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Lajos Pusztai, MD, D.Phil

Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology); Co-Leader, Genetics, Genomics and Epigenetics, Yale Cancer Center

Dr Pusztai is Professor of Medicine at Yale University and Director of Breast Cancer Translational Research and Co-Director of the Cancer Center Genomics, Genetics, and Epigenetics Program. Dr. Pusztai is also Chair of the Breast Cancer Research Committee of the South West Oncology Group (SWOG). He received his medical degree from the Semmelweis University of Medicine in Budapest, and his D.Phil. degree from the University of Oxford in England. His research group has made important contributions to establish that estrogen receptor-positive and-negative breast cancers have fundamentally different molecular, clinical and epidemiological characteristics. He has been a pioneer in evaluating gene expression profiling as a diagnostic technology to predict chemotherapy and endocrine therapy sensitivity and have shown that different biological processes are involved in determining the prognosis and treatment response in different breast cancer subtypes. His group has also developed new bioinformatics tools to integrate information from across different data platforms in order to define the molecular pathways that are disturbed in individual cancers and could provide the bases for individualized treatment strategies. He made important contributions to clarify the clinical value of preoperative (neoadjuvant) chemotherapy in different breast cancer subtypes. Dr Pusztai is also principal investigator of several clinical trials investigating new drugs, including immunotherapies for breast cancer. He has published over 250 scientific manuscripts in high impact medical journals including the NEJM, JAMA, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Nature Biotechnology, PNAS, Lancet Oncology and JNCI. He is among the top 1% most highly cited clinical investigators in medicine over the past 10 years according to a 2015 Thomson Reuters report. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of National Cancer Institute (JNCI), member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, former member of the NCI North American Breast Cancer Steering Committee and Co-Chair of the Trans-ALTTO Committee and Chair of the Data Safety Monitoring Committee of the OPTIMA trial in the United Kingdom.

Overview of Current Project

Miso Therapeutics: Targeting cancer cells' Metabolic isoenzyme addiction: Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) lacks targeted therapies and therefore rely on chemotherapy with its associated side effects. TNBC is an aggressive disease with high metabolic rewiring. We have identified PCK2 as a TNBC-specific metabolic target by comparing RNA sequencing data from patient-matched clinical samples. PCK2 is a novel target and lacks an inhibitor, a protein model, and an enzyme assay. To this end, we have created a homology model, a high throughput enzyme assay, and identified an active hit. Using the Blavatnik fund, we propose to perform lead optimization, PK/PD, and in vivo validation.

Favorite Off-Time Activity

A like to read books. Reading about topics unrelated to medicine and cancer research that unclutter my mind and enriches me with ideas that I sometimes can bring back to my day job, medical oncology and breast cancer research. Right now I am reading books about the life of Albrehct Durer, the history of Islam, and how the Este Lauder cosmetics company was funded. I also like hiking, running, bicycling, see kayaking, skiing, sailing with my sons. The interesting thing about being alone in nature is that I never feel lonely, unlike being alone in a restaurant or in a crowded space.

Best Advice for new entrepreneurs

An idea is a good start, but your team is everything and failure is the foundation of future success.