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Scientists Discover a Key Genetic Driver of Lymphomas

Mutations in proteins called histone H1, which help package DNA in chromosomes, are a frequent cause of lymphomas, according to a study led by researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian and The Rockefeller University. The findings could lead to new approaches to treating these cancers.

Scientists in recent years have observed that mutations in histone H1 genes occur in lymphomas, but they have not known whether these mutations are causes or effects of malignancy. The study, which appears Dec. 9 in Nature, reveals that certain histone H1 mutations are indeed drivers of lymphoma, and promote these cancers by loosening areas of DNA that are normally tightly wrapped. This loosening allows aberrant expression of early development genes that are normally completely shut down in the mature lymphocytes from which lymphomas derive. 

Ethel Cesarman, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

“It’s a very interesting set of findings that give us insights into the origins of lymphomas as well as the important role of histone H1 proteins in the maturation of cells,” said co-senior author Dr. Ari Melnick, the Gebroe Family Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology and a member of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The other co-senior authors on the study were Dr. Ethel Cesarman, a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Dr. Alexey Soshnev, a postdoctoral associate in the laboratory of Dr. David Allis, the Joy and Jack Fishman Professor at The Rockefeller University.

Lymphomas are relatively common cancers. Each year around 85,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with them, and more than 20,000 people die of them. Most lymphomas arise from immune cells called B cells, which make antibodies.

Dr. Teresa Sanchez Featured on North American Vascular Biology Organization Website

Teresa Sanchez, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, was featured twice on the website of the influential North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO) during the month of November, 2020. 

Teresa Sanchez, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

The Members' Labs page of the website highlighted her primary research, which investigates the molecular mechanisms governing endothelial dysfunction in various pathological conditions such as cerebrovascular diseases (e.g., ischemic stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhage) and sepsis. 
The NAVBO Education Committee also asked select junior faculty members from leading academic organizations to share their experiences during the transition from trainee to first independent post. The 'Lessons Learned' column highlights the challenges confronted, dilemmas dissected, and lessons learned to help smooth the career paths of junior faculty. You can view the Lessons Learned by Dr. Sanchez here

A Conversation with Dr. Wei Song

We are pleased to introduce you to Wei Song, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Song is the new Director of the Molecular Pathology Division, Director of the Clinical Genomics Laboratory, and an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine. He is also Assistant Attending Pathologist at NewYork-Presbyterian.

We hope you enjoy learning more about him and his research interests, and how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected him.

Wei Song, BM, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Question: Congratulations on your promotion to Director of the Molecular Pathology Division. Can you tell us what your broad goals are?

“Thanks. I would like to contribute to revolutionizing the conventional pathology diagnosis in a brand-new era, i.e. applying molecular profiling as a novel diagnostic tool for patient care in the new era of precision diagnosis.”

How will the new position affect your work within the other departments? You'll have a lot on your plate!

“It will be challenging. Fortunately, we already have a strong team and faculty leadership within the Clinical Genomics Laboratory. The already existing framework and departmental support, will allow me to focus on the supervision of quality management and new assay development which are two areas critical for future growth.”

Where do you see the Molecular Division five years from now?

“I’d like to help lead our division to become recognized as a top five comprehensive molecular pathology program covering multiple medical areas including oncology, infectious disease, genetics. We also would like to expand our service to other regional hospitals in New York City.”

How would you describe Molecular Pathology to a person who may have no idea what this department does?

“We are able to make a diagnosis by using each patient’s specific genetic molecular coding, such as DNA or RNA. Such precise diagnosis enables treatment in a much more targeted, accurate and efficient way.”

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