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Friday, February 16, 2007

Beth Israel Deaconess lures hot-shot cancer geneticist

By Scott Allen, Globe Staff

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has successfully lured one of the most promising young cancer geneticists away from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, making Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi the director of its newly created cancer genetics program.

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Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi

The Italian-born Pandolfi, 43, already has won a slew of awards for his research into the molecular and genetic causes of leukemia, lymphoma and other cancers. His work has led to new treatments for a form of blood cancer, acute promyelocytic leukemia.

As both a professor at Cornell University's Weill Medical College and a researcher at the world's largest cancer center, Pandolfi was positioned for a long run in New York. But Beth Israel Deaconess, eager to play a bigger role in the most dynamic area of cancer research, attracted Pandolfi to Boston with the promise of a new program where he will attempt to develop individualized treatments for cancer patients. Pandolfi also will become a professor at Harvard Medical School, for which Beth Israel Deaconess is a major teaching hospital.

In an interview, Pandolfi said he was attracted by the idea of working in Boston's storied Longwood Medical Area, adding that he dreamed of becoming a Harvard professor when he was a boy growing up in Rome. "I have a very good job. Sloan-Kettering is a top institution, but I'm sure we can do as well or better here," he said.

Senior Beth Israel Deaconess officials were full of praise for their new rising star, and one official couldn't resist a little Boston-bests-New York ribbing. "Now they can keep Johnny Damon," he joked.

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