Boyd named chief scientific officer at Cancer Institute

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Jeff Boyd, PhD, a renowned expert in cancer genetics research and clinical molecular diagnostics, has been named vice president, chief scientific officer and director of the Cancer Institute’s Center for Genomic Medicine. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

Jeff Boyd will be serving as vice president and chief scientific officer and director of the  Center for Genomic Medicine at Northwell Health System’s Cancer Institute in Lake Success. He will also hold an appointment as professor and member of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center.

Boyd, who began in his position on Feb. 10, was working at the Miami Cancer Institute when he received the offer from Northwell.

“It sounded like a great opportunity,” Boyd said. “Part of it involved being director of the Center for Genomic Medicine, being chief of science for the Cancer Institute, working at the Cold Spring Harbor lab, strengthening that relationship, providing them access to oncologists here, as well as tissue specimens and such that they need in a cancer research lab.”

Part of the doctor’s job will involve the creation of a clinical laboratory and molecular diagnostic lab certified by the Department of Health, where researchers can obtain tumor specimens from cancer patients, isolate DNA and use a state-of-the-art technology known as “next-generation DNA sequencing” to define genetic architecture of a specific tumor in an individual.

“Every breast cancer is different, liver cancer is different, colon cancer is different by the person,” Boyd said.

The institute is also looking into the mutations that cause normal cells to turn cancerous, matching certain mutations to specific drugs in a way that Boyd likens to a lock and key.

“We’re at a point now in our understanding of cancer genetics in drugs being developed that we can match specific drugs – precision cancer medicine – match a drug to a mutation in that patient’s tumor, and it stops what it’s doing to make a normal cell a cancer cell,” Boyd said. “That’s what’s looking to replace chemotherapy. Most of the therapy is nontoxic, it would describe mutations in tumor and any drugs available for that mutation, and that’s the future of cancer treatment.”

Another operational unit has to do with banking cancer specimens and fluids like blood and urine from cancer patients, where a state-of-the-art specimen vial depository that will take samples ranging from tumor tissue, blood, and urine, all connected to electronic med record.

“The days of taking small bits of tumor or vials of blood and putting them in freezer are gone,” Dr. Boyd said.

These specimens will be available to any researchers in the Northwell system, as well as those in the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory.

“Our colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor are important to the success of our work,” Dr. Boyd said.

Dr. Richard Barakat, physician-in-chief and director of the Northwell Health Cancer Institute and senior vice president of cancer services at Northwell Health, had worked with Dr. Boyd at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

“Genomics has become an important piece to helping us understand the genetic roots of the various forms of cancer, which is why it has become an important area of investment for Northwell Health,” Barakat said. “We are extremely fortunate to have such an esteemed cancer researcher and internationally-known genomics expert such as Boyd to join the Cancer Institute’s leadership team.”

Boyd has over 30 years of cancer research experience, most recently serving on the executive leadership team of the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida as associate deputy director of translational research and genomic medicine.

He also served as a professor and chair of the department of human and molecular genetics, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and associate dean for basic research and graduate programs at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University.

Prior to joining the Miami Cancer Institute in 2015, Dr. Boyd held senior leadership positions at prominent cancer centers across the country, serving as the first executive officer of the Cancer Genome Institute at the Fox Chase Center in Philadelphia, Penn.

He also held numerous senior positions at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and served as a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institutes of Health.

Boyd says he and his wife are in the process of moving and hope to live in Lloyd Harbor, close to the Cold Spring Harbor laboratories.

“I like to build things,” Dr. Boyd said. “I’ve been in this cancer research and clinical care space for decades, and there is unparalleled opportunity here.”

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