Hackensack Meridian Health and Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Join New York Genome Center as Associate Members

December 19, 2019

Hackensack Meridian Health and the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center consortium have become the newest institutional associate members of the New York Genome Center (NYGC), an independent and non-profit academic research institution focused on furthering genomic research.

The two institutions join through two separate partnerships using advanced DNA analysis to address major health problems including behavioral disorders and cancer. Hackensack Meridian Health’s Center for Discovery and Innovation and the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, a member of the Georgetown Lombardi consortium, are a key part of the network’s strategies to develop and employ the latest genomic medicine for patients.

“The Center for Discovery and Innovation is a key component of our mission to transform health care and lead toward the future,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “The John Theurer Cancer Center continues to provide the most advanced care currently available. With these new partnerships with the New York Genome Center, patients in New Jersey and beyond will benefit from the latest technologies for personalized medicine.”

“This is a leap forward for the CDI and its mission to translate scientific innovation from the laboratory to treatments for patients,” said David S. Perlin, Ph.D., chief scientific officer and senior vice president of the CDI. “Our world-class scientists at the center will benefit from connecting and collaborating with colleagues at leading New York-region institutions.”

“The New York Genome Center is a unique and critical nexus for research collaboration in the genomics community, and Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is pleased to join NYGC’s member institutions to partner in cancer genomics research,” said Louis M. Weiner, M.D., director of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and the MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute.

The first partnership focuses on behavioral disorders and will be led by Hackensack Meridian Health’s CDI. It will explore the genetics underlying the risk factors for certain behaviors and their management. The goal is to identify genetic markers that help physicians predict and manage disease more effectively.

The second partnership will focus on cancer patients and will be led by the NCI-designated Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, which includes the John Theurer Cancer Center and CDI. The goal is to use advanced genetic analyses to better understand risk factors for emergence of certain aggressive cancers, such as pediatric brain tumors, and why certain cancers fail to respond to immunotherapy. The intent is to identify genetic markers or cellular factors that can improve patient outcomes.

Given their areas of research focus, Hackensack Meridian Health and Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center will be participants in the Genome Center Cancer Group (GCCG), NYGC’s founding scientific working group, composed of clinicians and cancer researchers from NYGC’s member institutions. With the addition of these new members, the GCCG now includes seven NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. The GCCG is led by Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus, M.D., Senior Associate Core Member, NYGC, and Lewis Thomas University Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, and Charles Sawyers, M.D., Chair, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Affiliate Member, NYGC. The GCCG recently launched Polyethnic-1000, a project to study cancer in ethnically diverse, underserved patient populations and is also spearheading the multi-institutional Very Rare Cancer Consortium, a research cohort focused on understanding the genetic causes for rare, understudied cancers. In addition the NYGC is also utilizing the application of novel statistical approaches and population-level analyses to major cohorts in cancer genomics.

Researchers from Hackensack Meridian Health’s CDI also are expected to engage in NYGC’s Neuropsychiatric Disease Scientific Working Group. It is led by Tom Maniatis, Ph.D., Evnin Family Scientific Director and CEO, NYGC, Michael Zody, PhD, Scientific Director, Computational Biology, NYGC, and Thomas Lehner, PhD, MPH, formerly of the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health, who arrives to the NYGC in January in the new position of Scientific Director of Neuropsychiatric Disease Genomics. Reporting to Dr. Maniatis, Dr. Lehner will lead the expansion of the NYGC’s innovative, large-scale whole genome autism research into other neuropsychiatric disease areas, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Hackensack Meridian Health and Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center will complement and further the work already underway at the NYGC.

“We are excited to have these leading institutions with distinguished physician-scientists and researchers join the New York Genome Center community,” said Tom Maniatis, Ph.D., Evnin Family Scientific Director and CEO, NYGC. “We look forward to working with their teams to further our collaborative efforts to accelerate genomics research.

Hackensack Meridian Health and Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center join NYGC’s institutional associate members, which include American Museum of Natural History, Hospital for Special Surgery, The New York Stem Cell Foundation, Princeton University, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and its 12 institutional founding members, including Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Columbia University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, The Jackson Laboratory, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York University, Northwell Health, The Rockefeller University, Stony Brook University, and Weill Cornell Medicine.