Appointment of Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP

Dear Colleagues:

It gives us great pleasure to announce that, following a national search, Wafik El-Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP will join the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Lifespan hospitals, and the Division of Hematology/Oncology within the Department of Medicine and the Lifespan Cancer Institute, in January.

Dr. El-Deiry, an internationally recognized physician-scientist with expertise in cancer biology and clinical training in oncology, will serve as the inaugural director of the Brown-Lifespan Joint Program in Cancer Biology and as the inaugural Associate Dean for Oncologic Sciences at Brown University. In these roles he will work to develop a basic and translational cancer research program of national and international stature with the goal of advancing cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. The program will simultaneously contribute to the training of graduate students and postgraduate fellows, including those from hematology/oncology, pathology, and pediatrics. He will work with Jack A. Elias, MD, senior vice president for health affairs and dean of medicine and biological sciences, and key stakeholders at Lifespan hospitals to catalyze and facilitate collaborative, innovative, patient-centered oncologic research across Brown and Lifespan.

Dr. El-Deiry received his medical degree and PhD from the University of Miami School of Medicine and completed internal medicine residency and medical oncology fellowship training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, where he also completed postdoctoral training with the renowned Bert Vogelstein, MD. He comes to us from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

In Dr. El-Deiry, we believe we have found the ideal physician-scientist leader and role model for our students and fellows. As a practicing oncologist, and specialist in gastrointestinal oncology, and one who initiates clinical trials based on laboratory discoveries, we look forward to seeing the impact of cancer research in the clinic.

Dr. El-Deiry is an American Cancer Society Research Professor and, since 2014, has served as deputy director for translational research and co-leader of the Molecular Therapeutics Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Prior to that, he served as the chief of Hematology/Oncology and associate director of the Cancer Institute at Penn State University, and as a tenured professor of medicine, genetics, and pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, and co-program leader at the Abramson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. El-Deiry has published over 280 papers, has an H index of 110, and is the principal investigator on two National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grants and several industry grants supporting clinical trials. He has been continuously funded by the National Cancer Institute for two decades and currently serves as the chair of an NIH Study Section.

Dr. El-Deiry is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the Interurban Clinical Club (President, 2013-2014), and the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Dr. El-Deiry’s laboratory will be located in the 70 Ship Street building and he will participate in the clinical and teaching activities of the pathology and hematology/oncology services at Lifespan. He will care for patients with colorectal cancer at the Lifespan Cancer Institute.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. El-Deiry.



Jonathan Kurtis, MD, PhD
Stanley M. Aronson Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine


Howard Safran, MD

Chief, Hematology Oncology
Professor of Medicine


$9.4M Grant to fund antibiotics resistance research

A new $9.4 million federal grant to Lifespan will create a Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) that will help researchers from The Miriam and Rhode Island hospitals discover ways to help address the worldwide threat of drug-resistant "superbugs." Learn more about the grant and our world-renowned researchers' work. 

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Perkinelmer and Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island launch trial to evaluate performance characteristics for high-volume, noninvasive prenatal testing platform

July 10, 2018


International Conference on Prenatal Diagnosis and Therapy (ISPD), Booth #15,  Antwerp, Belgium – July 10, 2018 PerkinElmer, Inc.,  a global leader committed to innovating for a healthier world, today announced a collaboration with Women & Infants Hospital (WIH) of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, to evaluate an innovative test method using the Vanadis® NIPT system, PerkinElmer’s Vanadis NIPT system is under development and not available for clinical use in the United States. 

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) using cell-free DNA (cfDNA) has become the standard follow-up procedure for women classified as high risk following traditional prenatal screening and other national guidelines indicating risk for aneuploidy.  Unlike existing NIPT technologies which require more complex platforms such as sequencing or microarrays, the Vanadis NIPT platform is the first of its kind designed to simplify screening for trisomies 21 (Down syndrome), 18 (Edwards syndrome) and 13 (Patau syndrome).  This cost-effective, high-throughput scalable platform measures fetal chromosomal trisomies in maternal plasma by labeling and counting specific cfDNA fragments using imaging -- removing the costly and data-intensive steps required for sequencing or microarray solutions.

The VALUE (Validation of a Lower Cost Aneuploidy Screen) study is funded through a contract with Women & Infants Hospital, but the design, implementation, analyses and reporting is the sole responsibility of the study staff at Women & Infants.  The research study aims to test samples from approximately 2,650 women, most from an average risk pregnancy population, with additional high-risk cases added to determine performance characteristics such as detection rates and false positive rates.  Turnaround time, associated costs, fetal sex determination, and quality metrics will also be examined.  Women & Infants will serve as the primary study center and laboratory site.  Fourteen enrollment sites across North America are currently participating in the VALUE study.

“All pregnant women should have access to reliable, low-cost NIPT as a follow-up to aneuploidy screening, but this has not previously been possible, as the current approaches are complex, have limited capacity and require the expertise of specialized genetic laboratories,” said Linh Hoang MD, PhD, Vice President, Reproductive Health, PerkinElmer. “By incorporating novel technology and analytics, the Vanadis assay has the potential to fundamentally change the cost structure and workflow for NIPT and give more women access to cfDNA screening.  Our solution is designed to make it simpler for any laboratory to provide high-precision NIPT with a fully automated platform that they can integrate into their current screening programs and workflow.”

