Andrea Califano and Jordan Orange Elected to National Academy of Medicine


Andrea Califano and Jordan Orange

Andrea Califano, Dr., and Jordan Orange, MD, PhD, of Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons have been elected to the National Academy of Medicine for their contributions to medical science, health care, and public health.

Founded by Congress in 1863, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) is one of three private, non-profit institutions created to provide objective advice to the U.S. government on matters of science, technology, and health.

Members of NAM, formerly known as the Institute of Medicine, are elected by their peers in recognition of outstanding achievement, and membership is one of the highest honors bestowed in the field of medicine. This year, 85 new members, including 10 international members, were elected to the academy.


Andrea Califano: Bringing a Different Perspective to Cancer Research


Andrea Califano, Dr., is the Clyde and Helen Wu Professor of Chemical and Systems Biology and founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology.

A physicist by training, Califano is a pioneer in the field of systems biology and has developed innovative, systematic approaches to identify the molecular factors that lead to cancer progression and drug resistance. 

Califano has pushed the conversation about cancer research away from a singular focus on gene mutations and toward the complex molecular networks that determine cancer cell behavior.

Using methods based on information theory, Califano and members of his lab have shown that master regulator proteins are critical drivers of cancer, despite the fact that they are rarely mutated or differentially expressed.

In addition, his lab has developed methods for the systematic discovery of small molecule compounds and combinations that can inactivate master regulators in cancer, and some of these therapies are now being tested in clinical trials.

Califano is also a member of the Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics and Biomedical Informatics, director of the JP Sulzberger Columbia Genome Center, and associate director of Columbia’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center


Jordan Orange: Understanding Pediatric Immune Disorders May Lead to New Cancer Treatments


Jordan Orange, MD, PhD, the Reuben S. Carpentier Professor of Pediatrics and chair of the Department of Pediatrics, is a pioneer in discovering previously unknown immune diseases in children and uncovering their underlying biological mechanisms. This work has allowed him to identify new therapeutic strategies for his patients, as well as patients with more common diseases such as cancer.

Orange is credited with defining a new class of diseases known as natural killer cell deficiencies. Natural killer cells are a part of the immune system always ready to protect us against danger. When something is awry with the cells, we are vulnerable to foreign pathogens and cancer.

Over the past decade, his laboratory has greatly advanced the understanding of how natural killer cells deliver cytotoxic proteins to their targets in a controlled fashion. Better understanding of these processes may lead to therapies that direct a patient’s natural killer cells to eliminate infections or cancer.