Jean-Pierre Issa is a professor of medicine and director at Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at Temple University. Issa’s laboratory has made important contributions to the understanding of the importance of epigenetics in the pathophysiology and treatment of cancer. His lab’s discoveries include the effects of aging and inflammation on promoter DNA methylation, the CpG Island Methylator Phenotype in multiple cancers, and the interrelations between aberrant DNA methylation and histone modifications in cancer. Starting in 2000, his group initiated laboratory research inspired clinical trials that showed that low doses of hypomethylating drugs specifically target DNA methylation and are optimal in the treatment of leukemias. This work contributed to the FDA approval of decitabine, and led to a large number of epigenetic therapy clinical trials in different malignancies.
Issa’s research focuses on mechanisms of epigenetic alterations in aging and cancer, translation of epigenomic studies for Precision Medicine, development of drugs for reprogramming the epigenome, and clinical trials of epigenetic therapy in cancer. His research has been recognized by numerous awards including a Sidney Kimmell Foundation Scholar Award, election to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, an American Cancer Society clinical research professorship, the Faculty Achievement Award in Basic Research from MD Anderson and the Rosenthal Award.