Two distinguished Weill Cornell Medicine physician-scientists have been elected to the prestigious Association of American Physicians (AAP). Dr. David Cohen, chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, and Dr. Silvia Formenti, chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology, join 70 other leading physician-scientists as the AAP’s 2020 inductees.
Election to the AAP is considered one of the top honors in the field of health and medicine, recognizing physician-scientists who have demonstrated excellence in the pursuit of medical knowledge and in the advancement of basic and clinical science discoveries and their application to clinical medicine.
Dr. Cohen, the Vincent Astor Distinguished Professor of Medicine, focuses on obesity-related gastrointestinal disorders, and was recognized for his work evaluating the effects of obesity on liver disease, particularly nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). His lab seeks to better understand the metabolic basis of NAFLD to improve how it is managed, including identifying molecular targets for potential new drug therapies for obesity, NAFLD and related complications such as type 2 diabetes. “My research team is working to use the mechanisms we’ve found to discover new drug therapies for these diseases,” Dr. Cohen said. “If we can make inroads in this area it will be particularly rewarding.”
“I’m flattered that the members of the AAP felt I was in their company,” he added. “It’s a recognition that I appreciate and one that also reflects the wonderful work of members of my lab over the years.”
Dr. Formenti, the Sandra and Edward Meyer Professor of Cancer Research, was recognized for her original work revealing the effects of ionizing radiation on the immune system and demonstrating the success of combining radiation with immunotherapy to treat solid tumors. Her lab has discovered a novel application of focal radiotherapy, to convert irradiated tumor tissue into an individualized “vaccine,” enabling certain metastatic cancer patients to reject their tumor outside the radiation field. This work has generated a paradigm shift in radiation biology and paved the way for clinical trials of treatments for metastatic cancer.
“In medicine, and in oncology in particular, exciting research is ongoing in the lab and in the clinic, but it’s often difficult to connect them and rapidly translate what is found in the lab to patient care,” she said. “I’ve collaborated with enough labs to truly appreciate the importance of basic science as an engine for transformation, and continue to focus all my efforts to enable its translation to human diseases.”
“Induction into the AAP is a true honor, and of course it recognizes my entire team,” Dr. Formenti said.
With more than 1,700 active members and approximately 600 emeritus and honorary members from the United States, Canada and other countries, new AAP members are elected annually by current members and selected in a competitive process.