Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

UM/Sylvester Physician-Scientist Receives Award for Groundbreaking Lymphoma Research

12.08.2007

Izidore S. Lossos, M.D., director of the lymphoma program at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate professor of medicine at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine received the 2007 Celgene Young Investigator Award for Achievements in Clinical Hematology Research during a ceremony Saturday, December 8th in Atlanta. This is the sixth year for the prestigious award that is given to a clinician under the age of 45 who has made a significant research contribution in clinical hematology.

Lossos, who was nominated by Joseph D. Rosenblatt, M.D., associate director of clinical and translational research and chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at UM/Sylvester, has been a trailblazer in the field of hematology-oncology research. His mentor from Stanford University School of Medicine, Ronald Levy, M.D., chief of the Division of Oncology, also nominated Lossos, calling him “one of the emerging pioneers in the field of lymphoma diagnosis and therapy.”

This Young Investigator Award is based on his breadth of work which includes a study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004. Lossos and his team of researchers identified the six genes that were the strongest predictors of outcome for patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), the most common form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Recently, the laboratory team headed up by Lossos confirmed applicability of the model using routinely available paraffin specimens from the diagnosis. Using that six-gene model, Lossos and his team at UM/Sylvester have launched a multi-center study to treat DLBCL patients with a new therapy that adds rituximab to standard chemotherapy.

In his lab, Lossos has also been able to clone the Human Germinal Center-Associated Lymphoma (HGAL) gene. In a study detailed in the December issue of the journal Blood, the investigators demonstrated that this protein is involved in lymphocyte motility in response to extracellular signals and researchers hope to identify its function and how it predisposes to better outcomes for DLBCL patients.

Lossos is now working on six clinical trials, including one that is yielding “excellent results” for mantle cell lymphoma, which is not curable. He is trying to pinpoint the mechanisms of lymphoma “to identify what makes certain types of markers good and bad. That may allow us to give specific therapies for these subtypes.” Translating that research to the patient is one of Lossos’ strengths, says Levy. “He continues to break new ground in the analysis of gene expression in lymphoma and in the use of these genes… to predict which patients will be cured with the current therapies and which will not.”

As this year’s winner of the Young Investigator Award, Lossos joins an elite rank of five previous recipients from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, among others. Lossos was chosen by six prominent physicians who are members of the Selection Committee.

Besides the Young Investigator Award, Celgene also handed out a Career Achievement Award and five Future Leaders in Hematology Awards at the annual American Society of Hematology conference in Atlanta. Lossos says the award is “another way of recognizing your contribution and it’s stimulus for further work.”

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