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Clinical Research Teams

The Clinical Research Teams (CRTs) at Yale Cancer Center promote translational research at Smilow Cancer Hospital through scientific discovery, testing new discoveries in our clinics and, ultimately, turning new innovations into viable disease-specific therapeutics. The Yale Cancer Center CRT leaders and Research Program leaders collaborate to ensure all research opportunities are well coordinated and cooperative translational research is a priority for all Yale Cancer Center members.

Goals of the CRTs:
  1. To improve integration of our clinical and research programs
  2. To increase the number of IITs that have a Yale translational research component
  3. To increase peer review of clinical projects
  4. To enable basic scientists to become experts in clinical issues and paradigms
  5. To build clinical/basic science teams to move toward team science and funding

Breast Team Leader

  • Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Medical Oncology); Director, Center for Breast Cancer; Chief, Breast Medical Oncology

    Maryam Lustberg, MD, MPH, is Director of the Center for Breast Cancer at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center, and Chief of Breast Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center. She is also an Associate Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology). She has been recognized for her patient-focused care with awards that include being rated by Forbes as one of the top breast medical oncologists in the nation and named to the Castle Connolly list of “Regional Top Doctors,” and “Exceptional Women in Medicine” for 2020. She is currently participating in the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Leadership Development Program. Learn more about Dr. Lustberg>> With an emphasis on improving the long-term outcomes for patients with breast cancer who have developed side effects associated with treatment, Dr. Lustberg will continue her research efforts at Yale. She is also focused on investigating novel blood-based biomarkers to identify recurrence and treatment toxicity earlier. She is an NCI-funded investigator and active in both ALLIANCE and SWOG Cancer Cooperative Groups. Dr. Lustberg collaborates widely with researchers from around the world, thriving in creating innovative multidisciplinary scientific teams. Her mentorship has been recognized by numerous awards including Best Teacher Award by Hematology Oncology Fellows and the Shining Star Award for Medical Student Mentorship. Nationally, Dr. Lustberg is a member of the ASCO Annual Meeting Education Committee, Patient and Survivor Care Education Committee, and Neuropathy Expert Guideline Panel. She is actively engaged in national patient advocacy organizations with a focus on improving shared decision making and increasing patient engagement in clinical trials. In addition, she serves as the President Elect and on the Board of Directors for the international organization Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC). She serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Cancer Survivorship. In the last decade, she has published over 140 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters. Dr. Lustberg received her medical degree from the University of Maryland where she also completed her residency and went on to complete a fellowship in medical oncology and in breast medical oncology at The Ohio State University before joining the faculty in 2010. She earned a Master's in Public Health from The Ohio State University in 2013.

Cell Therapy Team Leaders

  • Associate Professor of Medicine (Hematology); Co-Director Adult CAR T-Cell Therapy Program, Hematology; Co-Leader, Cellular Therapy Clinical Research Team, Yale Cancer Center; Co-Chair, Cellular Therapy (CT)-SAFE Committee, Yale Cancer Center

GYN Team Leader

  • Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; Clinical Research Team Leader, Gynecologic Oncology, Yale Cancer Center; Co-Chief, Section of Gynecologic Oncology

    Dr. Alessandro D. Santin, a native of Italy, graduated with honors from the University of Brescia, Italy and received his postgraduate training in Obstetrics & Gynecology at the same University. He served a fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at the University of California, Irvine and an International Fellowship in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2000 he became a Clinical Assistant Professor and in 2004 an Associate Professor with Tenure in the same Division. Watch a video with Dr. Alessandro Santin >> Dr. Santin joined the faculty in the Section of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale as Professor as of July 2008. He was the recipient of the American Association young investigator award and the Italian Society of Gynecologic Oncologists award for translational science. Dr. Santin has more than 300 original research and peer-reviewed publications including multiple review articles and book chapters and he has written extensively on various topics, including cancer of the ovary, endometrium and cervix as well as on tumor immunology and immunotherapy. Dr. Santin's clinical interests include cancer of the ovary, uterus, vagina, cervix and vulva; intraperitoneal chemotherapy, tumor genetics, immunology and immunotherapy; tumor angiogenesis, radiation biology and experimental therapeutics in Gynecologic Oncology. His current research interests include immunotherapy for ovarian, cervical and endometrial carcinomas refractory to standard treatment modalities; development of therapeutic vaccines against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infected genital tumors, and the use of monoclonal antibodies against chemotherapy resistant gynecologic malignancies. Dr. Santin is a member of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, the Gynecologic Oncology Group, The International Gynecologic Oncology Society, the American Medical Association, the American Society of Immunologists, the Italian Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

