Thomas P. Loughran, M.D., Director
Dr. Loughran was appointed Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute's (PSHCI) first Director in July 2003 and continues in that role. He holds a primary academic appointment as Professor in the Department of Medicine. As Cancer Institute Director, he leads the scientific, clinical, and operational aspects of the Cancer Institute, having authority to set policy, hire personnel, and assign space.
Dr. Loughran received training at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and served on that faculty for many years. He subsequently led a major program at the Moffitt Cancer Center, from which he was recruited to his current position. Dr. Loughran is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with 231 publications to his credit and has an excellent track record of funding, with continuous federal funding for the past 27 years. Early in his career Dr. Loughran was instrumental in discovering a new hematologic malignancy, which he termed LGL leukemia. His career path is a testament to translational research--with his clinical observations leading to discoveries in his laboratory and his laboratory research contributing to improved clinical treatments. Dr. Loughran currently holds three R01 grants, including the award of a prestigious NIH Director's Provocative Question grant.
As the Cancer Institute Director, Dr. Loughran has full responsibility and authority for assigning both clinical and laboratory space in the Cancer Institute building. Dr. Loughran also has primary responsibility for setting strategic goals for the Cancer Institute. A five-year strategic plan has been implemented under his direction. The Cancer Institute Director also has important responsibilities throughout the College of Medicine and Penn State Hershey Medical Center. This role is significant because of the matrix nature of the Cancer Institute. Dr. Loughran participates as a Member on the following Institutional Leadership Councils: Clinical Chairs, Basic Science Chairs, and Medical Staff Executive Committee; Dean's executive Council and the Board of Governors of the Penn State Hershey Medical Group. Dr. Loughran also participates in the clinical activities of the Cancer Institute as a hematologist/ medical oncologist in the leukemia and lymphoma disease team.
Dr. Loughran's leadership has resulted in considerable progress in PSHCI development since his appointment in July 2003. Dr. Loughran has been able to secure over $247 million in institutional commitment for PSHCI. Importantly, there is an annual ongoing commitment from the College of Medicine and Hershey Medical Center totaling approximately $5.8 million. The new PSHCI facility which opened in 2009 represented a $153 million dollar investment. Dr. Loughran selected the External Advisory Board team whose advice has been instrumental in fostering PSHCI development. Dr. Loughran has been responsible for securing institutional support and then implementing EAB recommendations. Highlights include improvement in organizational capabilities including upgrading of information technology, implementation of a well-designed and functional infrastructure for clinical trials, improvements in management of Shared Resources, and Senior Leadership recruitment.
Dr. Loughran has been effective in recruitment, particularly in assembling a distinguished Senior Leadership team. All of the Senior Leaders (Drs. Belani, El-Bayoumy, El-Deiry, and O'Leary) were recruited externally from NCI-designated centers.
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-designated Cancer Center, Institute for Cancer Prevention (formerly the American Health Foundation [AHF], Valhalla, N.Y.) and co-principal investigator of that NCI-designated Cancer Center from 2001-2004 has given him the scientific and administrative background needed to lead the Division of Basic Research at PSHCI. This division consists of the Molecular Carcinogenesis and Chemoprevention (MCC) Program and the 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 CVI Program. The annual retreats determine appropriate strategies to enhance collaboration between Members of both Programs (MCC and CVI). As described above, Dr. El-Bayoumy provides oversight to the basic Shared Resources of PSHCI. He chairs the monthly meetings of the Shared Resource Facilities Management Committee. He is also responsible for monitoring performances of existing Shared Resources, improving existing services, and developing new Shared Resources to meet the needs of PSHCI investigators.
Dr. El-Bayoumy's research is focused on the prevention of tobacco- and environmentally-related cancers by chemopreventive agents, with emphasis on selenium combined with dietary manipulation. His research has been continuously funded, primarily by the NCI. Dr. El-Bayoumy is the Principal Investigator of an R01 entitled "Nitroaromatics and Breast Cancer." In addition, Dr. El-Bayoumy is a Co-Principal Investigator on another NCI R01 grant: "Targets for Selenium in Prostate Cancer Prevention". To enhance translational research at the PSHCI, Dr. El-Bayoumy successfully competed for a new NCI R01 (2008-2013, score of 2.3%) that included basic and clinical investigators studying the role of selenium on biomarkers of prostate cancer risk in both African Americans and Caucasians. 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.
