Carlo M. Croce, MD, PhD
The Ohio State University has recruited world-renowned physician-researcher Carlo M. Croce, MD, to direct OSU’s nationally recognized Human Cancer Genetics Program, which was initiated and built by another world-renowned cancer researcher, Albert de la Chapelle, MD, PhD.
Croce will chair the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics. In addition, the University has plans to create an Institute of Genetics, and Croce will be instrumental in that process. His appointment takes effect Oct. 1, 2004.
Croce, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, studies the molecular changes in genes that lead to cancer. He is particularly interested in the early changes of malignancy and how they might serve as targets for new treatment and preventive agents. He has also discovered a number of cancer-related genes, including BCL2, ALL1, TCL1, FHIT and LZTS1.
“Carlo Croce is a brilliant researcher whose work has revealed the variety of mutated genes—oncogenes—that are involved in leukemias, lymphomas and other cancers,”
says Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. “His findings have greatly expanded our understanding of cancer and the process of programmed cell death, and his work has provided important tools for patient management.”
Croce is currently director of the Kimmel Cancer Institute/Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia. He was drawn to Ohio State by the OSU cancer program’s efforts to facilitate collaborations between physician-scientists and laboratory scientists to improve patient care, by the directorship of the planned Institute of Genetics and by the opportunity to direct OSU’s Human Cancer Genetics Program.
The Human Cancer Genetics Program (HCGP) was started in 1997 by de la Chapelle, the Leonard J. Immke, Jr. and Charlotte L. Immke Professor of Cancer Genetics. De La Chapelle is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
The HCGP has since grown to include 16 faculty members, 150 full-time staff and up to 50 students. Faculty conduct both clinical and basic research. Basic research projects focus on how genes are activated and inactivated, how cell-growth signals are transmitted and regulated within cells, and how cells interact with the immune system. Clinical research focuses on discovering genes linked to cancer and mutations that predispose people to cancer.
“This recruitment is an excellent manifestation of OSU’s continuing to strive upward,” de la Chapelle says. “Dr. Croce’s arrival signals the initiation of the second and crucial phase in Ohio State’s development of national and international excellence in cancer genetics.”
De la Chapelle will remain at OSU and continue his research, working closely with Croce. He will become the second OSU Cancer Scholar, enabling him to further expand his research program.
Croce also will succeed Caroline C. Whitacre, PhD, as chair of the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics. Whitacre will continue to focus, with expanded responsibilities, on her two other critical leadership roles as vice dean of research in the College of Medicine and Public Health, and as associate vice president for research in the Office of Health Sciences. She also will maintain her successful research program on immunological aspects of multiple sclerosis. Whitacre’s leadership over the past few years has played a key role in the significant increases in research funding and productivity in the Medical Center.
Croce’s standing in the cancer-research community is readily shown by the awards he has been given. “Carlo has received almost every significant award for cancer research one can earn,” says David E. Schuller, MD, executive director of the OSU Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. “They include two Outstanding Investigator awards from the National Cancer Institute, the Rosenthal Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, the John Scott Award, the Pasarow Foundation Cancer Award, the GM Cancer Research Foundation Charles S. Mott Prize and many others.”
In 2003 Croce became a member of the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze, detta dei XL, the Italian National Academy of Science. Currently, Croce is principal investigator on four federal research grants and has more than 650 published research papers.
Croce has also served as an external adviser to the OSU cancer program since 1988, providing him an intimate view of the program’s growth.
“I strongly believe that the OSU cancer program is developing into one of the nation ’s foremost leaders in cancer research,” Croce says. “My strength in cancer-gene discovery complements the strengths at the OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center. Together, we will work to develop novel and successful approaches to cancer prevention, diagnosis, monitoring and treatment based on gene-target discovery, verification and rational drug development.”
The benefits of Croce’s arrival at the OSU medical center extend far beyond the cancer program.
“Dr. Croce’s recruitment adds to our already strong programs in microbiology, molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics, as well as in human cancer genetics,” says Fred Sanfilippo, MD, PhD, senior vice president and executive dean for health sciences at Ohio State, dean of Ohio State’s College of Medicine and Public Health and CEO of OSU Medical Center. “We have recruited stellar investigators in these areas during the past few years, and with Carlo’s added leadership these teams of researchers, educators and clinicians will provide even greater benefits to patients, students, and the scientific world.”
Croce’s appointment is part of the University’s ongoing effort to build a world-class faculty, says Ohio State University President Karen A. Holbrook, PhD. “His work is legendary, and to attract a scientist who is as world-renowned as Dr. Croce speaks volumes for the strength of the programs already here at Ohio State. His research will catalyze new partnerships and relationships across the scientific community, and I join others in expressing great enthusiasm for this very important addition to our faculty.”
A native of Milan, Italy, Croce earned his medical degree, summa cum laude, in 1969 from the School of Medicine, University of Rome. He began his career in the United States the following year as an associate scientist at the Wistar Institute of Biology and Anatomy in Philadelphia. In 1980, he was named Wistar Professor of Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania and associate director of the Wistar Institute, titles he held until 1988.
From 1988-91, he was director of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. In 1991, he was named director of the Kimmel Cancer Center.
“The recruitment of Carlo advances the cancer program’s expansion plan, as well as supports our strategic plan, ” Schuller says. “That plan includes selective investment in experimental therapeutics, chemoprevention and human cancer genetics research. Carlo will contribute to all three, and we are fortunate to have him join our team.”
“Clearly, Carlo is one of the top cancer scientists in the world today,” Caligiuri says. “His genetic discoveries have often caused us to stop in our tracks and start thinking differently. We are excited and pleased to welcome him to the OSU cancer program.”