Arul M. Chinnaiyan

University of Michigan


Primary Section: 41, Medical Genetics, Hematology, and Oncology
Membership Type: Member (elected 2020)

Biosketch

Dr. Chinnaiyan is a molecular pathologist and physician scientist at the leading edge of translational cancer research and precision oncology. He is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, American Cancer Society Research Professor, and Director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology.  He is best known for the discovery of TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusions in a majority of prostate cancers, the first causative gene fusion in a common solid tumor.  Dr. Chinnaiyan completed his undergraduate, M.D.-Ph.D. degrees, and clinical pathology residency at the University of Michigan. He is the S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology and a Professor of Urology at the University of Michigan Medical School. He has received several honors including the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the NCI Outstanding Investigator Award, and was inducted into the AACR Academy Class of 2020. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, Association of American Physicians, American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, National Academy of Inventors, National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Dr. Chinnaiyan has focused on functional genomic and bioinformatic approaches to study cancer for the purposes of understanding tumor biology as well as to discover genetic drivers of cancer.  His lab discovered that a majority of prostate cancers harbor gene fusions of TMPRSS2 fused to ETS transcription factors. This discovery was made using a bioinformatics approach to detect outlier genes in an aggregated tumor gene expression database called ONCOMINE, developed by his group.  TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusions are exquisitely specific markers of prostate cancer as well as the initiating driver alteration for this disease. Since their discovery in prostate cancer, a number of other common solid tumors have been found to have subsets that harbor recurrent gene fusions including lung cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer, among others. In 2011, his group established the first integrative, comprehensive clinical sequencing approach for advanced cancer patients called MI-ONCOSEQ, which has served as a paradigm for cancer precision medicine. Through these efforts, he has characterized a number of important cancer targets/biomarkers including EZH2, AMACR, FGFR/RAF kinase fusions, ESR1, CDK12, FOXA1, and long non-coding RNAs.

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