Disease fighters

T-NEMC commits $19 million to cancer research

Tufts-New England Medical Center (T-NEMC) will commit $19 million in research funding over the next eight years to create a Molecular Oncology Research Institute, a state-of-the-art research entity to enhance the medical center's recognized excellence in cancer care.

T-NEMC has recruited Dr. Philip Tsichlis as the institute's executive director. He also becomes the first Jane F. Desforges Professor of Medicine at Tufts School of Medicine. The endowed chair is named for the professor of medicine emerita at Tufts who was also a mentor of Tsichlis.

A nationally recognized authority on molecular oncology, Tsichlis comes from the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where he was director of basic science and professor in the department of microbiology and immunology. Prior to that, he was associate director of laboratory research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia and served as a cancer expert for the National Cancer Institute.

Early in his career, Tsichlis was a hematology fellow in both medicine and research at Tufts School of Medicine and T-NEMC and an assistant professor of medicine. He trained with nationally renowned physician Dr. Robert Schwartz. Schwartz and Tufts colleague Dr. William Dameshek contributed to the understanding of the human immune system by demonstrating in 1959 that certain drugs could prolong the survival of transplanted organs.

Under Tsichlis' direction, the institute will be recruiting a number of the finest scientists and physician-researchers, as well as expanding important molecular core facilities critical to modern cancer research. The institute's goal is to translate basic research findings to new clinical strategies for cancer diagnosis and therapy.