Researcher Spotlight: Jacob Soumerai, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center

 

Dr. Soumerai is a doctor at of Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. His Lymphoma Clinical Research Mentoring Project (LCRMP) will test BGB-3111 and ME-401 as a combination therapy in B-cell lymphomas and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). BGB-3111 inhibits Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) and ME-401 inhibits phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase δ (PI3Kδ), two signaling proteins that are critical to tumor cell growth and survival.

First-in-class inhibitors of PI3Kδ (idelalisib) and BTK (ibrutinib) have been highly effective in lymphoma patients, but as Dr. Soumerai notes “complete responses are uncommon and require continuous therapy, and therapy is frequently discontinued for toxicity or disease progression.” Dr. Soumerai and his collaborators hope using these drugs in combination will have a more powerful effect on lymphoma cells, help patients achieve longer progression-free responses, and ultimately avoid the need for continuous therapy.

Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Soumerai studied Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM) with Steven Treon, MD, PhD, at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “We made several important contributions to this field, and I personally felt very proud to have played an important role in research that contributed to our understanding of WM and had a positive impact on patient care,” he says. The experience prompted him to pursue his MD at Tufts University and Internal Medicine Residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He subsequently joined Memorial Sloan Kettering as a clinical fellow where he is mentored by Andrew Zelenetz, MD, PhD (a member of LRF’s Scientific Advisory Board). Dr. Soumerai is looking forward to participating in the LCRMP and the “unique opportunity to be mentored by and learn from successful leaders in the field of lymphoma.”

Dr. Soumerai hopes to develop his career to establish a clinical trials research program focusing on combinations of targeted therapies. “I can think of nothing that would make me happier professionally than a career in which I move the field forward and improve patient care,” he says. “That is the spark that drew me to a career in medicine, and the torch I will carry throughout what I hope will be a long and productive career in the field of lymphoma.”