Columbia’s Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) is one of only 47 comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S. and one of the first to be designated by the National Cancer Institute for its capabilities in both cancer research and clinical care. Oncologists at HICCC treat 4,000 new cancer patients each year.
Discoveries made by our researchers have fundamentally altered our understanding of cancer. They identified key tumor suppressor and oncogenes, including PTEN and BCL6, which have led to new targeted therapies for kidney cancer and lymphoma. The idea that cancers are “addicted to oncogenes”—a concept that drives current-day cancer treatment strategies—was first formulated by HICCC scientists. And CUMC researchers devised a method to introduce genes into animal cells, a technique that made it possible to uncover thousands of cancer genes and create new cancer drugs.
Today, the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center is home to more than 280 cancer researchers and clinicians who continue that tradition of innovation to bring more precise treatments to patients. Using the latest techniques in DNA sequencing, HICCC scientists are analyzing thousands of cells from an individual tumor to get a read-out of each cell to more precisely decipher a patient’s tumor type. HICCC researchers are borrowing mathematical modeling techniques to identify the cells in a tumor that generate metastases. And using new algorithms developed at HICCC, Columbia oncologists can identify the molecules that drive each patient’s cancer and select treatments that will target those drivers.