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The one hundred honoree: Arul  M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD

Innovation Story

The one hundred honoree: Arul M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD

Mass General Giving

Arul Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, is a world-renowned researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is the founding director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology, one of the most advanced cancer genomics research centers in the nation.

In 2005, Dr. Chinnaiyan made a stunning discovery about the origins of prostate cancer. Using powerful genetic and computational tools, his laboratory realized that approximately 50 percent of prostate cancers have a specific gene fusion event (TMPRSS2-ETS) caused by the inappropriate translocation or fusion of separate chromosomes. This is now regarded as the single most common genetic abnormality in prostate cancer and the subject of intense investigation.

Dr. Chinnaiyan and his colleagues involved in this discovery received the 2007 Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research. His laboratory is now looking for ways to target the TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusion in drug development and searching for similar gene fusions in other forms of cancer.

Fostering collaboration across sites, Dr. Chinnaiyan and his colleagues developed the widely used bioinformatics cancer profiling website Oncomine, which is freely available to the academic medical research community. Dr. Chinnaiyan also leads the multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team project entitled “Precision Therapy for Advanced Prostate Cancer.”