Dr Susan Bates is a medical oncologist and Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, NY. She received her M.D. degree from the University of Arkansas for Medical Science, and completed her clinical training in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, MD. Dr Bates was a Lead Clinical Investigator and Head of the Molecular Therapeutics Section in the Developmental Therapeutics Branch of the Center for Cancer Research before moving to Columbia University in August 2015.
During her years at the NCI, Dr Bates led a highly successful translational research program focused on mechanisms of multidrug resistance and approaches to evaluate and improve the activity of epigenetic modifying agents. Her laboratory was among the first to clone the multidrug transporter ABCG2, eventually characterizing its function and its role in chemo-resistance and chemo-protection. This effort built upon earlier work elaborating the role of the multi-drug transporter P-glycoprotein that had defined the drug sensitivity profiles of cell lines in vitro, particularly in the NCI-60 cell line panel. The latter observation continues to impact how the NCI-60 cell line panel is used in drug discovery, and helped her identify a novel agent, at that time known as depsipeptide. Dr Bates brought this drug to the clinic and after completing its phase I testing, served as Principal Investigator of a multi-institutional, international Phase II study of romidepsin (depsipeptide) in cutaneous and peripheral T-cell lymphoma. Working with Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, the data from this study were included in New Drug Applications (NDA) to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This partnership led to approval by the FDA of romidepsin for two indications - initially for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and later for peripheral T-cell lymphoma.
Dr. Bates' current interests are both laboratory and clinical in nature. Her laboratory efforts include laboratory and translational studies on drug resistance in T-cell lymphomas and advanced solid tumors, with a focus on pancreatic cancer. Her goal is finding antineoplastic agents that, alone or in combination with other anticancer agents, improve the options available for difficult to treat cancers, with the aim of translating ideas from the laboratory to clinical trials. Emanating from the clinical and translational development of romidepsin, a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, a current focus is on epigenetics, and translating epigenetic therapies to drug resistant solid tumors.