The scope of the department's research investigates early detection, treatment, and recovery. To accomplish our goals, we enlist the collaboration of the field's foremost experts; our teams include, and work alongside experts in the fields of pathology, urology, medical oncology, computational biology and molecular biology.
The department's translational research includes basic science, as well as patient-focused research. This further includes collaboration in the development of treatment plans among physicians, often including the implementation of research studies and their results, as informative tools in decision making. The goal of translational research is to use multi-disciplinary basic and clinical science to enhance management and care by aiding practitioners in informed decision making.
Many faculty members in Urology are also active researchers at the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell, and are working to develop new technologies & applications for urologic cancer treatment & prevention. More information on multi-disciplinary cancer care and bench-to-bedside research applications can be found on the Meyer Cancer Center website.
Our department is home to the newly-established Center for Prostate Cancer Imaging, Diagnosis and Focused Therapy.
The Center for Prostate Cancer Imaging, Diagnosis and Focused Therapy is a comprehensive home where patients have access to the latest techniques for evaluation and treatment of prostate cancer. The Center is leading the country in providing a new understanding of prostate cancer evaluation and treatment. The Center provides research that spans the breadth of laboratory science, translational research and clinical trials. Research activities support tissue banking, genomics, outcomes data, cancer registries and the development of novel diagnostics, drugs and related technology. Working with a multidisciplinary team of urologists, radiologists, medical oncologists, pathologists, radiation oncologists, and other surgeons, the Center provides compassionate evaluation and personalized care for men with prostate cancer, the most common cancer in American men after skin cancer. Research shows that prostate cancer is not just one disease, but a series of unique diseases, and treatment must be individualized for each unique patient. The Center's goal is to take translational medicine and individualized prostate cancer treatments to the next level.
Dr. Scherr is currently the Clinical Director of Urologic Oncology. In this role, he maintains a very active clinical practice in Urologic Oncology. Combining experienced technical skills with a deep understanding of the disease, Dr. Scherr is able to individualize care and maximize both oncological and functional outcomes. He is an active investigator and part of a focused team of researchers investigating various components of clinical and scientific aspects of urologic cancers. In particular, he is the PI on the Early Detection Research Network (EDRN), an initiative that began as an NIH-sponsored collaboration with Harvard Medical School and the University of Michigan Medical School in 2007. This multi-institutional effort for biomarker discovery in prostate cancer has grown under his leadership. He performs in excess of 200 prostatectomies per year, and this activity serves to support an active and robust tissue bank. Since its conception, his work has resulted in the enrollment of thousands of patients, and the development of novel biomarkers.
The research in biomarkers extends beyond prostate cancer, with Dr. Scherr leading his team in analysis of bladder, kidney, and upper tract urothelial carcinoma. This work supports and utilizes tissue microarray and laboratory facilities in urologic oncology. The greater understanding of the biological makeup of cancer garnered through this work is a key element in advancing treatment.
Another focus of the department's work is on developing new drugs and devices to assist in cancer detection and treatment. Within Weill Cornell's Department of Urology, Dr. Neil Bander works on the development of monoclonal antibodies as targeting mechanisms for the detection of urologic cancers. Recent studies have demonstrated that a molecule developed by Dr. Bander, J591, has shown to be effective in the imaging of prostate cancer throughout the body. In addition to successful targeting, a significant proportion of the patients have evidence of anti-tumor activity such as PSA declines and tumor shrinkage of up to 90 percent.
Dr. Bander's group developed the first series of monoclonal antibodies to prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) that could bind viable prostate cancer cells. In part as a result of Dr. Bander’s efforts, PSMA has become recognized as the most prostate-cancer specific cell surface antigen known.
The research performed at Weill Cornell Medicine's LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery focuses on developing groundbreaking assessment and screening strategies for detecting prostate cancer. Dr. Jim C. Hu, Director of the LeFrak Center for Robotic Surgery and the Ronald P. Lynch Chair in Urologic Oncology, is internationally renowned as an innovator in robotic and minimally invasive surgery. He has published over 120 peer reviewed journal articles and has revolutionized technical advances in this field from bladder neck preservation to nerve sparing techniques which are now commonly used during robotic assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy. Currently, the center is evaluating MRI-guided biopsies and other novel modalities to formulate a more accurate plan to diagnose prostate cancer. Furthermore, the center is working on the development of new surgical instruments for better outcomes during surgical procedures. Other research is underway to assess new ways to improve functional outcomes following radical prostatectomy by modifying technical standards.
Dr. Barbieri is a urologic surgeon-scientist, whose long-term goal is to develop a greater understanding of the biological and clinical specifics of prostate cancer, a disease about which a great deal remains unknown. His research raises the possibility that prostate cancer could transition from a poorly-understood disease with a variable clinical course to a disease with well-developed and specific criteria for classification, resulting in targeted plans for care and treatment.
Dr. Barbieri has been a leader in the field of molecular classification of prostate cancer. He is a key part of a collaborative, multi-institutional, multidisciplinary team working to explore this field. His work in this area has contributed to studies focused on evaluation of biomarkers utilized for the diagnosis of prostate cancer, for differentiating aggressive from indolent prostate cancer, and as predictors of therapeutic response. His translational science laboratory continues to deploy cutting edge technology to identify molecular alterations in prostate cancer and other urologic malignancies and define their importance for patient cancer. He has been first author on eight review articles and editorials on this topic, and he serves on the Editorial Board of the top urology journal, European Urology, providing guidance and expertise in this area.
Dr. Barbieri's research has been recognized with awards and funding from multiple organizations, including the Prostate Cancer Foundation, National Cancer Institute, American Association for Cancer Research, and AUA-Urology Care Foundation.
The department's outside collaboration involves working with industry leaders in testing various drugs and devices, with the goal of bringing these tools to market. These devices range from tests for bladder cancer, to radionuclide imaging techniques for prostate cancer.
We are also interested in examining surgical outcomes, with the aim of improving quality of life following interventional treatments. With this end in mind, we have developed a number of studies to explore various factors involved in post-surgical recovery rates. These studies range from analysis and interpretation of health and lifestyle data, to interventional studies to determine if the alteration of a patient's diet can impact the rates of recovery.
To further these research goals, our physicians have trained numerous residents and fellows in urologic oncology, who focus on data interpretation and analysis, database development, and have rigorous experience publishing manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.