Dr. Virginia Pascual Named Director of the Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children’s Health

NEW YORK (March 3, 2017) — Dr. Virginia Pascual, a renowned physician-scientist specializing in pediatric rheumatology, has been appointed the founding Gale and Ira Drukier Director of the Gale and Ira Drukier Institute for Children’s Health, effective April 1.

Established in 2014 with a $25 million gift from Gale and Ira Drukier, the Drukier Institute for Children’s Health is a cross-disciplinary research hub dedicated to understanding the underlying causes of diseases that are devastating to children. As director, Dr. Pascual will lead a team of esteemed scientists whose innovative research strives to end pediatric diseases caused by an altered immune system. While classically these include allergy, infections, autoimmunity and immune deficiencies, there is increasing recognition of the fundamental role that the immune system plays in conditions spanning from cancer to autism. She will also forge critical collaborations with Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian’s superior pediatric clinical care programs to ensure that research breakthroughs at the Drukier Institute can be rapidly translated into the most advanced therapies for patients.

Dr. Pascual comes from the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, part of the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, where she was director of the Center for Inflammation & Genomic Medicine. As a pediatric rheumatologist interested in basic and translational immunology, Dr. Pascual investigates pediatric inflammatory and autoimmune diseases with the goal of translating laboratory findings into therapeutic targets and useful biomarkers. Her lab has recently developed a personalized approach to identify molecular drivers of disease activity in pediatric lupus patients, allowing her team to classify patients into molecular subgroups. This research advance could lead to improved clinical trials for the disease.

“Dr. Pascual has worked tirelessly on behalf of children’s health, and we are thrilled that she is bringing her expertise as both a scientist and a physician to Weill Cornell Medicine,” said Dr. Augustine M.K. Choi, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medicine. “Her leadership and vision will undoubtedly attract the brightest minds in pediatric research and help grow the Drukier Institute into a top-tier scientific research hub. Under her leadership and through the pursuit of innovative treatments and therapies, the Drukier Institute can build a brighter future for children suffering from disease.”

“Weill Cornell Medicine has cultivated a wonderful environment for scientific collaboration, which will offer me a tremendous opportunity to translate high-impact pediatric research into the most advanced treatments for our young patients,” said Dr. Pascual, who was recruited to Weill Cornell Medicine as the Ronay A. Menschel Professor of Pediatrics. “There is a great commitment from Weill Cornell Medicine and its Department of Pediatrics to invest in pediatric translational research. Coming here and getting the opportunity to develop and advance the goals of the Drukier Institute is truly the culmination of my career.”

Under Dr. Pascual’s leadership, investigators at the Drukier Institute will use cutting-edge scientific approaches — including precision medicine — to better understand the molecular and genetic drivers of pediatric diseases. Dr. Pascual will recruit a team of top-tier investigators, augmenting the team of physician-scientists already at Weill Cornell Medicine, who will focus on basic discovery efforts and translate their research advances into new treatments and therapies that can immediately benefit children.

“Dr. Pascual has committed her career to children’s health research,” said Dr. Gerald M. Loughlin, the Nancy C. Paduano Professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medicine, and pediatrician-in-chief at the Phyllis and David Komansky Center for Children’s Health at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “She has focused her innovative research on pediatric rheumatology, thereby greatly advancing the field. In addition, she understands the need for continuing fundamental research in the area of children’s health and disease, and is well-positioned to lead the Drukier Institute. Researchers from the Department of Pediatrics look forward to developing new collaborations with her in the clinical, translational and basic science arenas.”

Collaboration is of particular importance to Dr. Pascual. She hopes to forge new partnerships and research ventures with a variety of Weill Cornell Medicine’s academic departments and multi-disciplinary institutes, such as the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, the Caryl and Israel Englander Institute for Precision Medicine, the Jill Roberts Institute for Research in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and the HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Institute for Computational Biomedicine.

About Dr. Virginia Pascual

Board-certified in pediatrics and pediatric rheumatology, Dr. Pascual has won many awards in her field, including the Senior Rheumatology Scholar Award from the American College of Rheumatology, a Kirkland Scholar Award from the Mary Kirkland Center for Lupus Research at the Hospital for Special Surgery, and the 2014 Dallas CEO Excellence in Health Care Achievement in Medical Research. She also holds the Gayle and Max Clampitt Chair in Human Immunology from the Baylor Research Institute. She is a member of several professional associations such as the American Association of Immunologists, the American College of Rheumatology and the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies.

Dr. Pascual has published more than 100 studies in top-tier journals including Nature, Science, Cell, Immunity, The Journal of Experimental Medicine and The Journal of Clinical Investigation. She has also contributed nearly 50 book chapters and reviews, and served as an ad hoc reviewer for numerous scientific journals such as Nature, Cell, Science and the Journal of Experimental Medicine. She has served on the National Institutes of Health’s Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Special Grant Review Committee, is a member of the Arthritis, Connective Tissue and Skin study sectionand co-chair of the Peer Review Task Force at the Lupus Research Institute.

Dr. Pascual received her medical degree from the Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Hospital “12 de Octubre,” U. Complutense in Madrid, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, serving on the faculty since 1990. She became director of the Division of Pediatric Rheumatology in 1998, and a year later joined the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, first as an investigator and later as director of the Center for Inflammation and Genomics. She has also served as a clinical professor in pediatric rheumatology at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children since 1995. Dr. Pascual leads two program projects at the Baylor Institute for Immunology Research that focus on lupus: one funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the other by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

Weill Cornell Medicine

Weill Cornell Medicine is committed to excellence in patient care, scientific discovery and the education of future physicians in New York City and around the world. The doctors and scientists of Weill Cornell Medicine — faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College, Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and Weill Cornell Physician Organization — are engaged in world-class clinical care and cutting-edge research that connect patients to the latest treatment innovations and prevention strategies. Located in the heart of the Upper East Side's scientific corridor, Weill Cornell Medicine's powerful network of collaborators extends to its parent university Cornell University; to Qatar, where Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar offers a Cornell University medical degree; and to programs in Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Weill Cornell Medicine faculty provide comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Queens. Weill Cornell Medicine is also affiliated with Houston Methodist. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.

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