Adam Bass to Lead Precision Cancer Medicine at Columbia University
Adam Bass, MD, a leading physician-scientist in the field of cancer genomics and gastrointestinal cancer, will join the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian as the founding director of the Center for Precision Cancer Medicine and director of gastrointestinal oncology. Bass also will serve on the faculty of the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons as professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology and Oncology. His appointment is effective Jan. 1, 2021.
Precision cancer medicine is a rapidly developing field that goes beyond studying cancer by tumor site, using genetic sequencing techniques and novel approaches to uncover a patient’s specific tumor mutations and molecular composition in order to deliver more personalized treatment. Bass will build on the existing momentum of precision medicine across Columbia University and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, bringing together Columbia’s unique strengths in cancer research and care across multiple disciplines and alongside clinical partners at NewYork-Presbyterian.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Bass to the Columbia faculty and the team at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center,” says Anil K. Rustgi, MD, director of the HICCC and interim executive vice president and dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia University. “Dr. Bass brings a wealth of experience as a forward-thinking leader and physician-scientist not only in his specialty area of gastrointestinal cancers but also in the exciting field of precision oncology and personalized medicine. With Dr. Bass at the helm and the deep expertise across our academic medical center and university, our Center for Precision Cancer Medicine is poised to lead the way in new approaches to personalized cancer therapy.”
“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Bass to our team at NewYork-Presbyterian, Columbia, and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center,” says Steven J. Corwin, MD, president and chief executive officer of NewYork-Presbyterian. “Dr. Bass is an exceptionally talented physician-scientist whose research in precision cancer medicine is driving critical advances in the field and in patient care. We are committed to offering our patients cutting-edge therapies designed uniquely for them, and we look forward to Dr. Bass’s leadership and contributions to the delivery of exceptional cancer care.”
At the HICCC, Bass will lead an actively growing program of physician-scientists working at the interface of cancer biology and the development of new cancer diagnostics and therapies. The new center will coalesce investigators across Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian in a 360-degree approach, not only bringing discoveries from the lab to patients’ bedsides, but also incorporating research in real time, allowing researchers to understand how cancer evolves and adapts in response to therapies. A key initiative within the center will be a program to sequence patients’ tumors during treatment, building a vast array of data that researchers will use to further refine their understanding of cancer’s defense mechanisms and develop new drugs and drug combinations to counteract them. Columbia’s Department of Systems Biology, one of the leading programs in the country, will collaborate to apply its pioneering algorithms that process and interpret these complex data.
“Our deep bench in basic and translational science coupled with our meticulous care and innovative clinical trials are the defect-discovering and phenotype-defining foundational aspects of precision cancer medicine,” says Donald Landry, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and chief of medicine at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “The new Center for Precision Cancer Medicine will build on and advance our efforts at the leading edge of the field of precision oncology.”
“The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian is a driving force in cancer research and care situated in a world-class academic center,” says Bass. “I am honored to join this incredible institution and help shape the next chapter of precision cancer medicine. Precision cancer medicine needs to extend beyond sequencing DNA and RNA in each tumor towards a multifaceted approach to confront the complexity of cancer biology. Tackling a problem of this scope can best be accomplished by drawing upon the unique expertise across all of Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian. Additionally, given Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian’s remarkably diverse patient population, I am excited to help bring targeted cancer therapies and prevention tools to all patients, including minority and underserved populations who are statistically less likely to benefit from these advances.”
At the HICCC, Bass will work closely with the Precision Oncology and Systems Biology Research Program, co-led by Andrea Califano, Dr, and Richard Carvajal, MD, as well as with Columbia Precision Medicine, a university-wide initiative directed by Tom Maniatis, PhD.
“Precision cancer medicine is an exciting field and has the potential to completely change how we think about and treat cancer,” says Gary K. Schwartz, MD, chief of hematology/oncology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and deputy director of the HICCC. “Our goal with this new center is to provide patients with new therapies based on precisely defined changes in their tumors’ DNA and RNA. We believe this approach will change the way we practice cancer medicine and provide new hope to our cancer patients. Dr. Bass’s expertise and leadership in this area is unparalleled, and we are thrilled he will be joining our faculty.”
Bass is currently associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a member of the cancer program at the Broad Institute, and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also serves as leader of the Gastrointestinal Malignancies Program and Special Program of Research Excellence in Gastrointestinal Cancer at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.
Bass’ research investigates the genomics of gastrointestinal cancers, with the ultimate aim of translating findings uncovered in the lab into better and more effective therapeutics for patients with cancer. Bass co-chaired the Cancer Genome Atlas projects to characterize the genomes of gastric and esophageal cancer. His team has been investigating genes and genetic alteration drivers of GI tumors with the hope of better understanding their role in cancer development. His work is motivated by the potential of precision oncology to deliver targeted therapies to cancer patients by enabling clinicians and researchers to make genomic data-driven decisions about a patient’s treatment in real time.
Bass obtained his undergraduate degree from Amherst College and his MD degree from Duke University School of Medicine. He pursued clinical training in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and medical oncology at the Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Center. At the completion of his clinical training, he served as a postdoctoral fellow with Matthew Meyerson, MD, PhD, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Broad Institute. He is a recipient of the Eugene D. O’Kelly Award from the American Cancer Society and is an inducted member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.