samuel waxman cancer research foundation assembles scientific brain trust for one-day workshop on Aging, Hematopoiesis and Cancer



The Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation’s new Aging & Cancer grants program progressed on April 30, 2016, when SWCRF scientific leaders SWCRF Founder and CEO Samuel Waxman, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer Jonathan Licht, M.D., and Chief Mission Officer Alan Rosmarin, M.D., organized a one-day workshop titled Aging, Hematopoiesis and Cancer at Mount Sinai Medical Center. Co-sponsored by Syros Pharmaceuticals, the meeting gathered experts in aging and blood malignancies from across the country for scientific exchange that will set the parameters for research projects to be funded by new collaborative grants targeting new therapies for older blood cancer patients. 

Drs. Alan Rosmarin, Samuel Waxman and Jonathan Licht

Following welcoming remarks from Dr. Waxman, keynote speaker Brian K. Kennedy, PhD, CEO and Professor at The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, set the stage for the workshop with a far-ranging overview of the Buck Institute’s scientific observations on Aging and Chronic Disease. Hematopoiesis, the formation of blood cellular components, was front and center during the day’s presentations by 14 scientists who shared insights from their research that would explore the process and its role in the increasing incidence of cancer among older people.

Several salient questions and concepts emerged from the sessions that will be further investigated in projects submitted for funding consideration, including, among others:



  1. What are the relative contributions of the aging stem cell and the microenvironment to age-associated declines in stem cell function? 

  2. There is evidence that the aging hematopoietic system may play a role in the evolution/progression of solid tumors and cardiovascular diseases.  How does the hematopoietic system “communicate” with other organ systems? 

  3. Can cancer studies be improved by using older mice, mouse models of progeria, or mice stressed to provoke more rapid aging? 

  4. Are there common pathways that are deregulated by mutations of epigenetic regulators seen in aging and cancer?

  5. How does the aging cell cope with DNA damage and are DNA repair mechanisms altered with aging?

  6. What metabolic alterations affect stem cell function and the propensity for malignancy during aging?


Drs. Richard Young (at left) and Eric Olson of Syros Pharmaceuticals

These and other questions will be factored into the vetting process for the next phase of the SWCRF’s Aging, Hematopoeisis and Cancer research initiative, which will target three or four two-year grants that will require collaboration among applicants working at two or more NCI-designated laboratories.  

The slate of speakers and presentations included:

James DeGregori, PhD, University of Colorado - Connecting Cancer To Aging:  An Evolutionary Approach Using In Silico And In Vivo Modeling

Christin Burd, PhD, Ohio State University - Relationship Between T-cell p16INK4a Levels, Immunosenescence and Geriatric Assessments in Patients with Multiple Myeloma

Benjamin Ebert, MD, PhD, Brigham and Womens Hospital - Clonal Hematopoiesis of the Elderly


Ross Levine, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering - Somatic Mutations and Age-Associated Clonal Hematopoiesis: Clinical and Mechanistic Implications


Maria E. Figueroa, MD, University of Michigan - DNA Methylation Patterns in Aging and MDS 

Margaret A. Goodell, PhD, Baylor University - DNMT3A and Stem Cell Self-renewal 

Emmanuelle Passegué, PhD, University of California, San Francisco - DNA Damage and Genomic Instability in Aging HSCs 

Hans-Willem Snoeck, MD, PhD, Columbia University - Aging and Maintenance of HSCs 

Amy Wagers, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute - Intrinsic and Extrinsic Signals Regulating Aging Hematopoietic Stem Cells 

Jason Butler, PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College - Rejuvenation of Aged Vascular Niches to Enhance Hematopoietic Function

Saghi Ghafari, MD, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine - FOX03 and Its Network in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Aging


Hartmut Geiger, PhD, University of Ulm - Aging and Leukemia: Lessons From Hematopoietic Stem Cell Aging


Richard Young, PhD, Whitehead Institute, MIT - Genome Wide Approaches

Andre Nussenzweig, PhD, National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Targeting ATR and ATM Kinase Activities in MLL-rearranged AML