GI Team Leader

  • Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Medical Oncology); Director, Center for Gastrointestinal Cancers at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center; Chief, GI Medical Oncology

    Dr. Kunz is an international leader in the treatment and clinical research of patients with GI malignancies and neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). She holds several leadership positions in the field including President Emeritus of the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society, recent past Chair of the Neuroendocrine Tumor Taskforce of the National Cancer Institute, and member of the FDA’s Oncology Drug Advisory Committee. She also currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief for JCO Oncology Advances. In addition to her focus on NETs, she is a leading voice for promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in medicine. She served as the Vice Chief of DEI for the Section of Medical Oncology at Yale School of Medicine and, in 2021, she was awarded ‘Woman Oncologist of the Year’ by Women Leaders in Oncology for her work in promoting gender equity.Learn more about Dr. Kunz >>

Head & Neck, Sarcoma, and Endocrine Team Leader

Leukemia and Myeloid Malignancies Team Leader

  • Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Hematology); Chief, Hematologic Malignancies; Director, Early Therapeutics Research, Hematology; Leader, Clinical Research Team for Leukemias and Myeloid Malignancies, Yale Cancer Center; Chair, Protocol Review Committee (PRC) I, Yale Cancer Center; Assistant Medical Director, Clinical Trials Office (CTO), Yale Cancer Center; Director, Hematology Research Seminar Series, Hematology; Member, Executive Committee, Yale Cancer Center; Member, Clinical Trials Advisory Committee (CTAC), Yale Cancer Center

    Amer Zeidan, MBBS, MHS @Dr_AmerZeidan is an Associate Professor of Medicine (Hematology) at Yale University. He is also the medical director of Hematology Early Therapeutics Research, the leader of the Myeloid malignancies Clinical Research Team (CRT), and the director of Continuing Medical Education (CME) at the Hematology division at Yale Cancer Center. Dr. Zeidan completed a hematology/oncology fellowship and a clinical research fellowship in myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) at Johns Hopkins University where he also earned a Master of Health Science (MHS) degree in Clinical Investigation. Dr. Zeidan specializes in the management of myeloid malignancies especially MDS and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The focus of Dr. Zeidan’s clinical/translational research is the development of novel therapies for myeloid malignancies, with a special focus on targeted therapies and immunotherapy-based approaches. Dr. Zeidan is also active in health outcomes and comparative effectiveness research for blood cancers and their therapies. Dr. Zeidan has and continues to serve as the principal investigator of many investigator-initiated, cooperative group and industry sponsored clinical trials for myeloid malignancies. Dr. Zeidan also chairs or serves on the steering committees of several large clinical trials of myeloid malignancies. He has served as the vice chair of the Yale Cancer Center Data and Safety Monitoring Committee (YCC DSMC) and currently serves in the independent data and safety monitoring committees of multiple clinical trials. Dr. Zeidan is a member of the MyeloMATCH Precision medicine initiative of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for both MDS and AML and is very active within the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) and Early Therapy Clinical Trial Network (ETCTN) in working on early phase clinical trials of novel therapies for myeloid malignancies. Dr. Zeidan has presented his research in many meetings and has been an invited speaker nationally and internationally. He regularly reviews abstracts for the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meetings and chairs meeting sessions. He has been presented on MDS in the ASH Annual highlights meetings in USA and Asia-Pacific as well as the ASH Meeting on Hematologic Malignancies. He is also active within the International Working Group (IWG) of MDS and has previously served on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines panel for MDS. Dr. Zeidan has received several prestigious awards including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Scholar in Clinical Research award, the National Cancer Institute Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership award, the AAMDSIF/Evan’s Foundation-MDS Clinical Research Consortium Fellowship award, the Tito Bastianello Young Investigator Award, the ASCO Young Investigator Award, and multiple other achievement awards. Dr. Zeidan also serves on the editorial board and is a reviewer of several important hematology and oncology journals. He is an author on more than 260 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters.

Lymphoma Leader

  • Professor of Medicine (Hematology) and of Dermatology; Director, Multidisciplinary T cell Lymphoma Program, Hematology; Scientific Leader, Lymphoma CRT, Yale Cancer Center

