October 24, 2019

Urologic cancer expert Rini joins VICC as chief of Clinical Trials

Brian Rini, MD, an internationally recognized leader in genitourinary oncology, kidney cancer, and clinical drug development, is joining Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center as the inaugural chief of Clinical Trials.

Brian Rini, MD, an internationally recognized leader in genitourinary oncology, kidney cancer, and clinical drug development, is joining Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) as the inaugural chief of Clinical Trials.

Brian Rini, MD

Rini was recruited from the Cleveland Clinic, where he currently serves as director of the Genitourinary Cancer Program and professor of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. His start date is Jan. 28, 2020.  At Vanderbilt, he will be an Ingram Professor of Medicine and will lead kidney cancer clinical research efforts, in addition to the  new role, which will focus on expanding oncology clinical research operations and training opportunities in clinical cancer research across the board.

“We are very excited to have Brian Rini join the division. He not only helps to further strengthen our outstanding urologic oncology team, but his expertise in clinical trials management will bring new opportunities for all clinical researchers at VICC,” said Jordan Berlin, MD, associate director for Clinical Research at VICC and Ingram Professor of Cancer Research.

Rini will join Berlin and Vicki Keedy, MD, MSCI, associate professor of Medicine and medical director of the Clinical Trials Office, in the leadership of oncology clinical trial operations.

Rini served as chair of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018-2019 and completed a four-year term on that committee. He was a founding member of the Kidney Cancer Programmatic Panel for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, spearheading the launch of what is now the largest source of kidney cancer research support in the nation, directing more than $20 million in grant funding to kidney cancer basic, translational and clinical investigations.

“I’m thrilled to have Dr. Rini on board,” said Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine and director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology. “Brian is an international leader in genitourinary oncology, and oncology drug development.

“He is a key opinion leader in clinical investigation and leads innovative clinical trials that advance the treatments of cancer, as well as creates opportunities to bring robust biomarkers into the clinical management of kidney cancer patients. Most importantly, he’s an effective and thoughtful mentor and a genuinely wonderful physician.”

The FDA in April approved the combination of the targeted therapy axitinib and the immunotherapy pembrolizumab after results of a clinical trial were published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Rini, who was the lead author of that study, has had more than 280 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, including The Lancet, JAMA, Cancer and Journal of the National Cancer Institute. He is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer and British Journal of Urology.

“Dr. Rini is an exceptional physician investigator who is internationally respected for his practice-changing research in genitourinary oncology,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, Executive Vice President for Research at VUMC and director of VICC. “He will bring leadership and excellence in clinical investigation to Vanderbilt-Ingram.”

A native of Cleveland, Rini received his medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and then completed his residency in internal medicine in 1998 followed by a three-year fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He was an assistant professor of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco from 2001 to 2005 when he left to join Cleveland Clinic.

“I’m excited to come to Vanderbilt,” Rini said. “It’s a big move for me away from my hometown and family, but I am ready for a change. I think the potential at Vanderbilt is unbelievable. I’ve known Kim Rathmell for over 20 years, so as I was starting to think about other opportunities, I reached out to her for advice as a friend and colleague. We both have been extensively involved with kidney cancer research for many years. I think we will be a strong pairing to make an even bigger impact in patients’ lives.”

Rini will be moving to Nashville with his wife, Amalia “Mali,” and their two sons, one who is a college student and the other a junior in high school.

“Vanderbilt is a great opportunity,” he said. “There are so many researchers at Vanderbilt engaged in kidney cancer and immunotherapy that we are poised to make some major breakthroughs in the disease. There have already been some major breakthroughs, but we are still not curing every patient, so we still have a long way to go. I know we are going to do great things.”