Joshua Brody, MD
Joshua Brody, MD is an Assistant Professor in Hematology and Medical Oncology and the Director of the Lymphoma Immunotherapy Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He is also a member of the Lymphoma Research Foundation's (LRF's) Mantle Cell Lymphoma Consortium (MCLC) and an LRF Career Development Award (CDA) grant recipient.
He received his MD from State University of New York (SUNY) Stony Brook School of Medicine and his BA in molecular and cellular biology from Harvard University. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital and his fellowship in Medical Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine. With clinical focus in chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL), cutaneous lymphomas, follicular lymphoma (FL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), and post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD), his lab at the Mount Sinai focuses on basic and applied tumor immunology.
The opportunity to work with a wide variety of patients (young and old, men and women, rich and poor, some incurable with standard therapies and some curable) was what originally drew Dr. Brody to the field of lymphoma. "Another big factor in my decision was the opportunity to work with mentors who were both brilliant and incredibly caring: Saul Rosenberg, Ronald Levy, and Ranjana Advani," he said. Today Dr. Brody remains engaged due to the rate of development of novel, effective, and more specifically targeted therapies in lymphoma, perhaps even more than most oncologic sub-specialties. "Most of these therapies come from our improved understanding of the molecular and cellular nature of lymphoma cells," he said.
When advising a newly diagnosed patient, Dr. Brody compares a good physician to a good car mechanic. "Your doctor needs to talk to you, answer your questions, and be trustworthy, so much so that you know they are not going to sell you a new alternator when all you need is to replace a fuse," he explained. "There are so many unanswered questions in lymphoma so patients need to find a physician whom they trust will come up with the best answers for them, as individuals, and acknowledge that they are not only patients, but also people."
Dr. Brody's current research focuses on two areas: lymphoma immunotherapy and a class of targeted therapies called B-cell receptor signaling inhibitors. One type of immunotherapy is cancer vaccines. "We developed an approach called 'in situ vaccination' in which an immune stimulant is injected directly into one lymphoma tumor, but can then induce an anti-tumor immune response which travels throughout the body to eliminate tumors systemically," he said. "We have treated over 60 patients with this approach and seen some remarkable and long-lasting remissions. The next steps are to find ways to make this approach even more powerful and this is a current focus of our laboratory."
Dr. Brody finds novel therapies which block the B-cell receptor signal pathways which lymphoma cells need to survive as one the most exciting things happening in the field today. "The furthest along amongst these therapies are 'PI3K-delta inhibitors' and 'btk inhibitors,'" he said. "These are both oral medications that patients take each day (not unlike blood pressure or cholesterol medicines) that appear quite effective in inducing lymphoma remissions without the standard side effects of chemotherapy."
His LRF CDA is what he described as "the first acknowledgement that his idea of pursuing a novel immune-based therapy for MCL could gain acceptance from experts in the field." Giving him the time and opportunity to develop an idea called 'immunotransplant' in an animal model, the LRF CDA enabled his team to develop a clinical trial. "Preliminary results from that trial have been quite encouraging to demonstrate the same effect we observed in the animal model: that immunotransplant amplifies anti-tumor immune cells," he said. "The fact that this work is still going forward, years later, is one sign that it has a great potential from the beginning. The LRF saw that potential and allowed us to develop it."
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