Raymond J. Hohl, M.D., Ph.D., Director
Dr. Hohl is the Director of Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute and Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology. Dr. Hohl received his M.D. from Rush Medical College, Rush University, and a Ph.D. in pharmacology from Rush University. After completing a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at the University of Chicago, he joined the faculty of the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 1991 as an assistant professor of internal medicine. He was promoted to associate professor of internal medicine and pharmacology in 1997 and to full professor in 2002. At Iowa, Dr. Hohl has held numerous leadership and administrative roles including serving as director of the division of hematology, oncology, and blood and marrow transplantation, and director of the fellowship program in hematology and oncology. His research leadership roles have been in both the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of Iowa's Institute for Clinical and Translational Science. His patient care has spanned the full breadth of hematology and medical oncology as well as clinical pharmacology.
Dr. Hohl's research focuses on discovery and development of novel anti-cancer therapies, particularly those related to the interactions between cholesterol biosynthesis pathways and the malignant phenotype. His work ranges from novel chemistry to basic laboratory studies to innovative human clinical trials. His research has been well-supported by grants from the NIH, Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, Department of Defense, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, American Institute for Cancer Research, and other sources; in addition, he has been a principal investigator for many investigator-initiated clinical trials. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and reviews and 12 book chapters, and served as associate editor for the text Pharmacology and Therapeutics: Principles to Practice. A reviewer for numerous journals, he currently serves as associate editor for the Nature journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and is on the editorial advisory board of Lipids. Dr. Hohl is an inventor for two key patents related to his research and is co-founder of a biotechnology company that is advancing these discoveries to human therapies. He has served in prominent leadership roles in professional groups including the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (board of directors, 2003-2006; president, 2010-2011) and the Iowa Oncology Society (vice president, 2004-2006; president, 2006-2008). Dr. Hohl has also served on review panels and committees for the NIH and other organizations.
In addition to his research, clinical and administrative accomplishments, Dr. Hohl has extensive experience teaching graduate, medical, and other health sciences students in both classroom and clinical settings. He has mentored junior faculty and supervised numerous pharmacology and molecular biology PhD students, as well as post-doctoral researchers and clinical fellows and more than 20 undergraduate students participating in summer research programs.
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.