HMH Maestro

Featured Physicians

Benjamin Tycko, M.D., Ph.D. and Michael Stifelman, M.D.

Updated: May 4, 2022

Benjamin Tycko, M.D., Ph.D., a scientist and member of the Hackensack Meridian Center for Discovery and Innovation (CDI), has teamed up with Michael Stifelman, M.D., chair of the Department of Urology at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center and inaugural chair and professor of Urology at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, to fight kidney cancer.

Together, they share a one-year Department of Defense grant totaling $133,000 to support their science and research – capitalizing on a bank of frozen kidney cancers that Dr. Stifelman and his team have built over the years to further investigate clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC).

The Department of Defense grant will bring together both the genetic methods developed by Dr. Tycko’s lab and from the extensive collection of frozen kidney cancer specimens developed by Dr. Stifelman, who leads the Department of Urology at Hackensack University Medical Center.

About the Research

The formation of ccRCCs is driven, at least in part, by functional non-coding mutations. Functional non-coding mutations are so far understudied. According to Dr. Tycko, pinpointing specific examples of such mutations in kidney cancers, using the innovative method that his lab has developed, has a good chance of revealing novel treatment targets.

There is already one well-documented example of a functional non-coding cancer-driven mutation in kidney cancer, connected to a gene called TERT, which codes for an enzyme that repairs chromosomal ends. Tumor cells benefit from over-expression of this gene, which allows them to divide indefinitely when not successfully treated. Targeting the TERT enzyme as a cancer treatment has been challenging, and uncovering additional types of functional non-coding mutations in human kidney cancers is a critical objective.