Ronald DePinho

Ronald A. DePinho is Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology, Division of Basic Science Research, at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and its former President. DePinho assumed the presidency at MD Anderson on Sept. 1, 2011. Prior to joining MD Anderson, he spent 14 years at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School in Boston. There, he was founding director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber and was a professor in the Department of Medicine (genetics) at Harvard and an American Cancer Society Research Professor. Previously, he held numerous faculty positions during 10 years at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where he was the Feinberg Senior Scholar in Cancer Research. There, he established the first National Cancer Institute-supported shared transgenic and gene targeting facility, which enabled his laboratory and many other researchers to model and study the genetic basis of cancer and other complex diseases. DePinho is married to noted cancer geneticist, Lynda Chin and has three children, Alexis, Carolyn, and Joseph DePinho.

DePinho works on the genetics of aging and cancer. His research focuses on the telomeres and DNA repair pathways, but his interests span other areas. He is internationally recognized for basic and translational research in cancer, aging and age-associated degenerative disorders. He was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2012. At Dana-Farber and Harvard, DePinho guided major basic-translational research programs focused on brain, colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. Under his leadership, the Belfer Institute followed industry-like principles to systematically translate basic research findings into clinical endpoints. His scientific program has made fundamental discoveries underlying cancer in the aged and factors governing acquired and inherited degenerative disorders. He established the concept of tumor maintenance, discovered a core pathway of aging and demonstrated that aging is a reversible process. He has constructed and used refined mouse models of cancer to identify many new cancer targets and diagnostics. Highlights from his work in mouse models of cancer includes the generation of CDKN2A knockout mice, providing proof of the tumor suppressor function of this gene, now known to be critical in diverse cancers, most prominently GBM and mesothelioma. He is notable for his work on telomerase knockout mice, and the associated mechanistic studies related to aging and carcinogenesis. Recent work of DePinho has focused on precision oncology, with an emphasis on utilizing genomic deletions as points of selective vulnerabilities.