    Dr. Francine Foss, Professor of Medicine in the Section of Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center, is an internationally recognized clinician and clinical researcher with expertise in adult lymphomas and in stem cell transplantation. She has developed and tested therapies that have been used to treat thousands of cancer patients, and her research has substantially impacted the field of stem cell research, benefiting patients at Yale and around the world. Dr. Foss has brought a nationally established clinical trials program to Yale Cancer Center. In her previous position at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston, she designed, initiated, and directed multi-center national clinical trials which led to FDA approval of several novel therapies for lymphomas. One of these, Interleukin-2- Diphtheria toxin fusion protein, was the first FDA-approved fusion protein biologic drug and the first drug to be FDA approved for the treatment of T-cell lymphoma. In her laboratory work, she investigated and elucidated the mechanism by which extracorporeal photopheresis modulated antigen presenting cells, leading to a reduction in graft-vs-host disease in patients undergoing allogeneic stem cell transplant. These findings led to the initiation of two National Cancer Institute-sponsored trials to confirm these results in patients with lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndrome. Dr. Foss is a member of the Stem Cell Therapy clinical program at Smilow Cancer Hospital. Learn more about Dr. Foss>> Dr. Foss is a world expert in T cell Lymphomas. She has pioneered several novel therapies for T cell lymphomas and has been a leader in many national studies. She developed and initiated the first national registry for T cell lymphomas in the United States and is a founder and co-chairman of the T CELL Forum, the preeminent international T cell lymphoma research meeting. She is a co-founder of the United States Cutaneous Lymphoma Consortium and currently serves as its President. She has been a Director of the international T-cell Project to research treatment and biology of T-cell lymphomas and serves on the NCCN panel of experts for T-cell lymphomas. As a translational researcher in T cell Lymphomas, she currently is collaborating with a number of laboratories and scientists at Yale to identify molecular targets in T Cell Lymphoma and recently was awarded a grant through the PITCH program for the state of Connecticut to develop a promising small molecule therapeutic for a rare form of lymphoma. Dr. Foss currently leads the multi-disciplinary T-cell Lymphoma clinical team at the Smilow Cancer Center and co-directs the Cutaneous Lymphoma Program at Yale with Dr. Michael Girardi. Her clinical practice at Smilow Cancer Hospital attracts patients from around the world.

Melanoma Team Leader

  • Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Clinical Research Leader, Melanoma Program; Co-Leader, Cancer Immunology, Yale Cancer Center; Co-Director, Yale SPORE in Skin Cancer

    Dr. Mario Sznol is a Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology). Dr. Sznol, formerly with the National Cancer Institute, has an international reputation in cancer drug development. Dr. Sznol's expertise and experience is in cancer immunotherapy, drug development for cancer, and treatment of patients with melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. He is working to expand the opportunities for clinical trials at the Yale Cancer Center, particularly those focusing on immunotherapy and novel agents.Learn more about Dr. Mario Sznol>>

Myeloma Team Leader

  • Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Hematology); Research Leader, Myeloma Program, Hematology

    Dr. Neparidze obtained her medical degree from Aieti Medical School in Tbilisi, Georgia in 2000. She subsequently completed Postdoctoral Research Fellowships at Emory, Northwestern and Yale Universities, followed by Internal Medicine Residency and Hematology/Medical Oncology Fellowship at Yale University. She has served as an assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine, Medical Oncology/Hematology since 2012.  She specializes in multiple myeloma, monoclonal gammopathies, AL amyloidosis, Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia.  Dr. Neparidze has developed multiple research projects in myeloma, including a number of investigator-initiated therapeutic clinical trials. She collaborates with other researchers nationally and internationally, serve as a PI and co-PI on multiple therapeutic clinical trials and leads several clinical outcomes studies in patients with myeloma. She serves as the leader of the Yale Myeloma Research team.  Her ongoing research directions include use of advanced imaging and evaluating tumor heterogeneity to enhance precision medicine approaches for myeloma, novel combination immunotherapy strategies and MRD-driven therapies in myeloma, as well as studying biology and clinical outcomes of monoclonal gammopathies in association with metabolic, viral and other co-morbidities, investigating mechanisms of tumor progression and resistance in myeloma. Dr. Neparidze is actively involved in educational process, teaching Hematology/Oncology fellows, medical students, residents and colleagues at Yale and in community. Learn more about Dr. Neparidze>>

Neuro-Oncology Team Leader

  • Assistant Professor

    Nicholas A. Blondin, MD, is Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology at Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Blondin cares for patients at Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven and the Smilow Cancer Hospital Cancer Care Center in Trumbull. He received his Medical Degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and completed his neurology residency at Yale New Haven Hospital, where he was Chief Resident in Neurology, followed by a fellowship in Neuro-Oncology at Yale New Haven Hospital. Before joining Smilow, he was the Director of the Neuro-Oncology Program at Associated Neurologists of Southern CT and the Medical Director of the St. Vincent’s Brain Tumor Center. Watch a video with Dr. Nicholas Blondin>>Dr. Blondin’s clinical expertise is in treating benign and malignant brain tumors, brain and spine metastasis, and neurological symptoms of cancer, such as seizures, cognitive impairment, headaches, gait disturbance, and weakness. Dr. Blondin is an active investigator for clinical trials for brain tumor patients through Yale Cancer Center.
  • Professor Adjunct; Chief, Neuro-Oncology; Clinical Trials Director, Chenevert Family Brain Tumor Center at Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center

    Dr. Omuro is the chief of the Division of Neuro-Oncology and Director of the Yale Brain Tumor Center. He is a graduate and former faculty of the Neuro-Oncology program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Dr. Omuro is an internationally renowned leader in clinical care and research in the field of brain tumors, having led pivotal research projects and clinical trials to advance the treatment of these difficult cancers.

