Childhood Brain Tumor Expert Named Chief of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital
Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital has appointed Oren J. Becher, MD, as the Chief of the Jack Martin Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, the Steven Ravitch Chair in Pediatric Hematology, and Professor of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A physician-scientist, Dr. Becher is an expert in brain tumors in children, particularly diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an incurable pediatric brain cancer. For more than a decade, his research has focused on identifying therapeutic targets to treat DIPG.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Becher to Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital, where his expertise in pediatric brain cancers, most notably his contribution to our understanding of genetic alterations in DIPG, will be highly valued among our faculty and the families in our care,” says Lisa Satlin, MD, Chair of the Jack and Lucy Clark Department of Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“It is my honor to join the Mount Sinai family and the outstanding collaborative environment there. Icahn Mount Sinai’s strengths in neuroscience, genomics, and cancer research will provide a fertile ground for the development of innovative clinical trials for children with cancer and hematological diseases,” says Dr. Becher.
He joins Icahn Mount Sinai from the Northwestern University School of Medicine, where, in addition to appointments in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, he also maintained clinical responsibilities at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
Dr. Becher has contributed to some of the seminal discoveries in the DIPG field since he began studying this puzzling cancer in 2008. In addition to studying the function of the genetic alterations present in DIPG, Dr. Becher’s laboratory co-discovered the presence of somatic activating mutations in a gene not previously implicated in cancer, called ACVR1 or ALK2, in 25 percent of children with DIPG, and subsequently developed genetically engineered mouse models that recapitulate the genetic alterations of the human disease. This work suggests that ACVR1 may be a new avenue for the treatment of DIPG, but more research is needed. Additionally, Dr. Becher’s laboratory has expanded efforts to develop models for other pediatric brain cancer subtypes, and is using these models to study the tumor microenvironment and to evaluate novel therapeutics that help prioritize clinical trials for children with brain cancer.
“For more than ten years, my research has focused on DIPG exclusively. I was drawn to this area because we have no cure and there are very few dedicated DIPG researchers to do the rigorous science that is needed to understand these tumors. While my lab at Mount Sinai will continue to focus on DIPG, I am excited by the prospect of building up the division. We are in a fast-moving period in pediatric hematology-oncology, where genomics is playing an increasing role for both diagnostics and therapeutics. This will be my focus at Icahn Mount Sinai,” says Dr. Becher.
About the Mount Sinai Health System
Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.
Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties.
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