Scientific Advisors

Alec Kimmelman, M.D., Ph.D., Founder and Scientific Consultant
Alec Kimmelman, M.D., Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at NYU Langone Medical Center and a member of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU. His laboratory has made seminal contributions to our understanding of pancreatic cancer – the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the US. In particular, recent work from his lab has established that pancreatic tumors rely on autophagy (“self-eating”) for proper growth. His research has elucidated unique metabolic pathways in pancreatic cancer and has identified how the Kras oncogene can re-wire the metabolism of these tumors.This body of work has served to define the metabolic landscape of pancreatic cancer and has paved the way for multiple clinical trials in this disease. His own research has been published in many prestigious journals, including Cell, Science, Nature, Cancer Cell, Cancer Discovery, and Genes & Development. He has received numerous honors and awards, including the Ruth Leff Siegel Award for Excellence in Pancreatic Cancer Research from Columbia University for the researcher who has made the most significant contribution to pancreatic cancer research and he was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation.
Eileen White, Ph.D., Founder and Chair of the Vescor Scientific Advisory Board
Dr. Eileen White, Ph.D. is the Chief Scientific Offer and Deputy Director for Basic Science at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is also a Distinguished Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry at Rutgers University. Dr. White currently serves on the Board of Scientific Advisors for the National Cancer Institute.

Current research of the White Laboratory at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey is focused on determining the role of the catabolic process of autophagy in protein and organelle homeostasis, and how this recycling of cellular components sustains cancer metabolism and tumorigenesis.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including a MERIT award from the National Cancer Institute, the Red Smith award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigatorship, an Achievement Award from the International Cell Death Society, a Career Award for the European Cell Death Organization, and is an elected Fellow of the American Society of Microbiology (ASM) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

She is currently on the External Advisory Boards of the Yale, Case, and MGH Comprehensive Cancer Centers and her Editorial Board memberships have included Genes & Development, Cancer Discovery, the Journal of Cell Biology, Oncogene, Cancer Prevention Research, Molecular Cancer Research, Autophagy and Cell Death and Disease.
Philip Jones, Ph.D., Executive Director and Head of Drug Discovery at the Institute for Applied Cancer Science at MD Anderson Cancer Center
Philip Jones is the Executive Director and Head of Drug Discovery at the Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS) within MD Anderson Cancer Center.
He has nearly two decades of drug discovery and development experience, nearly fifteen years with Merck at three locations worldwide, and most recently leading IACS at MD Anderson in 2011. During his career, Dr. Jones led several of Merck’s oncology drug discovery programs, overseeing cross-functional project teams that successfully delivered novel candidates into ongoing clinical trials. These include the PARP inhibitor niraparib now out-licensed to Tesaro and which recently successful completed phase 3 clinical trials. He was also involved in the successful development of Raltegravir, the first-in-class HIV integrase inhibitor. Since joining MDACC in 2011 he has brought together a highly talented team of drug discovery scientists who have successfully assembled and advanced a portfolio of projects.

IACS is a fully integrated small molecule drug discovery and development unit embedded within the comprehensive cancer center, with a mission to bring new therapies to patients. Employing a bench-at-bedside approach the Institute’s synergistic approach relies on three key components: an experienced team of professional drug discovery scientists, real-time access to insights gained by the best physician-scientists in the nation, and a clinically informed, patient-oriented research programs.

Philip Jones received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Nottingham, UK, and completed his post-doctoral research at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.
David Sabatini, M.D., Ph.D., Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Sabatini is a Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and a Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a Senior Associate Member at the Broad Institute and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and an American Cancer Society Research Professor.

David and his lab study the basic mechanisms that regulate cell growth. A major focus of the lab is the Target of Rapamycin (TOR) pathway, a major regulator of growth in many eukaryotic species. This has resulted in the identification of many components of the pathway and to an understanding of their cellular and organismal functions, most of which have implications for diseases such as cancer and diabetes. David is also interested in the role of metabolism in cancer and in the mechanisms that control the effects of dietary restriction on tumorigenesis. Additionally, his lab has developed new technologies that facilitate the analysis of gene function in mammalian cells.

David received his B.S. from Brown University magna cum laude and his M.D./Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He has received numerous honors and awards, some of which are the 2009 Paul Marks Prize, the 2014 NAS Award in Molecular Biology, the 2017 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences, and the 2017 Dickson Prize in Medicine. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2016.
Jayanta Debnath, M.D., Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco
Jayanta Debnath, M.D. is Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pathology at the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. His laboratory is widely recognized for its expertise in autophagy and cancer and pursues two broad goals: 1) delineate the multifaceted roles of autophagy in adhesion independent survival and transformation and on breast cancer progression and metastasis in vivo; and 2) dissect the biochemical and in vivo physiological functions of the molecules that control autophagy (called ATGs) to ultimately exploit this process for therapeutic benefit. His research has been published in several prestigious journals including Cell, Molecular Cell, Nature, Nature Cell Biology, and Cancer Discovery. Dr. Debnath currently serves as an Associate Editor of Autophagy, Chair of the Programmatic Review Panel for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and Chair of the Tumor Cell Biology Study Section for NIH. His major honors include an HHMI Early Career Award for Physician Scientists, DOD Breast Cancer Research Program Era of Hope Scholar Award, American Society of Cell Biology Keith Porter Mid-Career Award, and elected membership to the American Society of Clinical Investigation.