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Awards and Honors Across Weill Cornell Medicine - Week of Feb. 12 - Feb. 19

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Dr. J. Emilio Carrillo, an associate professor of clinical medicine, became a member of the National Quality Forum's Disparities Standing Committee in December. The committee is dedicated to providing a cross-cutting emphasis on healthcare disparities and to serve as a resource for activities including measure evaluation, selection, consideration of use, and improvement. The organization is a not-for-profit, nonpartisan, membership-based organization that works to catalyze improvements in healthcare.

Dr. Joseph J. Fins, chief of the Division of Medical Ethics, the E. William Davis, Jr., MD Professor of Medical Ethics and a professor of medicine, medicine in psychiatry, healthcare policy and research, and medical ethics in neurology, served as the Kim-Frank Visiting Writer on Nov. 5 at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and gave the talk "Rights Come to Mind: Giving Voice to Consciousness." This sponsored lecture is part of an annual series at the university called "Writing at Wesleyan."

Dr. Andrew I. Schafer, a professor of medicine, was named president-elect of the American Clinical and Climatological Association for 2016-2017. The organization, limited to 250 nationwide members, is an honorary society of academic clinicians who have demonstrated a high level of integrity and professionalism as well as a desire to nurture warmth, diversity and friendship. Dr. Schafer was also appointed to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Scientific Advisory Council. The foundation aims to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, and child well-being. The Scientific Advisory Council provides general advice and guidance to the foundation's Medical Research Program.

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Awards and Honors Across Weill Cornell Medical College - Week of June 5 - June 12

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Dr. Lora H. Ellenson, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and collaborators Dr. Alexander Nikitin, a professor of pathology, and Dr. John Schimenti, a professor of genetics from Cornell University were awarded the 2015 Program Project Development Grant from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. This program provides $900,000 of funding over three years for large ovarian cancer research projects that involve several investigators within one institution or collaborations between groups in multiple institutions. The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund awards grants to researchers working to better understand, identify, treat and ultimately cure ovarian cancer.

Dr. Andrew I. Schafer, director of the Richard T. Silver, M.D. Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Center and a professor of medicine, delivered the keynote lecture "Is the Physician-Scientist Vanishing?," at the Academy of Medical Sciences' 2015 Spring Meeting for Clinician Scientists in Training, hosted Feb. 26 at the Royal College of Physicians in London. The academy is an honorary society with more than 1,000 fellows in the United Kingdom representing all medical sciences, including veterinary medicine and dentistry.

Dr. Peter Schlegel, chairman of the Department of Urology, the James J. Colt Professor of Urology and a professor of urology and of reproductive medicine, was named an honorary police surgeon for the New York Police Department on March 20 by Police Commissioner William J. Bratton. Physicians selected for this honor must demonstrate expertise in their field and commitment to giving back to the community. The NYPD has recognized several hundred top specialists from across the United States and abroad with this accolade.

Dr. Manish Shah, the Bartlett Family Associate Professor in Gastrointestinal Oncology and an associate professor of medicine, was invited to join Cancer's Editorial Board. The journal is published twice monthly by the American Cancer Society, a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. Published since 1948, Cancer is one of the oldest peer-reviewed journals in oncology and seeks to impart highly relevant and timely information to a broad audience of oncology and related specialists in the field.

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Dr. Andrew Schafer Appointed Director of the Silver MPN Center

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Dr. Andrew Schafer

Dr. Andrew Schafer, former chairman of the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, has been appointed director of the Richard T. Silver, M.D. Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Center at Weill Cornell.

The center, established with a $3.7 million gift from the Cancer Research & Treatment Fund, is named for Dr. Richard T. Silver, a world-renowned authority on myeloproliferative neoplasms, or MPNs, a group of diseases related to the excessive production of bone marrow cells.

The translational research and treatment center, which will be officially dedicated during a ceremony in February, brings cross-disciplinary expertise and cutting-edge methods to bear on these rare and often fatal blood cancers.

"I'm delighted and honored to be named director of the Silver MPN Center," said Dr. Schafer, also professor of medicine at Weill Cornell. "I've spent the great majority of my professional career involved in research and treatment of MPNs, so I have a very deep appreciation of the challenges these diseases pose and the progress that needs to be made."

MPNs encompass four diseases: chronic myeloid leukemia or CML, in which bone marrow manufactures too many white blood cells; polycythemia vera, characterized by too many red blood cells; essential thrombocythemia, defined by excess platelets; and primary myelofibrosis, scarring of the bone marrow. For unknown reasons, these conditions are characterized by clotting disorders — strokes, heart attacks, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary emboli — and terminate in acute leukemia.

