI -designated Cancer Centers including: Wake Forest, University of California-Irvine, University of Florida, University of Colorado and Dan Duncan Baylor University Cancer Center. His many years of experience collaborating with other NCI Cancer Center Administrators and NCI Cancer Center staff have been very useful in the development of PSHCI.
Dr. O'Leary is responsible for coordinating research activities; providing oversight of shared resources preparation and monitoring of the Cancer Center budget; acquisition of equipment and supplies; employee relations; committee organization; management of grants and contracts; hiring and supervision of supporting staff; supervision of data collection and analysis; and supervision of computer facilities. He assists the PSHCI Director and other PSHCI administrators in the recruitment of new faculty. His other responsibilities include administration of other research programs; the Commonwealth Tobacco Research Settlement Projects; the National Functional Genomics Center, oversight of professional and public education programs; community outreach; liaisons with volunteer organizations such as the American Cancer Society; development activities, including preparation of applications to foundations and private benefactors; and the preparation of progress reports on gifts.
Roger T. Anderson, Ph.D., Associate Director for Population Science
As Associate Director for Population Science, Dr. Anderson provides strategic program oversight, research consultation and collaboration necessary to advance interdisciplinary research across the cancer control continuum within PSHCI: from prevention to survivorship. This includes: 1) Formulating the direction and development of a broad-based cancer control research program that addresses the diverse PSHCI catchment area and community needs; 2) Effectively leverage and align the PSU institutional and faculty research base to target modifiable cancer risk, improve methods for access to optimal cancer detection, treatment and survivorship support within populations at local, regional, and national levels; 3) Promote inter-programmatic collaboration with Population Science Research Program members by facilitating assessments of patient-centered data, such as self-report information and clinical measurement of toxicity and other patient-level attributes; 4) Provide oversight to an existing Shared Resources supporting population and community cancer research needs: the Community Sciences and Health Outcomes Core (CSHO).
Current areas of programmatic research in CCPH include tobacco control (prevention and cessation); social determinants of cancer disparities in underserved regions of Appalachia and low income communities; and promoting optimal cancer survivorship through community-based care such as involving patient navigation, community health worker strategies, and personal mobile technology platforms or devices. The recent Tobacco Centers for Regulatory Science (TCOR) U01 program award by FDA and NIH to Penn State led by cancer control program members from both Hershey and University Park campuses demonstrates the strong influence that our PSHCI members can exert on cancer control by developing team-based scientific evidence necessary to guide policy and regulation of nicotine with the goal of reducing tobacco addiction and use, the single most important cancer attributable risk factor in populations.
Dr. Anderson leads the Population Science research development through the three strategic research areas above, and by attending strategic MCC and CVI Program meetings to facilitate interdisciplinary research involving population science topics. Dr. Anderson participates in the planning annual retreats of PSHCI to further collaboration between members of all research Programs, and is responsible for monitoring the performance of CSHO Shared Resources, improving existing services, and developing new CCPH shared resources to meet the evolving needs of PSHCI investigators.
Dr. Anderson is a tenured professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Chief of the Division of Health Services and Behavioral Research in the College of Medicine. He received his doctoral training (Ph.D) in 1992 from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health in the field of public health. He leads a research team focused on understanding and reducing cancer disparities and the patient, health systems and community level. His research funding covering the topics of health disparities and optimal disease management spans more than 25 years, including NIH R01, R21, and R03 awards in addition to foundation grant support such as the American Cancer Society, and Susan G Komen Foundation awards. His work has been funded with individual grants or contracts, training grants, and large multi-institutional or national projects. He has recently led or collaborated on research that has sought to identify key determinants of breast and colorectal cancer risk and disparities in a large region of rural Appalachia, and served as Steering Committee chair of a large multi-site CDC cooperative agreement focused on breast and prostate cancer patterns of care (POC-2). Examples of his team-based collaboration include the finding of a significant lag in the decline of breast cancer mortality in rural Appalachia over the last decade versus national patterns; the finding of large excess risk for later-stage breast tumors and poorer survival in Appalachia that can be directly linked to community and contextual characteristics that influence access to preventive services such as physician supply, economic hardship, and the geographic availability of screening mammography centers. In a related line of research his team has identified modifiable gaps in cancer care among underserved patients, finding significant barriers to use and adherence to hormonal therapies prescribed to reduce breast cancer recurrence, radiation therapy following breast conserving surgery, and lymph node assessments with colorectal cancers. The latter research line seeks to identify health system characteristics and care coordination leverage points as targets for interventions. In a separate research emphasis Dr. Anderson has advanced the collection and evaluation of data on cancer treatment benefit and patient needs though: 1) the development and validation of patient self-report measures such as treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection (HCV-PRO), assessing toxicity and impacts from multi-kinase inhibitor therapies; 2) selection and analysis of patient-reported outcome measures in therapeutic trials; and 3) promoting database methods to study cancer recurrence in health claims and administrative data. He has participated as a member of the CALGB Quality of Life and Health Economics group, and in ASCO as a course developer on cancer disparities.
In the area of student training in cancer control and population health, Dr. Anderson developed and co-leads a successful predoctoral training program on breast cancer disparities in Appalachia funded by the Susan G Komen Foundation. This program now in its competitive renewal phase continues to recruit and train future scholars and bridges the University Park and Hershey PSU campuses to reduce cancer disparities. He is the founding Director of the PSU MPH program which currently trains over 40 graduate students to learn and apply public health methods to disease. Dr. Anderson has recently developed a pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training program and Core for our funded U01 Tobacco Centers for Regulatory Science (TCOR) program supported by FDA and NCI funds to advance cancer risk reduction at the national policy level.
In addition to his contribution to the cancer control population health program at PSHCI, Dr. Anderson has served on numerous national and international scientific review committees and the editorial boards of scientific journals. He has over 115 peer reviewed manuscripts, 15 book chapters and 1 edited book.