Moving always bring change. When a top myeloma expert makes one, it creates opportunities for patients as well as new possibilities for collaborative research.
Dr. C. Ola Landgren moved to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (Sylvester) at the University of Miami, Florida from New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) on November 1, 2020. We asked Dr. Landgren, a Myeloma Crowd Scientific Advisor, about his plans for the future and how it might impact his research and clinical practice.
Myeloma Crowd: What opportunities do you think Sylvester presents for your research interests and goals?
Dr. Landgren: Sylvester is the only National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated cancer center in South Florida. My genomic laboratory from MSKCC is moving with me and we are currently setting everything up. In addition to serving as leader of the Myeloma Program, I will serve as the inaugural leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program, a new translational research program. Our focus is to develop transformative strategies and curative therapies in cancer. This is a great opportunity to intensify the connections between strong laboratory research, leverage innovation, and translate results to the clinic and achieve better patient outcomes. We plan to develop several innovative clinical trials, new biomarkers, and novel MRD (minimal residual disease) assays.
I have recruited several strong faculty members. Some have already relocated to Miami and the others will be here by the end of the holiday season. We are already focusing on gaps in the medical literature how these impact clinical needs. We are challenging ourselves to develop disruptive ideas as we try to progress as fast as we can. I am very excited about the opportunities!
Myeloma Crowd: You discussed your immune-PET study in a recent Myeloma Crowd Round Table webcast and it generated a number of inquiries from patients who are interested in participating. Can you update its status for us?
Dr. Landgren: We will soon open our second generation immune-PET study which is based on my team’s work at MSKCC, where we completed a phase 1 study. It was published a few months ago in the Journal Radiology. The next step is a phase 2 study developed by my longtime colleague, Dr. Gary Ulaner, and me. We developed a clinical trial to image patients to identify and characterize any MRD after therapy. This study will open at two sites: Sylvester and the Hoag Family Cancer Institute in Orange County, California, where Dr. Ulaner now practices. We anticipate having the protocol approved by a Sylvester review committee before Thanksgiving. Once the review and approval are completed, we hope start enrolling patients in early January 2021.
Myeloma Crowd: What are some of your collaborative goals with your new colleagues at Sylvester?
Dr. Landgren: We want to strengthen our Myeloma Program quickly. We have the infrastructure—instruments, machines, and lab space—we need. We have access to the full range of drug treatments. Moreover, we have talented colleagues. The focus now is on scaling up everything while maintaining the top quality needed to build a large program, important things I learned in my prior jobs at MSKCC and NCI. My goal is to build one of the top three myeloma programs in the U.S. within the next five years. And we will continue to collaborate with my colleagues at MSKCC, throughout the U.S., and internationally.
Myeloma Crowd: Miami has historically been known as the U.S. gateway to Latin America. Does this have any impact on your work or future plans?
Dr. Landgren: Absolutely! Miami is a large international city with a major airport that has many connections to Latin America. At Sylvester, we are building a strong platform for myeloma patients in Latin America. We offer all types of advanced work-up, the most modern treatments, and the all the latest MRD tools. Latin America patients who come here will receive all these services. We can also work remotely and collaborate with local doctors in the nations where patients live.
Myeloma Crowd: How can patients who are not in South Florida connect with you?
Dr. Landgren: The COVID pandemic has forced us to learn how to connect with patients throughout the U.S. and in other nations. I have many patients from the New York City area, the Midwest, California, Europe, the Middle East, India, and elsewhere. It is amazing how well telemedicine works; we can consult with patients around the world.
Patients who want to connect with me at Sylvester can set up new telehealth visits by contacting my coordinator at either +1-305-243-2905 or 1-844-324-4673.
Myeloma Crowd: What are your first impressions of the Miami community?
Dr. Landgren: It is a gorgeous city. The proximity to the ocean, all the green parks and gardens—they are all fantastic. People are friendly, the food is outstanding. I like the international vibe very much. But I need to practice and improve my Spanish!
about the author
Greg Brozeit has been engaged in myeloma patient advocacy since 1998. He began working with the Myeloma Crowd in 2015. Prior to that, he consulted with Dr. Bart Barlogie at the University of Arkansas after working with the International Myeloma Foundation for 15 years, where he inaugurated the public policy advocacy program, patient support group outreach and IMF Europe, organizing more than 100 physician and patient education programs. He earned his BA in political science from Loyola University in New Orleans and lives in northeast Ohio.