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Savio Woo

  • PROFESSOR Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
  • PROFESSOR Genetics and Genomic Sciences
  • PROFESSOR Oncological Sciences
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  • B.S, Loyola College
    Honors Chemistry

  • Ph.D., University of Washington

  • University of British Columbia


    Professor and Founding Chairman of the Department of Gene and Cell Medicine

    1973-1975  Research Associate, Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of
                          Medicine, Houston, TX

    1975-1978  Assistant Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of
                          Medicine, Houston, TX.

    1976-1978  Associate Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Bethesda, MD.

    1979-1983  Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of
                          Medicine, Houston, TX.

    1979-1996  Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Bethesda, MD.

    1984-1996  Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine,  
                          Houston, TX.

    1991-1996  Founding Director, Center for Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine, 
                          Houston, TX.

    1996-           Professor and Founding Chairman, Department of Gene and Cell
                          Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.


    Other Professional Experience

    1.   Founding Chairman, Gordon Conference on Molecular Genetics, 1985.

    2.   Member, NIH Study Section on Molecular Biology, 1983-1985.

    3.   Honorary Member, Japanese Society of Inherited Metabolic Disease, 1986.

    4.   Board of Scientific Councilors, National Institute of Child Health and Human  
         Development, 1988-1994.

    5.   President, Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America, 1990.

    6.   Board of Directors, American Society for Human Genetics, 1994-1997.

    7.   Chairman, Ad Hoc NIH Study Section on Gene Therapy Vector Development, 

    8.   Chairman, Ad Hoc NIH Study Section on Gene Therapy Core Center, 1998.

    9.   Secretary, Harvey Society, 1998-2002.

    10. President, American Society of Gene Therapy, 1999-2000.

    11. Chairman, NHLBI Working Group on Critical Resources for Gene Therapy, 2005.

    12. Chairman, Review Panel on NHLBI’s Gene Therapy Resource Program, 2006.

    13. Board of Directors, International Society for Cancer Gene Therapy, 2006-2009.

    14. Member, Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee, CBER, FDA,

    Woo Laboratory


  • 2008 -
    Advancement of Cancer Research Award
    Gilda's Club NYC

  • 2000 -
    Researcher of the Year Award
    National Hemophilia Foundation

  • 1989 -
    Research and Development Award

  • 1988 - 1998
    MERIT Award
    National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

  • 1983 -
    Noel Rain Memorial Award
    The Society for the Study of Inborn Errors of Metabolism


Oncolytic VSV Virotherapy for Liver Cancer

Most recently, it was discovered that many RNA viruses have the natural tendency to efficiently replicate specifically in tumor cells due to their attenuated responses to type I interferons. Of these, the Vesicular stomatitis Virus (VSV) is a particularly attractive oncolytic agent as its replication cycle in tumor cells is only 8-10 hours, which will permit extensive viral replication in tumors prior to the onset of anti-viral immune responses in the host. One limitation to thefield of oncolytic virotherapy has been the rapid cellular innate response to virus infection, and the virus is rapidly cleared from the tumor site after only 1-2 days.  To overcome this limitation, a recombinant VSV vector that has been genetically engineered to express a heterologous viral chemokine binding protein gene that attenuate innate cellular immune responses in the lesions was constructed.  The novel recombinant virus vector has been proven effective in causing massive tumor destruction in laboratory animals bearing multi-focal Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) and metastatic Colorectal Carcinoma (CRC) in their livers, which led to substantial survival prolongation and tumor rejection in half of the animals.  Importantly, the recombinant virus does not cause systemic immune suppression in the animals and immune attenuation is restricted in the infected tumors.  Biodistribution and pharmacology and toxicology studies have been completed in animals to support an Investigative New Drug application to the FDA, and a clinical translational trial for patients with advanced liver cancer will be initiated in 2011.   Thus, gene therapy is rapidly developing into a novel biomedical discipline that can be productively applied in the treatment of both genetic and acquired disorders in humans, and it represents a fundamental form of molecular medicine that will have a major impact on health and healthcare for decades to come. 



