Lionel B. Ivashkiv, M.D., Hospital for Special Surgery

Lionel B. Ivashkiv

Developing Scientific Programs

Editors’ Note

Dr. Lionel Ivashkiv is also Professor of Medicine and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine. He holds the Richard L. Menschel Research Chair and is the David H. Koch Chair in Arthritis and Tissue Degeneration at HSS. Dr. Ivashkiv is also an Attending Physician and Director of the David Z. Rosensweig Genomics Research Center at HSS.

Will you define your role with HSS and the broad areas of focus you address?

My role is to develop the scientific programs that are going to have the biggest impact on the discovery side. This involves the creation of new knowledge, but it’s also very important that we work on translating these discoveries and moving them into the clinic to improve the care of our patients.

As the CSO, I oversee the entire spectrum of clinical, translational, and basic research. One of my jobs is to integrate those so we can identify the most important problems in the clinic, work on them at the bench, and bring back any discoveries and findings to our patients.

How critical to your success is the commitment from HSS on research?

A great strength of HSS is our combination of excellence in the clinical and research areas. We’re one of the few institutions that really works on bringing those two together.

We’re also one of the few in the world that is solely focused on musculoskeletal conditions in orthopedics and rheumatology.That allows us to leverage the power of numbers and resources. This is not just because of our resources in science, but also our access to large populations of patients that we can study.

One of my goals as CSO has been to move from model systems, where things are often studied in mice and flies, to the study of humans and patients. That is where we can really learn what is causing the problem, and it is the most direct path to helping solve it.

A big initiative has been to introduce genomic approaches to study our patients. Tightly linked with that is the introduction of precision medicine, where we study our patients in exquisite detail. This includes clinical characterization and very sophisticated imaging, but also the investigation of tissue and blood samples to look for molecular pathways and signatures.

We’re trying to bring this all together so we can come up with the best treatment for the patient from the start of care.

Another very important area we’re getting into is gaining an understanding of the variability in an individual’s response to therapy and injury.Surgeons will often say they can perform the same procedure on two different people and do the same great job technically, but the outcomes are different. A big effort is underway to understand this so we can improve our outcomes and prevent complications.