As director, Dr. Schafer will manage the biomedical research activities surrounding MPNs, engaging an interdisciplinary team of basic and translational scientists to study the molecular underpinnings of these diseases. With clinicians working alongside these scientists, medical discoveries made at the bench will be rapidly translated into novel treatments and therapies, offering patients immediate access to the latest advanced care. The center is aligned with Weill Cornell's institutional goal of fostering groundbreaking translational research, and is housed at the Belfer Research Building, Weill Greenberg Center and at the main Weill Cornell building at 1300 York Ave., under the auspices of the Cancer Center at Weill Cornell and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

"The Silver MPN Center affirms Dr. Silver's lifelong work to make unparalleled progress in understanding these rare and often fatal cancers," said Dr. Lewis Cantley, director of the cancer center, the Margaret and Herman Sokol Professor in Oncology Research and professor of cancer biology in medicine. "We are deeply grateful for Dr. Silver's leadership in this area, and are excited that Dr. Schafer will take the helm of this new translational research center."

"It is an honor to have Dr. Andrew Schafer appointed as the director of the Richard T. Silver, M.D. Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Center," said Dr. Silver, who will continue his work at the center as director emeritus. "Dr. Schafer has a long and distinguished career by virtue of his laboratory and clinical excellence in advancing this field. I know he will provide state-of-the-art research, leading to new treatments for our patients. I am proud that Cancer Research & Treatment Fund, with which I have been associated for so many years, has played a pivotal role in establishing the Silver MPN Center, and I look forward to a future filled with new discoveries."

Dr. Richard Silver

Dr. Richard Silver. Credit: John Abbott

The Cancer Research & Treatment Fund, or CR&T, established by Dr. Silver nearly 45 years ago, provides grants to scientists working on cutting-edge cancer research. CR&T has given more than $13 million to Weill Cornell, funding research into myeloproliferative neoplasms, lymphoma and breast cancer, as well as collaborative studies of blood flow with the College of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University and basic science studies with the Division of Molecular Pathology at Weill Cornell and the Sloan-Kettering Institute. In addition, CR&T established the Richard T. Silver Distinguished Chair of Hematology and Medical Oncology, a position currently held by Dr. John Leonard; the Johns Family Fellowship, named for one of Dr. Silver's patients; and the Richard T. Silver, M.D. Visiting Professorship in Hematology/Oncology.

In addition to establishing the center, CR&T's gift will also enable the recruitment of a top-tier basic scientist and clinician who will advance the research and treatment of these diseases.

"For over 40 years, CR&T's vision has been to bring the gains made in the laboratory to the bedside and to translate that progress to better treatment for patients," said Douglas W. McCormick, president of CR&T. "Today, as a result of the lifetime of dedicated service that Dr. Silver has given to the fight against cancer, and the tireless efforts of fellow board member David Boule, who spearheaded the CR&T Richard T. Silver, MD Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Center drive, CR&T makes another quantum leap in delivering on its mission. We are proud to welcome Dr. Andrew Schafer as the Silver MPN Center's first director, whose experience, research and seminal contributions to these diseases will add immeasurably to its success."

"We are thrilled to have a physician/scientist of Dr. Schafer's exceptional caliber, experience and original/seminal research contributions to this blood cancer to lead the Silver MPN Center and to build on Dr. Silver's pioneering work," added Boule, one of the CR&T board members leading the initiative to establish the Richard T. Silver, M.D. Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Center.

For Dr. Schafer, his appointment as director is particularly fitting. In 1979, as a young physician-scientist completing his research fellowship at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Schafer began investigating a specific signal transduction pathway in blood platelets, intending to learn how normal human platelets become activated in circulation, he said. In the course of his research, Dr. Schafer obtained blood samples from patients with MPNs, not expecting to see a difference between their platelets and normal ones. To his surprise, his research revealed that the signaling pathway and receptors were deficient — a consistent abnormality in the function of those platelets. That finding led him down a path he's been following for more than 30 years.

"The appointment of Dr. Andrew Schafer to lead the Richard T. Silver, M.D. Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Center is exciting news," said Dr. Mark Pasmantier, associate medical director at CR&T and clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell. "Dr. Schafer is a world-class hematologist, a former chief of medicine, a leader in medical education, mentorship and research. He is the perfect individual to continue the tradition of clinical and scientific excellence that is personified by Dr. Silver."

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