Get to know Oncologist Dr. Richard D. Carvajal, who serves patients in New York, New York.
As the Director of Experimental Therapeutics and Director of the Melanoma Service at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Dr. Carvajal is focused on the development of novel therapies for patients with melanoma and other cancers, with the overall objective of controlling and curing these diseases.
To achieve this goal, he uses the increasing knowledge of the underlying biology of cancer to rapidly integrate this knowledge, novel therapeutic agents, and efficient trial design in order to improve the outcomes of cancer patients everywhere. Working closely with the laboratory scientists, the group is using the techniques of molecular biology to identify specific proteins, genes, or other molecules that influence the growth of each person’s cancer, with the goal of selecting the most promising therapies for individual patients.
Throughout his academic career, Dr. Carvajal graduated with his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine in 2000. He then performed his residency at the University of Michigan Medical Center, and his fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Following his training, he attained board certification in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hematology by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). The ABIM is a physician-led, non-profit, independent evaluation organization driven by doctors who want to achieve higher standards for better care in a rapidly changing world.
In researching melanoma, Dr. Carvajal has focused his efforts on the study and treatment of uncommon clinical and molecular subsets of melanoma such as melanomas arising from the eye (uveal melanomas), from the mucosal surfaces of the body (mucosal melanomas), and from the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, or under the fingernails (acral melanomas).
In an advance that helped to launch a new era of personalized medicine in melanoma therapy, Dr. Carvajal led a clinical trial of imatinib (Gleevec) in patients with melanoma characterized by the presence of a mutation in a gene called KIT. While this mutation is rare in cutaneous melanoma, it is found in about 20% of mucosal and acral melanomas. Based in part on the positive results of this trial, where long-lasting tumor responses were observed in patients with these diseases, the use of imatinib in melanomas harboring KIT mutations was added to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for the treatment of melanoma. Uveal melanoma is characterized by mutations in genes called GNAQ and GNA11 that lead to activation of a growth pathway called the MAPK pathway. Before 2013, there were no effective treatments for metastatic disease; however, another trial that Dr. Carvajal developed and conducted identified selumetinib, a medicine that blocks the MAPK pathway, as the first effective treatment for patients with advanced uveal melanoma.
The doctor’s research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, the Melanoma Research Alliance, the Melanoma Research Foundation, the Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program, and the generous philanthropic support of patients and their families.
In addition to Dr. Carvajal’s work at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, he serves as the Co-Chair of the International Rare Cancer Initiative Uveal Melanoma Working Group, a joint initiative between the National Cancer Institute, the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer, and the Cancer Research UK. He is also affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, and serves as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
Oncology is a branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. A medical professional who practices oncology is an oncologist. An oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer and provides medical care for a person diagnosed with cancer. They lead a cancer treatment team of various healthcare professionals, treat patients with radiation therapy, coordinate treatment plans and prescribe various types of treatment, including chemotherapy and immunotherapy, as well as assist patients with pain management.
In light of his vast accomplishments, Dr. Carvajal has authored or co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts, books, and book chapters. He has received several awards in recognition of his work, including the Louise and Allston Boyer Young Investigator Award and the Melanoma Research Foundations CURE OM Vision of Hope Award.
Learn More about Dr. Richard D. Carvajal:
Through his findatopdoc profile, https://www.findatopdoc.com/doctor/2902330-Richard-Carvajal-Oncologist or through Columbia University Irving Medical Center, https://www.columbiadoctors.org/richard-d-carvajal-md
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