Immune-modulatory Gene Therapy for Metastatic Diseae

Gene Therapy is an emerging biomedical discipline that will find applications in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases. A number of recombinant gene transfer vector systems have been developed in the past few years to achieve persistent gene transfer and expression in various animal models of disease. Because of its high efficiency in gene transfer and expression, the replication-defective recombinant adenovirus is an ideal vector to deliver suicide genes that cause tumor destruction, and the treatment strategy was shown to be effective against a variety of localized cancers including cancers in the brain, head and neck, colon, pancreas, ovary, bladder and prostate in laboratory animals. In addition, adenovirus-mediated immunomodulatory gene delivery into the tumors induced robust anti-tumoral immune responses that were effective in rejecting a variety of solid tumors in laboratory animals, and several clinical translational trials against various cancer targets are currently being conducted at Mount Sinai.  Furthermore, it was discovered that active genetic immunization using gene-expressing vectors and recombinant proteins that simultaneously induce an innate immune response and tumor-specific cytolytic T lymphocytes are synergistic in tumor rejection. Greater than 80% of the treated animals with various cancer targets became long-term survivors that are tumor-free, and the anti-tumor effect is also systemic as it rejected pre-established multi-focal metastases in the lung.  The equivalent gene vector and recombinant protein that target human tumors have already been constructed and this novel treatment paradigm will be tested in patients with various metastatic diseases at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the coming years.



Xu D, Sauter B, Huang T, Meseck M, Woo SC, Chen S. Systemic Administration of Ig-4-1BB Ligand in Combination with IL-12 Gene Transfer Eradicates Hepatic Colon Carcinoma. Gene Therapy 2005; 12: 1526-1533.

Chen L, Huang TG, Meseck M, Mandeli J, Fallon J, Woo SC. Rejection of meatstatic 4T1 breast cancer by attenuation of Treg cells in combination with immune stimulation. Mol. Ther 2007; 15: 2194-2202.

Sung C, Choi B, Wanna G, Genden E, Woo SC, Shin E. Combined VSV oncolytic virus and chemotherapy for squamous cell Carcinoma. Laryngoscope 2008; 118: 237-242.

Altomonte J, Wu L, Meseck M, Ebert O, Garcia-Sastre A, Fallon J, Woo SL. Exponential Enhancement of Oncolytic VSV Potency by Vector Mediated Suppression of Inflammatory Responses In Vivo . Mol. Ther 2008; 16: 146-153.

Wu L, Huang TG, Meseck M, Altomonte J, Ebert O, Shinzaki K, Garcia-Sastre A, Fallon J, Mandeli J, Woo SC. rVSV(Mdelta51)-M3 is an Effective and Safe Oncolytic Virus for Cancer Therapy. Human Gene Therapy 2008; 19: 635-647.

Almonte J, Wu L, Meseck M, Chen L, Ebert O, Garcia-Sastre A, Fallon J, Mandeli J, Woo S. Enhanced Oncolytic Potency of VSV via Vector-mediated Inhibition of NK and NKT Cells . Cancer Gene Therapy 2009; 16: 266-268.

Industry Relationships

Physicians and scientists on the faculty of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai often interact with pharmaceutical, device and biotechnology companies to improve patient care, develop new therapies and achieve scientific breakthroughs. In order to promote an ethical and transparent environment for conducting research, providing clinical care and teaching, Mount Sinai requires that salaried faculty inform the School of their relationships with such companies.

Dr. Woo did not report having any of the following types of financial relationships with industry during 2013 and/or 2014: consulting, scientific advisory board, industry-sponsored lectures, service on Board of Directors, participation on industry-sponsored committees, equity ownership valued at greater than 5% of a publicly traded company or any value in a privately held company. Please note that this information may differ from information posted on corporate sites due to timing or classification differences.

Mount Sinai's faculty policies relating to faculty collaboration with industry are posted on our website at Patients may wish to ask their physician about the activities they perform for companies.

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