Institute welcomes Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi to Nevada, enriching more than a half-century of collaboration and pioneering medical research for the next generation

Reno, Nev. (May 18, 2020) – Today, the Desert Research Institute (DRI) and Renown Health proudly announce the addition of Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, FRCP to the DRI’s faculty of the Renown Institute of Health Innovation and as Director of the Institute of Cancer at Renown Health.

Dr. Pandolfi, a prominent cancer investigator, and molecular geneticist will build a translational cancer laboratory at DRI’s campus in Reno, Nevada to expand the success of the Healthy Nevada Project (the largest, community-based population health study combining genetic, clinical, environmental and social data, and offering free genetic testing to every Nevadan) into translational medicine and create world-class cancer research and clinical care program.

Dr. Pier Paolo PandolfiDr. Pandolfi will divide his time between Reno and Italy, also leading a cancer research institute in his home country that will foster knowledge exchange and international cancer research collaborations between Italy and Nevada.

“As a cancer researcher, my mission is to cure cancer. The Healthy Nevada Project and the combined resources of Renown Health and DRI give us access to an unprecedented amount of longitudinal data and the valuable genetic information we need to continue to improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of cancer and tailor approaches for treatments and cures that are unique to each individual” said Dr. Pandolfi.

“I am proud to take the unique resource of the Healthy Nevada Project, and use the information to accelerate our work to provide a population-level view of those factors that drive cancer, build better models and perhaps, timely new treatments. I am excited to build a strong collaborative bridge between the state of Nevada with our colleagues in Italy and across Europe, which will allow for the exchange of research fellows, physician, scientists, and interns,” added Pandolfi.

Dr. Pandolfi, a scientist whom the NIH deems “outstanding,” and who is leading significant contributions toward the understanding of cancer and genetics, is formerly the director of the cancer center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston and prior to that at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. His extraordinary career in the molecular understanding of cancer has resulted in major medical breakthroughs in the treatment of solid tumors and leukemia. His foundational work in the study of critical cancer genes as models for tumor suppression has helped explain the causes of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) and led to the development of innovative and effective treatments and therapies for the disease.

“Recognizing the need to expand the Healthy Nevada Project into a new era of translational medicine, we are very excited to welcome Dr. Pandolfi and his pioneering “scientific bench-to-patient bedside approach,” said Anthony Slonim, M.D., Dr.PH., FACHE, president and CEO of Renown Health and co-founder of the Renown Institute for Health Innovation and the Healthy Nevada Project. “Dr. Pandolfi’s arrival in Nevada represents a significant milestone for all of us, especially those of us who are cancer survivors. Nearly 4 in 10 of us will be diagnosed with cancer, the second-leading cause of death in the US. Dr. Pandolfi understands how genomics provides new tools for the prevention and early detection of many cancers.”

Through the Healthy Nevada Project, 50,000 Nevadans volunteered their genetic information. Dr. Pandolfi will use the insights gained during the first two phases of the Healthy Nevada Project to plan future research.

Dr. Pandolfi brings with him to Nevada, a prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute “Outstanding Investigator” award. This grant provides stable, long-term research funding to support the research activities of the Renown Institute of Health Innovation.

Dr. Pandolfi will also serve as Director of the Renown Institute for Cancer and further a goal to bring world-class, exceptional cancer care to Nevada. He will lead efforts to streamline, standardize, and personalize relationships at every point in the cancer care continuum – screening, diagnosis, treatment, and the care provided for survivors as well as those at the end of life. In addition, Dr. Pandolfi’s strong connections with the research community facilitate matching Renown patients to the right clinical trials, another example of Renown’s position at the leading edge of treatment while developing the cancer care of the future.

The addition of Dr. Pandolfi as faculty of the Renown Institute of Health Innovation also enriches a long history of collaboration between DRI and Northern Nevada’s flagship hospital system. In 1963, DRI recruited another top scientist from Harvard Medical School to lead a founding initiative between the Institute and Washoe Medical Center (known today as Renown Regional Medical Center, part of Renown Health). Dr. George Smith moved to Nevada to create the region’s first major medical research program and build the first heart and lung research lab at Washoe Medical Center, his success led him to become the founding dean of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.

“The study of human health and its connection to our environment has always had a place in DRI’s mission and research activity,” said Kumud Acharya, Ph.D., Interim President of DRI. “We are proud to welcome Dr. Pandolfi to Nevada and we are thankful for this extraordinary opportunity to meaningfully expand our health sciences research capacity to serve Nevada, together with our partners at Renown Health.”

A native of Rome, Dr. Pandolfi received his MD in 1989 and Ph.D. in 1995, both from the University of Perugia, Italy. He completed his post-graduate work at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, University of London, before joining the faculty of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Cornell University in New York in 1994. He is the author of more than 450 peer-reviewed research papers and the recipient of more than 30 awards and honors, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America Stohlman Scholar Award; the Weizmann Institute of Science: Sergio Lombroso Prize for Cancer Research; the William and Linda Steere Foundation Award; and the prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine from the American-Italian Cancer Foundation. He has also been awarded the Fondazione Cortese International Award; the Prostate Cancer Foundation Creativity Award; and the Guido Venosta Award for Cancer Research.

In 2006, Dr. Pandolfi was elected as a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Physicians and in 2007 became a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization. In 2015, Dr. Pandolfi was “Knighted” by the Republic of Italy, receiving the “Officer of the Order of the Star of Italy” by the President of the Italian Republic. More recently, Dr. Pandolfi has been elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2017 and Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 2018.

For more about the Renown Institute for Health Innovation please visit

Renown Institute for Health Innovation is a collaboration between Renown Health – a locally governed and locally owned, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California,; and the Desert Research Institute – a recognized world leader in investigating the effects of natural and human-induced environmental change and advancing technologies aimed at assessing a changing planet. Renown IHI research teams are focused on integrating personal healthcare and environmental data with socioeconomic determinants to help Nevada address some of its most complex environmental health problems; while simultaneously expanding the state’s access to leading-edge clinical trials and fostering new connections with biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Learn more at

Justin Broglio, APR
Communications Manager
Desert Research Institute
Cell: (775) 762-8320

Cassie Harris
Public Relations Business Partner
Renown Health
Cell: (775) 691-7308

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