Who Owns Personalized Medicine? Answer: Pathologists for now…

Written by: JamieThalmann

Published on:
August 17th, 2016

Pathologists are occupying an ever more critical station in the continuum of care between patients and oncologists as innovation in both diagnostics and therapies continue to advance at an accelerating rate. The AML patient who would have been placed directly on chemotherapy just a few years ago, now may be identified for bone marrow transplant and a number of biomarker driven clinical trials. Pathologists now collaborate with medical oncologists to match patients with targeted therapies based on genetic mutations or specific molecular characteristics. The rapid pace of development in high-throughput NGS has defined new boundaries for pathology, beyond the traditional imaging technologies and now pathologists are tasked with integrating data across multiple modalities. Pathologists are rapidly becoming the bridge between the clinic and translational research.

At Cancer Genetics our pathology medical directors curate data and make calls that determine enrollment and treatment protocols consistent with clinical trial designs. Within CGI we have recognized the critical roll our medical directors play in our partnerships with biopharma and have invested in cultivating a pathology team with technological depth and drive for executing systems approach in cancer care. Our two newest pathologists Dr. Daniel Duncan, and Dr. Boaz Kurtis exemplify the expertise the CGI team employs toward facilitating the connection between clinical and laboratory medicine. Find out more about the talents and passions Dr. Duncan and Dr. Kurtis are bringing to CGI’s industry leading group of medical directors.

Dr. Boaz Kurtis took a somewhat non-traditional route to pathology. He originally developed a passion for the role of technologists in healthcare while conducting 3D mapping studies for Biosense Webster a medical device company and wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Dr. Kurtis joined CGI with the ambition to pursue the horizon of discovery in next-generation sequencing, born out of the technological innovation of the genomics era. One of Dr. Boaz’s chief goals is to clarify the treatment landscape for oncologists. He actively works to refine the rigorous quality-control review of massive sequencing datasets and improve the utility of data filtration algorithms. CGI’s emphasis on harnessing multiple technological platforms within a single laboratory system was a natural fit for Dr. Kurtis approach to clinical practice. He joined our team in July and is based full time at our Rutherford, New Jersey headquarters.

Similarly, Dr. Daniel Duncan is motivated by the inherent tension between patient facing clinical care and laboratory medicine. He has a desire to make systems medicine work to actualize personalized medicine for patients and has seen the rapid impact new biomarker technologies are having on people’s lives first hand at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Molecular Pathology Lab. Dr. Duncan has worked in the past on pivotal studies in germline and whole exome sequencing that have contributed to the development of current ACMG guidelines. The rapid pace of technological change makes this a particularly exciting time for Dr. Duncan to be joining the CGI team. One of Dr. Duncan’s key focuses is hematological cancer and he has a focused interest in developing NGS tools that can track and predict fluid mutational signatures over time. Dr. Duncan is currently based full time at our Research Triangle Park, North Carolina laboratory and biobanking facility.

There are no stakes higher in medical care than those in oncology. Whether it is a one on one discussion with an oncologist about an individual patient’s case or screening hundreds of patients for enrollment in a clinical trial our medical directors are there at the junction of personalized medicine. Get to know CGI’s medical directors and start a conversation with the practitioners developing the data determining your outcomes.