World expert will assume Petre Foundation Chair of Prostate Cancer Research
28 November 2012
The Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of Sydney are proud to announce that from March 2013 Professor Mark Rubin will assume the inaugural Petre Foundation* Chair of Prostate Cancer Research.
Currently Homer T. Hirst Professor of Oncology in Pathology and Vice Chair of Experimental Pathology at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University in New York, Professor Rubin has dedicated the last 15 years to prostate cancer research specifically, and has been involved in some of the most critical prostate cancer biomarker discoveries to-date.
Since arriving at Weill Cornell five years ago to help develop the College’s translational cancer research, Professor Rubin has published over 50 studies that provide insight into the molecular distinctions between aggressive and harmless prostate tumours. Some of that work, which builds on his research at Harvard Medical School where he was Associate Professor of Pathology from 2002 to 2007, has led to the development of two clinical tests. Both tests incorporate discoveries Professor Rubin made with longtime collaborator Professor Arul Chinnaiyan from the University of Michigan.
Professors Rubin and Chinnaiyan discovered that about half of prostate cancers contain a fusion of two genes (TMPRSS2-ETS), a prostate cancer-specific mutation upon which a tissue test, now available in the United States and Europe, is based. Their discovery was published in Science in 2006.
Professor Rubin has published over 250 peer-reviewed papers, with milestones including the first expression profiling paper on prostate cancer (Nature 2001) and the first prostate cancer genome sequencing paper (Nature 2011).
In addition to studying the molecular underpinnings of prostate cancer, and linking those with different treatment responses, Professor Rubin is particularly focused on why therapies for metastatic prostate cancers fail, and explaining the genetic alterations that trigger the disease and drive its growth.
In several studies published within the last year, two of them in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Rubin identified previously unknown mutations linked to prostate cancer and explained why they may spur tumour growth.
In April 2012, Professor Rubin was made part of a “dream team” of prostate cancer investigators in the United States who were awarded $10 million by the nonprofit organisations Stand Up 2 Cancer (SU2C) and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (USA). Over the next three years, the team will sequence the tumors of 500 men participating in clinical trials for so-called castration-resistant prostate cancer, a lethal type of the disease that even the best new hormone therapies cannot cure.
Professor Rubin will be located in The Kinghorn Cancer Centre (TKCC), a joint venture of Garvan and St. Vincent’s Hospital. TKCC houses patients, clinicians and researchers with the aim of bringing research breakthroughs rapidly to the bedside. Prime Minister Julia Gillard opened the centre in August 2012, announcing the establishment of Australia’s third National Prostate Cancer Research Centre within TKCC.
Acting Director of TKCC and Director of Cancer Services at St Vincent’s Hospital, Professor Allan Spigelman, is delighted at the appointment. “Having such an accomplished and high profile recruit so early in the life of the centre is truly welcome and bodes well for the future of our prostate cancer research team,” he said.
Professor John Mattick, Executive Director of Garvan, said that Professor Rubin’s expertise in translational genomics will find an ideal outlet in TKCC, set up for this purpose.
“By coming to Australia, and by further developing novel approaches for genomic discovery, Professor Rubin will enrich cancer research here, as well as foster important international collaborations and connections.”
Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of the University of Sydney Medical School, said the new Chair was an important development, and he welcomed the stronger link with the Garvan Institute.
“Professor Rubin’s appointment will strengthen the cancer research programs at both the Garvan Institute and the University of Sydney.”
In addition to pursuing his research work, Professor Rubin will continue his input to a number of international advisory boards on prostate cancer research.
In 2011, the Petre Foundation donated $2 million to enable the new Petre Foundation Chair of Prostate Cancer Research at the University of Sydney and the Garvan Institute