The making of a world-class cancer research program
Each year, more than 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer and more than 600,000 die from various forms of the disease. This takes a massive toll on patients and families—one that El-Deiry, an active physician-scientist, witnesses on a weekly basis in his clinic.
“There is nothing like seeing patients in the clinic every week,” he says. “We are able to learn about their individual challenges and find motivation in what we could be addressing about the disease.”
El-Deiry is the Mencoff Family Professor of Medical Science and Associate Dean for Oncologic Sciences at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. His research has led to a new class of drugs for targeting cancer cells and shrinking tumors in patients.
Since his arrival at Brown, he has worked with diverse stakeholders to organize and integrate the large amount of cancer-relevant research happening on campus. The Cancer Center at Brown now houses three core cancer research programmatic areas: the Cancer Biology Research Program, the Cancer Therapeutics Research Program, and the Population Science Research Program. These collaborations are augmented by 11 translational research disease groups, which focus on specific types of related cancers, including brain, breast, bladder, lung, skin, and gastrointestinal cancers. In 2020, the Cancer Center at Brown University joined the Association of American Cancer Institutes, which includes 102 premier cancer centers in the United States and Canada.
“We're bringing together all of these researchers with different skill sets to focus on some common themes,” he says. “This allows us to achieve more than any of us could do individually. It allows us to begin thinking about the bigger questions affecting our community. Looking for new drugs that could treat cancers, seeing that develop in the laboratory and move to the clinic, and then testing it in clinical trials. It takes a village to do that sort of thing, and the impact can be global.”