Pediatrics Team Leader

  • Professor of Pediatrics (Hematology/Oncology); Fellowship Director, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Program; Director, Solid Tumor Program, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Program; Children's Oncology Group Site PI, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Program

    Dr Farzana Pashankar is an accomplished pediatric hematologist oncologist, specializing in care of children with sickle cell disease and solid tumors. She is an international expert in germ cell tumors and rare tumors. Her research has focused on clinical trial development through Children's Oncology Group, and she is the Chair and Vice Chair of international trials in germ cell tumors. Dr Pashankar is Director of Pediatric Solid Tumor Program, Disease Aligned Research Team Leader for Pediatrics at Smilow Cancer Center and Director of the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Fellowship Program. Dr Pashankar received her MBBS and MD from University of Pune, India. She trained in United Kingdom, receiving an MRCP. She subsequently did a residency at University of Iowa and fellowship at British Columbia Children's Hospital, before joining Yale in 2005.

Phase I Team Leader

  • Amy and Joseph Perella Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Chief, Experimental Therapeutics; Associate Cancer Center Director, Experimental Therapeutics

    Pat LoRusso brings more than 25 years of expertise in medical oncology, drug development, and early phase clinical trials. Prior to her Yale appointment, she served in numerous leadership roles at Wayne State University’s Barbara Karmanos Cancer Institute, most recently as director of the Phase I Clinical Trials Program and of the Eisenberg Center for Experimental Therapeutics.

Genitourinary Team Leader

  • Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology) and of Urology; Chief, Genitourinary Oncology

    As Professor of Medicine and Urology at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Daniel P. Petrylak is a pioneer in the research and development of new drugs and treatments to fight prostate, bladder, kidney and testicular cancer. For patients fighting these types of cancers, Petrylak finds recent developments in the field of immunotherapy particularly promising. “Up until recently, bladder cancer had not seen any major advancement in more than 30 years,” he says. “Studies are ongoing, but interim results are exciting so far.” At the Smilow Cancer Hospital, Dr. Petrylak’s position as a national leader on clinical trials for men with prostate and bladder cancer has opened up a world of treatment options for patients in New England. “We offer the latest investigational drugs for these conditions, while providing the highest level of care,” he says. Dr. Petrylak received his MD from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and joined the Yale faculty in 2012. In addition to his role as professor, he is also a member of the Cancer Signaling Networks Research Program at Yale Cancer Center, which studies how cancer stem cells are regulated in the body and communicate with surrounding tissue. Roughly 40 physicians and scientists in the program work together to develop the best methods for matching patients with the appropriate cancer drugs. One of Dr. Petrylak’s key goals is to continue to successfully translate basic research into clinical practice. “One of the most significant accomplishments in my career was moving docetaxel (an antineoplastic agent) therapy for the most advanced form of prostate cancer from phase I to III,” he says. “We ran a trial which supported its approval for the most advanced form of prostate cancer.” Dr. Petrylak currently serves as either the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on seven Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) clinical trials for genitourinary cancers. To date, he has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles on prostate and bladder cancer research.

Thoracic Team Leader

  • Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Medical Oncology); Associate Director, Medical Oncology-Hematology Program; Research Director, Center for Thoracic Cancers; Chief, Thoracic Oncology

    Dr. Sarah Goldberg is an Associate Professor of Medicine in the section of Medical Oncology at the Yale School of Medicine. As a thoracic oncologist she cares for patients with cancers of the chest including lung cancer, mesothelioma and thymoma. She is the Division Chief of Thoracic Oncology, the Research Director for the Center for Thoracic Cancers, and the Associate Program Director for the Medical Oncology-Hematology Fellowship Program at Yale.  She received her medical degree from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and completed a Masters in Public Health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. She conducts clinical and translational research on lung cancer with a focus on investigating biomarkers and novel treatment strategies in non-small cell lung cancer. Her specific research interests include EGFR mutation positive lung cancer, immunotherapeutics for lung cancer, and brain metastases.  Learn more about Dr. Sarah Goldberg>>