Two New Faculty, Emphasizing Translational Research, Join Columbia’s Leukemia Team

August 13, 2020

Columbia University’s Division of Hematology and Oncology welcomes new members, Andrew Lipsky, MD, and Aaron Viny, MD, MS,  both assistant professors of medicine, to the leukemia group. Dr. Lipsky joined Columbia in July from Weill Cornell/NewYork-Presbyterian and Dr. Viny will begin his appointment Sept. 1 from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

The leukemia service at Columbia/NewYork-Presbyterian comprises leading pioneers in the treatment and research of hematologic malignancies. Research expertise at Columbia and at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center span all leukemia types and treatment encompasses a multidisciplinary approach with a team focused on tailored, personalized patient care.

Dr. Lipsky, who completed his fellowship in hematology and oncology at Weill Cornell and residency in internal medicine at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, focuses on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). CLL is a leukemia cancer type that forms in white blood cells in the bone and a disease that accounts for one-third of all leukemias.

Dr. Andrew Lipsky

Dr. Andrew Lipsky

Dr. Lipsky’s research is inspired not only by recent therapeutic breakthroughs, but also by tremendous advances in the field of cancer genomics. “By sequencing a cancer’s genome and understanding its unique characteristics and vulnerabilities,” he says, “we can better inform our options for anti-tumor therapy.”

During his time at Weill Cornell, Dr. Lipsky also completed a sub-fellowship in molecular and translation oncology focusing on computational biology and bioinformatics, utilizing some of the latest genomic techniques to study how CLL cells change and adapt during treatment. At Columbia, his goal is to care for CLL patients and utilize these techniques to study the disease in an environment with access to the newest, most innovative therapies and clinical trials.

Research is critical but a big focus for Dr. Lipsky is its translation to patient care. “Medicine represents the opportunity to take science from the classroom and laboratory and apply it on a personal level to touch individual lives.”

For Dr. Viny, the motivation to pursue a career as an oncologist stemmed from his own personal experience with cancer. At age 20, Dr. Viny was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, and has been cancer-free for 17 years. “The passion and dedication that I bring to the bench, influenced by the time I spent as a patient,” he says, “give me a unique perspective and resolve to work to improve the lives of patients affected by cancer.”

Dr. Aaron Viny

Dr. Aaron Viny

Dr. Viny graduated in the inaugural class of the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, a program designed to train physician scientists. He joined the faculty at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in 2015 where he has been an assistant member of the leukemia service. He has published high impact papers on cohesin complex mutations in leukemia and his research studies epigenetic regulation with a focus on chromatin architecture and transcriptional signaling.

At Columbia, he plans to establish a translational research program to study the mechanistic and functional role of 3-dimensional genomic architecture and dynamic chromatin structure both normal and malignant hematopoiesis. Using mechanistic studies in mouse models and primary patient samples, Dr. Viny, a member of the Columbia Stem Cell Initiative, aims to gain deeper understanding of normal and malignant stem cell function and identify a new class of targets for therapeutic intervention.