Janice M. Mehnert, MD, a nationally recognized expert in early phase therapeutics and the treatment of skin malignancies, has been appointed associate director for clinical research at NYU Langone Health’s Perlmutter Cancer Center. She assumes her post July 1, 2020.
Dr. Mehnert was previously an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she was recruited in 2007 to develop a clinical and translational research program for the expert diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers. Since 2010, she has led a National Cancer Institute (NCI)–funded laboratory focused on developing new strategies for treating malignant melanoma by inhibiting autophagy, a survival mode for cancer cells, and promoting a tumor cell death process called apoptosis. Several concepts arising from this research have made it from the lab to clinical trials.
Following her success in the early phase trial space, Dr. Mehnert was appointed the regional phase 1 clinical program director at Rutgers Cancer Institute, where she supervised a unit of faculty members with expertise across multiple types of solid tumors in the conduct of phase 1 clinical research studies for patients across the tristate area and the country. In this role, Dr. Mehnert shaped the development of multiple agents including targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and first-in-human compounds.
As a principal investigator of the Keynote-028 trial, Dr. Mehnert and colleagues investigated the effects of the immune checkpoint inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) in multiple difficult-to-treat cancers, including thyroid and neuroendocrine tumors and small cell lung cancer. Data from this trial contributed to the 2019 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of pembrolizumab for the treatment of small cell lung cancer.
In addition to her laboratory, clinical, and administrative expertise, Dr. Mehnert has a decade-long history of collaboration with the NCI–Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (NCI-CTEP) Early Therapeutic Clinical Trials Network, a network of centers throughout the country that work with the NCI on early stage clinical trials. Dr. Mehnert also served as co-leader of the Clinical Investigations and Precision Therapeutics Program at Rutgers, a Cancer Center Research Program that united basic, clinical, and population scientists to develop novel paradigms for cancer prevention and treatment, and provided an important vehicle to mentor and develop the talents of faculty investigators.
At Perlmutter Cancer Center, Dr. Mehnert will see patients with the Melanoma and Skin and Phase 1 Disease Management Groups. In her role as associate director for clinical research, Dr. Mehnert will lead Perlmutter Cancer Center to enhance its interactions with NCI-CTEP, expand early phase trial activity in collaboration with the cancer center’s network sites in Brooklyn and Long Island, and further develop a strong culture of clinical and translational investigation.
“We are thrilled to attract an individual as talented and accomplished as Janice Mehnert to oversee clinical research across our large network,” says Benjamin G. Neel, MD, PhD, director of Perlmutter Cancer Center. “We look forward to having her take our rapidly expanding clinical trial efforts to new heights to the benefit of the Perlmutter Cancer Center patient population.”
“The science at NYU Langone is just extraordinary, and the translational link between the clinic and the lab at Perlmutter Cancer Center is something I’m really looking forward to helping to grow,” Dr. Mehnert says. “We’re learning more and more that cancer doesn’t travel well, and as Perlmutter Cancer Center expands its clinical research footprint into Brooklyn and Long Island, there’s a lot we can do through collaboration to offer people world-class care a little bit closer to home.”
About Dr. Mehnert
An alum of Rutgers College, Dr. Mehnert received her medical degree from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, during which time she completed a one-year Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Scholar Fellowship doing laboratory research at the National Institutes of Health. After finishing her clinical training at Mount Sinai Hospital, she completed a fellowship in medical oncology and hematology at Yale Cancer Center.
Dr. Mehnert has held leadership positions on several international committees, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Melanoma and Skin Scientific and Education Committees (committee chair), the Steering Committee for the Society for Melanoma Research, and the NCI Investigational Drug Steering Committee. An internationally recognized authority in developmental therapeutics and skin cancers, Dr. Mehnert is the author of more than 100 publications, book chapters, and abstracts.