Texas Oncology has more than 150 sites of service throughout Texas and southeastern
Career OpportunitiesCancer Physician-Scientist Joins Baylor Institute for Immunology Research and Texas Oncology in a Joint Appointment
(DALLAS, June 22, 2006) – Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR) and Texas Oncology today announced the recruitment of Wenru Song, M.D., Ph.D., for the organizations’ cancer research programs. Dr. Song is a board-certified physician in internal medicine and medical oncology and a research scientist with a background in cancer immunotherapy.
Dr. Song will work to bridge the basic science being conducted at BIIR with the clinical group at Texas Oncology/Baylor Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center to expand investigator-initiated translational/clinical research. At BIIR, he will develop dendritic cell-based cancer vaccines for lymphoma and other solid tumors in his new laboratory.
“Dr. Song’s recruitment is the beginning of what we expect to be a large physician-scientist program,” says Jacques Banchereau, Ph.D., director of BIIR. “In the next few years we hope to expand it to include physician-scientists in a variety of medically-relevant specialties that involve immunology.”
Michael A. Ramsay, M.D., president of Baylor Research Institute, the parent organization of BIIR, adds, “The physician-scientist program is a major development in Baylor Research Institute’s mission to focus on clinically relevant research that is targeted to make a difference in the health of the community today. This is an exciting time to be in medicine as we see the major advances and discoveries in this institute that will translate directly to advanced personalized medical care. The collaboration between clinically-relevant science, Texas Oncology and Baylor Health Care System has produced a powerful team.”
Dr. Song will also set up a lymphoma clinic in the Bone Marrow Transplant Division of Texas Oncology and see patients.
The president and chief executive officer of Texas Oncology, Steven R. Paulson, M.D., says, “Texas Oncology is excited about the energy and innovative research that Dr. Song will bring to our center. This will bring new therapeutic options to our patients and working in conjunction with our other physicians, hopefully advance the treatment of lymphoma and other malignancies in our community.”
Since arriving at Baylor, Dr. Song has become the co-investigator of two clinical trials to test new types of cancer vaccines.
“These cancer vaccines use dendritic cells, which are the guardian cells of our immune systems. They sense attacks, such as from bacteria and viruses, and ‘sound the alarm’ that alerts the immune system to mount a defense against these invaders. Cancers often manage to avoid activating the dendritic cells but our clinical trials are testing new methods of activating the dendritic cells in cancer patients,” explains Dr. Song.
At BIIR, using dendritic cells in cancer vaccines is a major focus of ongoing research. Dr. Banchereau, Karolina Palucka, M.D., Ph.D., the Michael A.E. Ramsay Chair for Cancer Immunology Research, and Joseph Fay, M.D., a Texas Oncology physician and director of the division of immunologic therapy for cancer, have conducted a number of Phase I and II clinical trials using dendritic cell-based cancer vaccines against melanoma. Their research led to the establishment of ODC Therapy, Inc., in 2004. Baylor Health Care System formed ODC Therapy to develop and produce these new types of cancer vaccines.
“These vaccines are specific to each patient because they are the patient’s own dendritic cells, which have been activated against his or her specific cancer type. There are no significant side effects and we have seen some remarkable clinical successes which have encouraged us to develop our clinical trial program,” says Dr. Banchereau.
After receiving his medical degree from the Shandong Medical University in China, Dr. Song traveled to Texas A&M University, where he earned a Ph.D. in immunology. He then did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Cornell Medical Center in the laboratory of Ronald Crystal, M.D., a leader in the fields of gene transfer and gene therapy. Following this, Dr. Song received his training in internal medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Dr. Song comes to Dallas from Stanford University Medical Center, where he has held dual appointments as a clinical fellow physician in medical oncology and a research fellow in cancer immunology and immunotherapy. While at Stanford, he worked with renowned immunologist, Ronald Levy, M.D., from 2002 until joining BIIR and Texas Oncology.
Dr. Song is a founding member and president of the Chinese American Hematologist and Oncologist Network (CAHON), an organization for Chinese American physicians and scientists who share medical information on the fields of hematology and oncology.
Research under way at BIIR is known as “translational research.” The goal is to quickly provide medically-important laboratory findings to physicians. The physician-scientist position was created to strengthen the interactions between researchers and medical specialists and enhance the translational research effort.
Texas Oncology is the world's largest group of medical professionals devoted exclusively to cancer care. With approximately 200 practicing physicians, Texas Oncology serves patients at 88 locations throughout Texas and New Mexico, including 34 comprehensive cancer centers. Founded in 1986, Texas Oncology began as a vision of several medical oncologists at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
Dallas-based Baylor Institute for Immunology Research is the immunology research component of Baylor Research Institute, an affiliate of Baylor Health Care System. Opened in 1996, BIIR brings laboratory scientists and clinicians together in an effort to increase understanding of how the immune system works. The institute is devoted to translating basic laboratory discoveries made about the immune system into effective treatments for patients. This interdisciplinary program focuses on developing new therapies to treat conditions that involve the immune system, such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and organ transplants. The primary focus is the use of dendritic cells to modulate the immune system in beneficial ways.
Vision & MissionThe vision of Texas Oncology is to be the premier provider of oncology and hematology care in the Southwest. We have high standards for patient satisfaction and offer exceptional value in cancer care. We also strive to advance clinical research and develop innovative approaches to treatment of oncology and hematology disorders.
The mission of Texas Oncology is to provide "More breakthroughs. More victories." To this end, we give patients access to the highest quality cancer care available today within their own local communities. Our cutting-edge technologies, treatments and research are offered in welcoming and comfortable environments. We maintain comprehensive quality oversight and responsible financial management. At all times, we pride ourselves in being moral, ethical and efficient as a medical practice and employer.