Jean-Pierre Issa, MD

President and Chief Executive Officer

I trained in medical oncology at Johns Hopkins, where I started my research career in the field of epigenetics and cancer. I am currently President and CEO of the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, where I moved my lab in March 2019.

The Coriell Institute was founded in 1953 and hosts world-famous biobanks (including the NIA sample biobank) as well as research programs in precision medicine and in epigenomics. Prior to that, I was professor at Temple University and Director of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research (where I remain as Adjunct Professor) and also Deputy Director, and co-leader of the Cancer Epigenetics Program at the Fox Chase Cancer Center (part of Temple Health).

My laboratory and clinical/translational interests are in the area of epigenetics, with particular emphasis on the role of DNA methylation and histone modifications in aging, cancer development and as a target for prevention and therapy for cancer. Some of the findings from my laboratory include the first description of age-related promoter hypermethylation (1994), the discovery of the CpG Island Methylator Phenotype (1999), bench to bedside clinical trials of the hypomethylating drug decitabine (2004) which contributed to its eventual FDA approval (2006) and the discovery of methylation-independent gene silencing in cancer by Polycomb group proteins (2008).

Recent findings from my laboratory include the discovery of CDK9 as a regulator of gene silencing (2018), the effects of calorie restriction on DNA methylation (2017), the use of a live cell screen to discover epigenetic drugs (2016), the use of epigenetic data to guide development of the new DNA methylation inhibitor guadecitabine (2015), and the discovery of a link between CIMP and the microbiome (2014).


Fellowship in Medical Oncology, Johns Hopkins University

Residency in Internal Medicine, Good Samaritan Hospital

M.D. The American University of Beirut

B.A., The American University of Beirut



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