Researcher’s Profile

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Top Doctor: 
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Mark L. Heaney, MD, PhD

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Mark Heaney received his undergraduate education at Harvard and graduate education at the University of Virginia where he received an M.D. and a Ph.D. in microbiology. After Internal Medicine residency at SUNY Stony Brook, he had fellowship training in Hematology and Medical Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Heaney subsequently joined the faculty at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. As a member of the Leukemia Service for nearly 20 years, Dr. Heaney continued laboratory research, initially studying the cell surface receptors that govern white blood cell development and leukemia cell growth. More recently, he has focused on metabolic differences between leukemia cells and normal cells that can provide insight into how leukemias behave in the individual patient and how they respond to treatment. His finding that vitamin C has the potential to blunt the beneficial effects of chemotherapy has been widely cited.

Dr. Heaney has also been an active clinical investigator. He has been the Principal Investigator of many clinical trials that have aimed at developing new treatments for leukemia. In particular, he has focused on new treatments of the myeloproliferative neoplasms, primary myelofibrosis, polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia, but has also studied new treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia, mastocytosis and Langerhans cell histiocytosis in keeping with his clinical expertise in rare blood cancers.

Dr. Heaney joined the faculty at CUMC in January, 2013. He has continued his commitment to caring for patients with blood cancers, developing new treatments including cutting edge clinical trials, and laboratory research that concentrates on translating discoveries from the bench to the bedside. He also renewed his investment in medical education, becoming Director of the Hematology and Medical Oncology Fellowship Program in 2014.

Quote: 

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I have had a long-standing interest in and committment to some of the least common blood cancers. These include the myeloproliferative neoplasms like myelofibrosis, essential thrombocythemia, polycythemia vera and chronic myeloid leukemias but also include even rarer diseases like hairy cell leukemia, mastocytosis, large granular lymphocytic leukemia and the histiocyte diseases-- Langerhan&#39;s cell histiocytosis, Rosai-Dorfman disease and Erdheim-Chester disease. In addition to providing care based on personal experience with dozens of patients with these diseases and a comprehensive knowledge of the medical literature and evidence, I have attempted to develop clinical trials for most of these conditions to provide additional therapeutic options and cutting edge treatments.</p>

Research Statement: 

We have developed a comprehensive clinical trials portfolio to identify new treatment options for patients with all stages of chronic myeloid leukemias, the myeloproliferative neoplasms and myelodysplastic syndrome. For chronic myeloid leukemia, we have clinical trials that also explore the possibility that treatment might be stopped in patients who achieve a high quality response. Our trials include the use of currently-approved drugs administered in novel ways and new agents, either alone or combined with proven therapies, in an effort to improve responses and/or reduce side effects. We are also partnering with research laboratories, both academic and in the pharmaceutical industry to identify new treatments, particularly in the very rare diseases that I treat that do not have proven therapies. Our clinical trials are used as an adjunct to existing treatments in order to provide patients with treatment options that fit best with the patient’s specific needs.

I have also had a long interest in laboratory research focused on the biology of blood cancers. Together with my colleagues we are developing a test that may help identify which patients with chronic blood cancers are more likely to need treatment sooner. We also believe that we can exploit the differences in the biology of the cells in patients with more aggressive disease to identify new targets that will lead to better treatments.

Publications: 

Heaney ML, Vera JC, Raines MA, Golde DW:  Membrane-associated and soluble granulocyte/macrophage-colony-stimulating factor receptor a subunits are independently regulated in HL-60 cells.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 92:2365-2369, 1995

Heaney ML, Golde DW:  Myelodysplasia.  New Engl J Med 340:1649-1659, 1999

Niu L, Golde DW, Vera JC, Heaney ML:  Kinetic resolution of two mechanisms for high-affinity granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor binding to its receptor.  Blood  94:3748-3753, 1999

Golde DW, Caggiano J, Heaney ML: Cladribine misdosing in hairy cell leukemia: a cause for apparent response failure.  Leukemia Lymphoma 43: 365-367, 2002

Brown WE, Coakley FV, Heaney ML: CT of renal involvement by Rosai Dorfman Disease.  Abdominal Imaging 27: 214-216, 2002