Dr. Cordon-Cardo to Highlight Stem Cell Research in GU Tumors during Keynote Address

With more than 25 years of molecular pathology research experience, several pioneering discoveries, and extensive publications in the biology of genitourinary (GU) malignancies, Carlos Cordon- Cardo, MD, PhD, of Columbia University, has become an internationally recognized figure in the field of GU cancer research.

During today’s keynote address, “Stem Cells and Tumorigenesis in GU Tumors,” Dr. Cordon-Cardo will highlight stem cell research exploring tumorigenesis and tumor regrowth in GU cancers, and he will show how this research aids the development of novel predictive assays as well as new agents and treatment regimens. Recent research from his laboratory has focused on adult stem cells and cancer, and studies have shown that some tumors originate from differentiation stages in stem cell fate and development.

“Dr. Cordon-Cardo’s research has focused on a systems pathology platform that facilitates stem cell characterization, and he has focused on stem cells seen in prostate and bladder cancer,” said 2011 GU Cancers Symposium Steering Committee Chair Dean F. Bajorin, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). “It is anticipated that a better understanding of stem cell biology in GU malignancies will ultimately lead to more directed and improved therapeutic intervention for these diseases.”

Previous to his extensive career in molecular pathology, Dr. Cordon-Cardo received his medical degree from the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, in 1980, and his doctorate in Cell Biology and Genetics from Cornell University Medical College in 1985. He then went on to work for MSKCC for the next 24 years.

During his time at MSKCC, Dr. Cordon-Cardo made many important discoveries, including uncovering that the multidrug resistance gene P-glycoprotein is expressed by endothelial cells corresponding to blood– tissue barriers. He and his colleagues were also among the first to identify alterations of the retinoblastoma protein pRB in adult tumors and to discover the relevance of tumor suppressor genes p16 and p27 in bladder cancer and PTEN in bladder and prostate cancer.

“He was the first investigator to identify genetically distinct pathways for superficial and muscle-invasive bladder cancers,” said Dr. Bajorin. “The underpinnings for these pathways were based on over a decade of studies elucidating genetic perturbations seen in low and high-grade tumors. These pathways now serve as a template for modern studies.”

Dr. Cordon-Cardo went on to create and serve as inaugural Director of the Division of Molecular Pathology in the Department of Pathology at MSKCC. He continued to collaborate with his lab in researching the clinical implications of detecting TP53 and retinoblastoma alterations in relation to disease progression and death due to several solid tumors such as bladder cancer.

“I had the opportunity to work with [Dr. Cordon-Cardo] in characterizing the associations between molecular markers identified in his lab and clinical outcomes in patients with bladder cancer,” Dr. Bajorin said. “This work was highly collaborative and provided the basis for our improved understanding of the biology of bladder cancer.”

More recently, Dr. Cordon-Cardo’s research has been focused on androgen receptor overexpression in prostate cancer, as well as on hormone therapy resistance. Using bladder cancer and sarcomas, his lab is also studying the development of animal models for loss of function of specific pathways by targeted gene disruption or “knock-out” approaches.

In 2006, Dr. Cordon-Cardo took a position as Vice Chair and Professor of Pathology at Columbia University and Associate Director for Infrastructure at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. In addition to his many accomplishments and discoveries in cancer research, Dr. Cordon-Cardo holds other distinguished positions such as Translational Chair of the GU Section of the Southwest Oncology Group and member of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centers for Urologic Tumors. He has also been named a Highly Cited Researcher in the Clinical Medicine Category by the Institute of Scientific Information. In addition to these appointments, Dr. Cordon-Cardo serves as Principal Investigator on many National Cancer Institute grants. “Dr. Cordon-Cardo has had an outstanding career in molecular pathology,” said Dr. Bajorin. “His research has always been at the leading edge of GU oncology research.”

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