Oct. 1, 2018:

Investigator Spotlight

Borys Hrinczenko, MD, PhD, Breslin Cancer Center at Michigan State University

Educational background

  • MD: SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, Brooklyn, NY
  • PhD: University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
  • Internship and Residency: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
  • Fellowship: National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Research interests

My main interest is in new therapies for lung cancer, including the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors, the same treatments for which James P. Allison and Tasuku Honjo were awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine. At the Breslin Cancer Center, we have Phase I clinical trials using checkpoint inhibitors to harness the body’s immune system against lung cancer. I’m collaborating on other projects with several MSU researchers, including:

  • Chemistry Professor Greg Swain, who is developing a device to measure nitric oxide and peroxynitrite in exhaled breath to determine if these are biomarkers for lung cancer.
  • Physiology Professor Eran Andrechek, who discovered in a preclinical model that some lung cancer patients with an overlooked mutation might respond well to treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
  • Pharmacology and Toxicology Associate Professor Karen Liby, who is studying rexinoid drugs for potentially treating lung cancer patients who have the KRAS mutation.
  • Bryan R. Smith, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, who is interested in using nanotechnology to reverse immunosuppression in lung cancer.

These are just a few examples of how we at MSU are collaborating across many disciplines to fight this devastating disease.

Little-known facts about Dr. Hrinczenko

  • I like mystery novels, Indian cuisine and old movies.
  • I’m a native New Yorker.
  • I am an avid chess player, and my high school team won the National High School Chess Championship.


Thought Leader Perspectives

Anas Al-Janadi, MD, associate professor, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the FDA’s approval of the anti-cancer drug cisplatin, a discovery by a Michigan State University researcher that has saved millions of lives. We marked the occasion in August with a two-day celebration on the Michigan State University campus, which drew 200 attendees. In the mid-1960s, MSU biophysicist Barnett Rosenberg and colleague Loretta Van Camp and then-graduate student Thomas Krigas discovered the cancer-fighting properties of platinum, which led to the development of cisplatin for treating testicular, bladder, ovarian, and other types of cancer.

The keynote speaker at the anniversary celebration was Lawrence Einhorn, MD, who in 1974, as a young Indiana University oncologist, tested cisplatin with two other drugs as a treatment for testicular cancer. He was accompanied by John Cleland, the first patient cured by cisplatin, often called the “gold standard of cancer drugs.” Rosenberg, who retired from MSU in 1997 and died in 2009, would have been proud.

For me, the anniversary was a reminder of how important collaboration is in medical research. The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium did not exist when Rosenberg made his discovery. Today, we routinely rely on our colleagues throughout the Big Ten to share their expertise and join us in finding new treatments for many forms of cancer. For example, at MSU’s Breslin Cancer Center, we participated in the consortium’s first clinical trial, which combined two drugs, bevacizumab and pembrolizumab, to treat kidney cancer. Data from that trial, initiated and led by Arkadiusz Dudek, MD, PhD, of the University of Illinois College of Medicine, is being analyzed and readied for publication. It is a true product of collaboration.

With more such joint studies on the horizon, MSU is investing heavily in cancer research. Anna Moore, PhD, recently joined MSU as assistant dean in the College of Human Medicine and director of the Precision Health Program. Her mission is to advance the tools and technologies for early detection and molecular targeting in a wide range of diseases, including cancer. Xuefei Huang, PhD, leads a multidisciplinary team at MSU researching immunotherapy and the development of anti-cancer vaccines. Richard Neubig, MD, PhD, chair of MSU’s Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, is studying a compound to prevent melanoma from metastasizing and combinations of other drugs to keep the deadly skin cancer from returning after going into remission.

We expect that much of this research will lead to more teamwork with our partners in the Big Ten CRC. Forty years after the FDA’s landmark approval of cisplatin, I am reminded that this is what collaboration brings: Working together, we can save lives.


About the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium: The Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium was created in 2013 to transform the conduct of cancer research through collaborative, hypothesis-driven, highly translational oncology trials that leverage the scientific and clinical expertise of Big Ten universities. The goal of the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium is to create a unique team-research culture to drive science rapidly from ideas to new approaches to cancer treatment. Within this innovative environment, today’s research leaders collaborate with and mentor the research leaders of tomorrow with the unified goal of improving the lives of all patients with cancer.

About the Big Ten Conference: The Big Ten Conference is an association of world-class universities whose member institutions share a common mission of research, graduate, professional and undergraduate teaching and public service. Founded in 1896, the Big Ten has sustained a comprehensive set of shared practices and policies that enforce the priority of academics in the lives of students competing in intercollegiate athletics and emphasize the values of integrity, fairness and competitiveness. The broad-based programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will provide over $200 million in direct financial support to almost 9,500 students for more than 11,000 participation opportunities on 350 teams in 42 different sports. The Big Ten sponsors 28 official conference sports, 14 for men and 14 for women, including the addition of men’s ice hockey and men’s and women’s lacrosse since 2013. For more information, visit www.bigten.org.