May 9, 2013

Arteaga to lead major new cancer research initiatives

Carlos Arteaga, M.D., professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology, has been appointed to lead two newly created cancer research initiatives at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Carlos Arteaga, M.D., has been appointed to lead two major new cancer research initiatives at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. (photo by Joe Howell)

Carlos Arteaga, M.D., professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology, has been appointed to lead two newly created cancer research initiatives at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.
He has been named the founding director of the Center for Cancer Targeted Therapies (CCTT) and director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Research Network (VICCRN).

The CCTT is an extension of the Cancer Center’s expertise in personalized medicine. Through the VICC Personalized Cancer Medicine Initiative, translational and clinical investigators focus on genomic signatures in a patient’s tumor and use that information to match the patient to a targeted therapy.

The CCTT will leverage the strengths of the Personalized Cancer Medicine Initiative, along with the VICC Phase 1 Program, led by Jordan Berlin, M.D., Ingram Professor of Cancer Research.

The new CCTT will also harness the capabilities of the Institute of Imaging Science and the Division of Interventional Oncology in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences.

“Our programs in Personalized Medicine are strategic institutional assets and are internationally recognized among the world’s most progressive and successful,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“With Dr. Arteaga’s leadership for these newly created programs complementing our Personalized Cancer Medicine Initiative, we expect amazing results that will bring significant advancements in patient care and scientific discovery.”

The overall goal of the new initiative is to integrate the “first-in-man” drug development efforts at VICC with state-of-the-art molecular profiling of tumors and novel imaging approaches that predict drug action and efficacy. The net outcome of this integration will be an expansion of VICC clinical trials that should contribute to faster approval of new targeted drugs and combination therapies for cancer patients.

“This is very exciting to me because it represents an opportunity to incorporate the mechanistic sciences with imaging and with drug development, using predictive molecular biomarkers,” said Arteaga, who holds the Donna S. Hall Chair in Breast Cancer.

“All of these are local strengths at Vanderbilt. Thus, I think it’s time that we make a concerted effort to integrate all of these strengths into something that can accelerate the clinical development of drugs and combination therapies. The creation of this center represents a very clear message that reaffirms the commitment of our center to drug development in cancer for the benefit of patients.”

The CCTT will place renewed emphasis on the Phase I clinical trials program and will create more research and training opportunities for basic, translational and clinical investigators.

The new VICCRN will create a regional cancer research consortium by providing clinical research opportunities between VICC investigators and affiliate partners in Tennessee and surrounding states.

As director, Arteaga will work closely with leaders of the health care systems that provide care to thousands of cancer patients in the region.

“The VICCRN provides an opportunity to expand our mission as the only National Cancer Institute-designated center focusing on adult cancer in Tennessee,” said Arteaga. “I think this will allow us to really expand our accrual to clinical trials and to uphold our responsibility to make clinical research accessible to patients in the region.”

“This is an opportunity for Carlos to provide his expertise and leadership over a much larger region in the Southeast, and we anticipate his leadership will be transformational,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., director of VICC.

Arteaga currently serves as associate director for Clinical Research, director of the Breast Cancer Program and leader of the Breast Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in the Cancer Center.

He is also an influential and respected investigator whose work has been recognized at the national and international levels. He was recently named president-elect of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for 2013-2014.

Arteaga is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award, the American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Award, the Gianni Bonadonna Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and the Clinical Investigator Award from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. He is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians and the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Arteaga received his medical degree in 1980 from the Facultad de Ciencias Médicas at the Universidad de Guayaquil in Ecuador. Following an internal medicine residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Arteaga completed a fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1989.