Zhengrong (Rong) Cui
Zhengrong (Rong) Cui is a Professor and Alfred and Dorothy Mannino Fellow in Pharmacy at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), College of Pharmacy, Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery. He is also a member of the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes at UT Austin Dell Medical School. His research interests lie in drug and vaccine delivery and experimental tumor therapy. He has nearly twenty years of experience in using pharmaceutical chemistry and nanotechnology to overcome tumor resistance to (chemo)therapy, to target anti-inflammatory agents to chronic inflammation sites, and to improve the immunogenicity of vaccine antigens. He published extensively in the fields of pharmaceutics and vaccinology, including numerous peer-reviewed research papers, review papers, and book chapters. He is an inventor on several patents and patent applications that cover antitumor compounds, nucleic acid delivery systems, vaccine adjuvants, and dry powder vaccines. He teaches Biopharmaceutics to professional Doctor of Pharmacy students and Advanced Biopharmaceutics to graduate students. Dr. Cui serves as an editor of the research journal International Journal of Pharmaceutics. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Kentucky and completed his postdoctoral training at the University of Pittsburgh.
Scott T. Tagawa, MD, MS, FACP is a Professor of Medicine & Urology at Weill Cornell Medicine, and an Attending Physician at NewYork-Presbyterian – Weill Cornell Medical Center.
After earning his BS from Georgetown University, Dr. Tagawa received his MD at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. After completing his Internship and Residency training there, he became Chief Resident and subsequently underwent fellowship training in Hematology and Medical Oncology, being appointed Chief Fellow for his final two years. He had the opportunity to train with international leaders in Genitourinary (GU) Oncology. In August 2005, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, serving as Associate Program Director for the Fellowship Training Program. As Director of Genitourinary Oncology for the Division of Hematology and Oncology and Director of Medical Oncology for the Deane Prostate Health and Research Center, Dr. Tagawa took the lead in developing genitourinary clinical trials. He was recruited to Weill Cornell Medical College in 2007. His research covers clinical and translational investigations in genitourinary tumors and thrombosis in malignancy. As the Medical Director of the Genitourinary Oncology Research Program, Dr. Tagawa leads clinical trials in the areas of prostate, kidney, and bladder cancer as well as the prevention and treatment of thrombosis with cancer. He specializes in drug development and theranostics in prostate cancer. Dr. Tagawa also serves as Associate Director of Clinical Research for the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology and leader of the Genitourinary Disease Management Team of the Meyer Cancer Center. Dr. Tagawa is the WCMC principal investigator for the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology (formerly CALGB), serving on the Board of Directors and as a funded member of the Genitourinary Committee. He is a member of the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Additionally, he serves on the editorial boards of many journals, is a member of numerous national and international medical and scientific societies, and has been named on multiple “top doctor” award lists.
Mr. Typaldos, a veteran IT entrepreneur, is CEO of Petra Acquisition, a life sciences company (with a recent $73M Nasdaq IPO); Executive Chairman of Melontus, a holding company in Digital Health, CLOUD, Enterprise Software, Communications, and AI; BoardMember of QCD-x, an early cancer detection company; as well as AI Advisory Board Member at AIkido Pharma. In the past, he was founder, executive, or major shareholder of Xandros, a Linux operating system company that received strategic alliance and funding from Microsoft; IOTA Communications (formerly Arkados), an IoT company; Scalix, a Linux email company built by HP (HP OpenMail), purchased with Microsoft funding; and Computron, an enterprise financial software company (with a half-billion dollar Nasdaq IPO in the early days of enterprise software). Born in Greece, he received a BS in Mathematical Methods for Engineering and Operations Research on scholarship from Columbia University, and a Masters in Computer Science from Pratt Institute.
Neil H. Bander, M.D.
Dr. Neil H. Bander completed fellowship training in urological oncology under Dr. Willet F. Whitmore, Jr. and an NIH Immunology Training Fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Lloyd Old, both at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. After coming to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medicine (NYPH/WCM), he focused on clinical urological oncology and the development of monoclonal antibodies for targeted cancer therapy.
Beginning in the late 1990s, Dr. Bander directed his efforts to the field of prostate cancer. His research group developed the first monoclonal antibodies to prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) that could effectively bind prostate cancer cells. As a result of Dr. Bander’s efforts, PSMA has become recognized as the most prostate-cancer specific cell surface antigen known.
Dr. Bander’s research team was the first to show that after an antibody binds to PSMA, the antibody-PSMA complex is rapidly internalized into the targeted cancer cell. This finding supports the potential to use PSMA-binding agents to target either radiopharmaceuticals or highly potent drugs that will be selectively internalized by the cancer cells to specifically kill the tumor cells without causing damage to normal cells.
Dr. Bander’s team pioneered the application of PSMA-targeted agents to patients in clinical trials dating back to the early 2000’s. These studies demonstrated that the lead antibody, designated J591, is capable of virtually flawless targeting of tumor sites wherever they are in the body. In addition to successful targeting, a significant proportion of the patients demonstrated anti-tumor activity such as PSA declines and tumor shrinkage of as much as > 90%. These trials validated the utility of targeting PSMA and spawned the high level of interest and activity in PSMA-targeted imaging and therapy now taking place around the world.
Seeing the early clinical data with the agents developed in his lab, Dr. Bander predicted that such agents had the potential to transform how prostate cancer patients are diagnosed, monitored and treated. His vision has, in recent years, begun to bear fruit, and PSMA PET imaging and therapeutics have become some of the most promising recent advances in the prostate cancer field [see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=PSMA].
Dr. Bander’s group recently completed a Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Laboratory – Clinical Transition Award to develop a PSMA antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). This work led to an ADC based on one of Dr. Bander’s antibodies that is now in clinical trials in the US and Europe sponsored by a major pharmaceutical company.
The NYPH/WCM Uro-Oncology research team has sponsored over 15 clinical trials with anti-PSMA antibodies and, more recently, small molecule PSMA agents in prostate cancer patients. As of 2018, over 500 patients have been treated in these trials at WCM/NYPH.
As a result of these efforts, the lead antibody, J591, has been licensed by several biotech/pharma partners who are developing both J591-radiopharmaceuticals and J591-drug conjugates in clinical trials in the US, Europe and Australia.
Since late 2016, the NYPH/WCM Uro-Oncology research team has conducted studies combining the use of small molecule plus antibody for targeting PSMA. Data in Dr. Bander’s lab indicates that such a combination can substantially increase the dose to tumor without increasing side effects and thus has the potential to increase treatment potency to new levels. The NYPH/WCM Uro-Oncology research team is also actively targeting alpha particles—the most potent cell-killing agents known—using the J591 antibody. These efforts, which include related active clinical trials, are unique to WCM/NYPH as the WCM/NYPH PSMA team continues to forge the path forward in the PSMA effort against prostate cancer.
Dr. Bander has exemplified the role of a surgeon-scientist. He has used his clinical background and laboratory efforts to develop a translational research program that has spawned novel clinical trials that are unique in urological oncology and have already made a difference in the lives of prostate cancer patients.