2024 News

Jointly awarded by the Columbia Precision Medicine Initiative (CPMI), the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC), and the Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, the Precision Medicine Pilot Grants underscore Columbia University’s commitment to supporting diverse, cross-disciplinary research targeting the promise of precision medicine. Four teams will receive a one-year $100,000 grant to support their research. One of the projects is being led by DSB principal investigator Chaolin Zhang, PhD along with Harris Wang, PhD.

Read full article on the Precision Medicine news page.

Xuebing Wu, PhD receives Schaefer Research Scholar award for project: “Noncoding translation surveillance in tumor immunogenicity and immunotherapy”.

Wu’s Schaefer study could lead to the development of new cancer vaccines or therapies that improve the effectiveness of immunotherapies.

Immunotherapies are transforming cancer treatment but are ineffective for pancreatic cancer and many other tumors that are adept at hiding from the immune system.

The immune system can easily spot cancers covered with antigens that contain tumor-specific mutations. Tumors with fewer mutations, like pancreatic cancer, can more easily evade detection.

Recent studies have found that tumors can also be covered with “dark” antigens, which do not contain tumor-specific mutations but are generated by aberrant translation of noncoding sequences in cancer cells. Dark antigens, when present in large quantities, can trigger an attack from the immune system. Wu has found clues that cancers that evade the immune system might be suppressing the production of these dark antigens.

Wu will test the hypothesis that pancreatic cancer cells suppress the production of dark antigens by downregulating the BAG6 pathway, a process recently discovered in Wu’s lab, that partially degrades noncoding products and processes them into antigens. If so, he will then determine if increasing BAG6 expression will sensitize tumor cells to immunotherapies.

Read full article on the Irving Medical Center news page. 

New York, NY (Business Wire), March 26, 2024 - The Pershing Square Foundation today announced the seven winners of the “MIND” Prize (Maximizing Innovation in Neuroscience Discovery). Through the Prize, the Foundation strives to change the paradigm of neuroscience research by creating a community of next-frontier thinkers who can uncover a deeper understanding of the brain and cognition. Breakthroughs in basic scientific and translational research will yield critical tools for and knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia, which affect millions of people worldwide.

The MIND Prize will catalyze novel interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work by facilitating collaborations across academic departments and institutions and amongst the academic, biomedical industry, philanthropic, and business communities. The 2024 Prize winners will each receive $750,000, distributed $250,000 per year for three years.

“Cognitive Disease Disorders are holisms—wholes bigger than the sum of their parts—requiring us to apply systems-based thinking across cellular, organismic and behavioral scales,” said Pershing Square Foundation Co-Trustee Neri Oxman, PhD. "The winners of the 2024 MIND Prize embody such system-based thinking in their work, ranging from autoinflammatory early event detection to impacted lipid synthesis mechanisms all the way to ribosome programming and next generation DNA sequencing–based ‘biochemical microscopes.’ We look forward to honoring these contributions.”

Yocelyn Recinos was selected as a recipient of the 2024 Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research in recognition of the high quality and significance of her PhD thesis research in the Coordinated Doctoral Programs in Biomedical Sciences.  Yocelyn received her PhD in January 2024, and her thesis work – “Identifying Critical Regulatory Elements of Alternative Splicing” – was performed in Professor Chaolin Zhang’s lab in the Department of Systems Biology. 

Andrea Califano, Dr, President, Chan Zuckerberg Biohub; Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology, Columbia University, New York, New York

Elected for pioneering research efforts in systems biology dedicated to developing methods that combine computational biology and cancer pharmacology approaches to model cancer cell regulatory networks, and for developing the first genome-wide regulatory model of human cells and novel network-based approach for identifying master regulators of cancer maintenance and tumor progression.

Read full article on the AACR Page