“We believe that it is important that prenatal screening be under local laboratory control rather than concentrated in a few large commercial laboratories.  The Vanadis technology requires less upfront investment as well as non-specialized laboratory space and technicians.   It has the potential to be as efficient as current next generation sequencing offerings, yet could be cost-competitive with current serum-based screening,” said Glenn Palomaki, PhD, associate director of the Division of Medical Screening and Special Testing at Women & Infants Hospital and professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

PerkinElmer obtained the proprietary NIPT technology through its acquisition of Vanadis Diagnostics, AB.  A research study, “Imaging Single DNA Molecules for High Precision NIPT,” recently published Nature Scientific Reports described the Vanadis NIPT technology and presented data on the feasibility of applying the assay for detection of fetal trisomy 21 in maternal plasma.

“Our group at Women & Infants has been offering prenatal screening for more than 30 years and has been a leader in identifying new methodologies and subsequently introducing them into routine prenatal care practices.  This study may provide a pathway to continuing to offer the best testing available to all pregnant women,” said Geralyn Lambert-Messerlian, PhD, director of the Division of Medical Screening and Special Testing at Women & Infants and a professor in the Departments of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

For more information on the Vanadis NIPT system, please visit, or stop in at PerkinElmer’s booth #15 at ISPD, July 8-11, 2018.

About PerkinElmer

PerkinElmer, Inc. is a global leader committed to innovating for a healthier world. Our dedicated team of about 11,000 employees worldwide is passionate about providing customers with an unmatched experience as they help solve critical issues especially impacting the diagnostics and discovery and analytical solutions markets. Our innovative detection, imaging, informatics, and service capabilities, combined with deep market knowledge and expertise, help customers gain earlier and more accurate insights to improve lives and the world around us. The Company reported revenue of approximately $2.3 billion in 2017, serves customers in more than 150 countries, and is a component of the S&P 500 Index. Additional information is available through 1-877-PKI-NYSE, or at

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns.  A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the ninth largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year.  A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit. 

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility.  It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence.  It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.

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Amy Blustein

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VALUE Study Update

The VALUE (VAlidation of a Lower cost aneUploidy screen) study is a three year project to provide an external evaluation of a reliable, yet low cost and easy to use cell free (cf)DNA prenatal screening test for Down syndrome in the late first and early second trimester.  The intended use of this test is as a primary prenatal screening test for the general pregnancy population.  Enrollment began in late 2016 and women who are at both low and high risk are being approached to join the study at 15 sites in the United States and Canada.  Currently, the samples collected are being processed at the Division of Medical Screening (Elm Street) and frozen for later testing.  Over the past few days the specialty equipment needed to test the samples has arrived at 70 Elm Street and is being installed.  One piece was so large that a crane was used on Tuesday morning to help slip it into a third story window (picture).  The technology used has been developed by Vanadis Diagnostics, a Swedish company that is now wholly owned by PerkinElmer.  The methodology used does not require the large infrastructure associated with usual genomic testing and can be performed in routine laboratory space by non-molecular technicians.

Over the next few weeks, research staff in the Division of Medical Screening will learn how to operate the system and will begin testing study samples in July.   The last of the 2500 or so samples are expected to be tested in early 2019.  At that point, it will be possible to begin evaluation of whether this technology is something that WIH may want to begin offering as an in-house clinical test.  If so, it could replace current cell free (cf) DNA testing offered by commercial laboratories that many primary prenatal care providers in Rhode Island already offer to their patients.

This project is funded by a joint contract between PerkinElmer and WIH for three years at a total cost of approximately $1.8 million.  The design, implementation, interpretation and reporting of results is entirely under the direction of Dr. Glenn Palomaki, PhD, and Dr. Geralyn Messerlian, PhD,  Associate Director and Director of the Division of Medical Screening of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine of Women & Infants Hospital respectively.  They are also Professors of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine of Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Lundy Braun wins book award

Professor Lundy Braun was a recipient of the 2018 Society for the Social Studies of Science Ludwig Fleck book award for her book Breathing Race into the Machine: The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Genetics, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2014.

Kimberle C. Chapin honored by American Society for Microbiology

Kimberle C. Chapin, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, RIH, has been selected for the 2018 Award for Research in Clinical Microbiology by the American Society for Microbiology. The award honors a distinguished scientist for research accomplishments that form the foundation for important applications in clinical microbiology.

New research awards for faculty

The March 2018 issue of Kudos, the newsletter for the Division of Biology and Medicine at Brown, recognized Department faculty who received research awards.

Karl Kelsey, Epidemiology and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, received $49,360 for “Immunomethylomics of Head and Neck Cancer Survivorship,” a Research Seed Award from OVPR.

Jonathan Kurtis, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, received $151,636 from the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for “Pre-clinical evaluation of a novel vaccine for pediatric falciparum malaria.”


James Sung joins College of American Pathologist's commission

Professor James Sung has been named the College of American Pathologists’ (CAP) Commission on Laboratory Accreditation Division Commissioner for Rhode Island and Connecticut. Division commissioners oversee inspections and assist in the evaluation and review of CAP-accredited laboratories.