We were thrilled to welcome two new core faculty this year. Dr. Sanja Vickovic joined in July 2022: she has pioneered novel spatially resolved transcriptomics and genomics methods that enable massive parallel in situ profiling of intact tissue samples. She is a member of the Biomedical Engineering department and also the Director of Technology Innovation and a Core Faculty at the New York Genome Center (NYGC). Dr. Bianca Dumitrascu is joining this January. She brings her expertise in statistical optimization, statistical physics, and domain adaptation to understand how local molecular rules give rise to emergent spatial patterns in the context of biological dynamical systems. The Institute invited Dr. David Tourigny to become an affiliate member. He was previously an associate research scientist at the IICD and recently became a Birmingham Fellow in the School of Mathematics at the University of Birmingham, UK.
Drs Elham Azizi and José McFaline-Figueroa both received Junior Faculty Grants (Azizi/McFaline-Figueroa) through the Office of the Provost Grants Program for junior faculty who contribute to the university’s diversity goals and NSF Career Awards. Dr. Jellert Gaublomme was recently awarded an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award (D2P) for his project titled “Spatially Mapping of Pooled in vivo CRISPR Screens in the Tumor Microenvironment.” Dr. Chin Hur was named a 2022 Velocity Fellow to study the integration of liquid biopsy cancer tests into gastrointestinal cancer early detection. Dr. Karol Nowicki-Osuch and collaborators at the Irving Medical School and the NYGC have received a multi-PI R01 grant to combine novel single-cell sequencing and spatial transcriptomics approaches with innovative model organisms to study the early stages of gastric cancer development.
The IICD and the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute recently set up a new serial two-photon tomography (STPT) system. The project, spearheaded by IICD Associate Member Darcy Peterka, will allow the development of new approaches to image and interrogate the tumor microenvironment with single-cell resolution. The Institute continues to establish extensive collaborations with various departments and research centers. In particular, the IICD strengthened its partnership with the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center through research collaborations with Dr. Peter D. Canoll (with Darcy Peterka for the STPT system) and Dr. Aaron D. Viny (with Russell Kunes) and supporting joint members.
The IICD hosted an intern from the École Polytechnique (France) through a new collaboration with the Alliance Program. Elisa Bergomi, a third-year engineering student, joined Dr. Simon Tavaré's lab for four months to work on clonal evolution in tumors, applying statistical inference techniques to the modeling of cancer evolution. She is now an MS student in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University.
The Institute is continuing its seminar series on the topic of mathematical sciences underpinning cancer research during the 2022-2023 academic year, with most seminars taking place in a hybrid format. We regularly host several special seminars during the year as well. A line-up of our upcoming events can be found here. Moreover, registration is currently open for our first in-person symposium since March 2020. The Mathematical and Computational Methods in Cancer and Biology Symposium (March 16th-18th, 2023) will highlight the importance of the mathematical and computational sciences and technological developments in driving fundamental discoveries in cancer biology and many other biological fields. The event will also be an occasion to celebrate two milestones: Simon Tavaré’s 70th birthday and the 5th anniversary of the Institute.
To conclude, I would like to offer my thanks to our faculty, researchers, students, and staff for their continued contributions to our work and outreach initiatives. I also want to thank our collaborators and partners at Columbia University and beyond for their support in our cancer research efforts. And finally, thank all of you for your continued support through participation in our events, engagement via our newsletter, research collaborations, and more. We hope to provide many more opportunities to connect and collaborate.
With best wishes from the IICD,
Director, Irving Institute for Cancer Dynamics