What Translational Gap? Michael Pishvaian on Advances in Tumor Profiling


Michael Pishvaian, Assistant Professor, Georgetown University; CMO, Perthera 

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Listen (4:08) Untapped potential

Listen (6:24) What is the biggest challenge in the biomarker development process?

Listen (7:54) Taking personalized medicine to hospitals everywhere

Listen (5:30) Must do better in assessing value of personalized medicine

When we talk about personalized medicine, we often hear that doctors are out of touch with the latest research, particularly those not at major medical research universities. Not so, says Michael Pishvaian, researcher and doctor at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital.

Our first guest in a new series, "Democratizing Personalized Medicine: Advances in Tumor Profiling," Michael says that in the last two years the “retailization" of diagnostic tools has made personalized medicine for cancer available to all doctors.

Spending sixty percent of his time in research and forty percent seeing patients, Michael is involved in the entire flow of biomarker development, from discovery to patient care. His specialty is in GI cancers, where there is “an untapped potential for using biomarkers.” When Michael finds biomarkers that are useful to target a therapy, he’s immediately able to enroll his patients in a clinical trial.

But Michael works at a major research hospital. What about those doctors working in community hospitals?

Michael argues that all the new research on tumor biomarkers is being made available at the community hospital level.

“In just the last two to three years there has been a real explosion of retail diagnostic/molecular testing companies that have the capacity to give as much, if not more, genetic and molecular information about a patient’s tumor than can be found at any major institution,” he says.

Michael is the CMO for one such private company, Perthera, which is offering the latest in tumor profiling to doctors everywhere through their "virtual tumor board."

“I don’t think doctors are out of touch. . . . It’s not so much that they don’t have access or the knowledge base for personalized medicine. It really just has to do with time and effort and first hand experience to know how to put it all together,” he says.