The Josie Robertson Investigators Program
The Josie Robertson Investigators Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering supports the recruitment and advancement of exceptional young scientists at a crucial early stage in their careers. Josie Robertson Investigators are among the most accomplished scientists of their generation, and with the support of the program, they are addressing some of the most important challenges in cancer medicine, including cancer metastasis, the development of rational combination strategies to delay or prevent drug resistance, the effort to mobilize the immune system to combat cancer, and genomic studies aimed at identifying specific genetic determinants for therapeutic response.
Extraordinary work led by the investigators in the past year has included:
- identification of a single molecule necessary for metastasis in gastrointestinal and, likely, other cancers that provides a promising target to halt metastases before they emerge;
- discovery of an enzyme that might be targeted with drugs in a high-precision approach to make tumor cells with chromosomal instability (which drives metastasis, immune evasion, and drug resistance) more sensitive to immunotherapy; and
- completion of a practice-changing study suggesting that all patients with a blood cancer called myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a precursor to acute myeloid leukemia, should have the status of a particular cancer gene assessed at diagnosis because loss of both copies of the gene is evidence of a high-risk form of MDS, which requires more aggressive treatment.
The Josie Robertson Investigators Program was launched in 2011 with a generous commitment from the Robertson Foundation, which also made possible the construction of MSK’s pioneering Josie Robertson Surgery Center. Since then, the program has appointed 18 gifted researchers to five-year terms, fostering innovation and discovery across the broad range of scientific inquiry.
The Robertson Foundation was established by investor Julian Robertson and his wife, the late Josephine (Josie) Robertson, along with their family. Mrs. Robertson, who was elected to MSK’s Board of Trustees in 2004, worked with her husband to support a range of causes in education, medical research, and other areas. Their son, Alexander T. Robertson, is a current member of the MSK Board of Trustees.