Leadership

Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, Ph.D.

Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, Ph.D.

Director

Julio A. Aguirre-Ghiso, PhD. Dr. Aguirre-Ghiso is an Endowed Professor and founding Director of the Cancer Dormancy and Tumor Microenvironment Institute at the Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center in New York City, where he directs the Gruss Lipper Biophotonics Center and Co-leads the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program at the Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center. He is also President of the Metastasis Research Society and has served at several leadership levels at AACR. He received his PhD from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1997 and completed his post-doctoral training as a Charles H. Revson Fellow at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in 2003. He was appointed Assistant Professor at SUNY-Albany the same year, and from 2008 to 2021, he developed his career at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai where he joined as Associate Professor and grew in the ranks receiving tenure and a full Professor position. In 2020, he became a Mount Sinai Endowed Chair in Cancer Biology.

His work focuses on understanding the biology of residual cancer cells that persist in a dormant state after initial therapy. His research team led, along with others, a paradigm shift, revealing novel cancer biology that diverges from the notion that cancer is perpetually proliferating. His work has been published in top-tier journals such as Nature, Nature Cell Biology, Science, and Cancer Cell. His team discovered that reciprocal cross-talk between disseminated tumor cells and the microenvironment regulates the inter-conversion between dormancy and proliferation of metastasis. His lab has also provided mechanistic advances to the understanding of the process of early dissemination in breast cancer and how it contributes to dormancy and metastatic progression. His work also has mechanistically explored how adaptive pathways such as the unfolded protein response allow cancer cells to survive while quiescent. This knowledge enables targeting residual cancer preventing recurrences. This approach led him to found a start-up company, HiberCell, which is conducting clinical trials and further drug development born from his vision. He is a reviewer for top-tier journals and for both federal private and international agencies. His research has been continuously funded by federal, state, and private entities since its inception. His findings, which have been applied in clinical studies, are revealing ways to maintain residual cancer dormancy, kill dormant cancer cells, and utilize markers to determine the dormant or active state of disseminated cancer cells.

Clinical Leaders

Clinical Leaders

The CDTMI incorporates two leading clinical investigators from the Einstein-Montefiore Health System, Dr. Maja Oktay and Dr. Amit Verma as Co-Directors of Clinical Research. They will help shape the translational and clinical impact of the Institute and shape the basic science research with an influence of critical clinical insight.

Advisory Board

Advisory Board

The advisory board will initially include Drs. Julio Aguirre-Ghiso, Edward Chu, Ulrich Steidl, Amit Verma, Maja Oktay, Alyson Moadel-Roblee, and John Condeelis. The CDTMI will name additional advisory board members with basic, translational, and clinical expertise from Einstein as well as outside experts that will help guide the mission and growth of the Institute.

Membership

Membership

The CDTMI will nominate existing faculty members from the Einstein-Montefiore Health System to join the Institute. The Institute Leadership will also accept applications for membership. Members will have to develop research programs that are strongly aligned with the vision of the CDTMI. Members will also have access to unique resources and pilot funds for collaborative projects provided by the CDTMI and MECC.

Advocates and Community Involvement

Advocates and Community Involvement

The CDTMI Leadership has as a goal to engage and involve patient advocates through multiple levels of interactions that are beneficial for the patient advocates, scientists, physicians, patients in remission and healthy individuals who will benefit from our research program. The CDTMI will include a unique patient advocate group to prepare educational media to help introduce our Institute and to communicate our progress to the patient population in general, and in particular to the most vulnerable populations, to the underserved and minority members of our community who are disproportionately affected by metastatic disease. The CDTMI will be inclusive and equitable, and seeks to involve a racially, economically, geographically, and culturally diverse group of members and advocates.

The CDTMI will rely on the leadership of Dr. Alyson Moadel-Robblee, (Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at Einstein) who serves as the Associate Director of Community Outreach and Engagement for the Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center and Founding Director of the Bronx Oncology Living Daily (BOLD Living) Cancer Wellness Program, an initiative that delivers peer-to-peer support to underserved cancer patients, to enhance health literacy and action. Under Dr. Moadel-Robblee’s leadership, the CDTMI will coordinate activities related to education, communication, metastatic patient support groups, and community engagement activities that will both inform and disseminate the work done at our Institute.