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 realized early in his career, based on epidemiological findings, that the moon element, selenium, is an important nutrient in cancer prevention. In 1985, his discovery of a novel class of chemo-preventive agents, namely synthetic organoselenium compounds, clearly supported the concept that the form (structure) and not the element per se, is the determining factor in cancer chemo-prevention. He demonstrated that toxicity can be dissociated from chemo-preventive efficacy by tailoring the structure of the organoselenium compounds. Furthermore, following extensive studies in his laboratory, Dr. El-Bayoumy consistently showed that synthetic organoselenium compounds are superior chemo-preventive agents to the historical inorganic forms of selenium, and naturally occurring selenium-containing amino acids (e.g. selenomethionine, selenocysteine). Dr. El-Bayoumy demonstrated multi-organ sensitivity in preclinical investigations against the development of chemically-induced lung, colon, oral cavity, breast, and liver cancers by one of the synthetic organoselenium compounds.
In collaboration with the late Dr. Bandaru Reddy, a leader in nutrition and cancer chemo-prevention, Dr. El-Bayoumy showed that selenium, in combination with a low-fat diet, exerts a greater efficacy than each agent alone, and was superior to that of selenium in combination with a high-fat diet (J. Natl. Cancer Institute 89:506, 1997). In 1996, the late Dr. Larry Clark showed that selenium supplements in the form of selenized-yeast can protect against prostate cancer in men. These exciting findings constituted, in part, the basis for the SELECT intervention trial in the United States to further support the protective role of selenium in the prevention of prostate cancer. In a recent 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, 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). Additionally, Dr. El-Bayoumy spearheaded an initiative that dedicated a whole volume of "Nutrition and Cancer" to the memory of Dr. L Clark that focused on the role of selenium in cancer prevention. (Volume 40, 2001).
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 tested the hypothesis that supplementing the diets of healthy men with selenized yeast, reduces oxidative stress. He also examined whether selenium induced changes in androgen metabolism and reduced PSA levels. Accordingly, he conducted a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial that included an orally administered dose of 240 micrograms of selenium per day in the form of selenized yeast. Briefly, Dr. El-Bayoumy showed for the first time that selenium enhances serum glutathione levels, an endogenous antioxidant known to inhibit oxidative stress and reduces PSA levels without affecting androgen metabolism (Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers & Prevention 4:1459, 2002). In fact, he proposes that glutathione levels should be assessed as a biomarker in addition to those already planned in the SELECT trial. 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). Based on genomic and proteomic approaches employed in his laboratory to further understand the molecular basis of prostate cancer prevention by selenium, Dr. El-Bayoumy identified, for the first time, cofilin-2 and heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein as potential redox-sensitive target proteins of selenium in prostate cancer prevention (Nutrition and Cancer, 2008). Furthermore, he showed for the first time that selenium inhibits NF-KB 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).
In addition to his contribution to the fields of chemical carcinogenesis and cancer chemoprevention, Dr. El-Bayoumy has served on numerous national and international committees and the editorial board of several scientific journals. He has 184 publications including 153 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and 31 book chapters and reviews. Dr. El-Bayoumy is committed to continuing his focus on basic and translational research and to promoting appropriate strategies for cancer prevention.
Wafik El-Deiry, M.D., Ph.D., 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, 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 Univ. 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.
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.
The Associate Director for Research Administration for the Cancer Center is a high-ranking administrative position within the Penn State College of Medicine (COM). Dr. Loughran routinely includes Dr. O'Leary in meetings with Senior COM Leaders. Through his membership on the Cancer Institute Program Leaders Committee, the Scientific Leadership Committee, PSHCI Shared Resources Committee and the Clinical Trials Operations Committee, Dr. O'Leary remains actively involved in strategic planning for the Cancer Center.
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 Dr. Loughran 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 the support of Dr. Loughran and others in preparing applications to foundations and private benefactors; and the preparation of progress reports on gifts.