After completing his fellowship in leukemia at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota,
Alex Niu, MD, joined a team of researchers and practitioners at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center working to develop new immunotherapies.
Dr. Niu received his medical training at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland before completing his residency in internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati. In addition to his fellowship at the Mayo Clinic, he previously had a fellowship in hematology/oncology at Tulane School of Medicine.
With a focus on immunotherapy, CAR T-cell therapy and bispecific treatments, Dr. Niu believes a more direct, targeted approach will become the gold standard for leukemia and other diseases in the near future, offering patients a better quality of life.
“We’re trying to integrate the patient’s own immune system back into the fight,” he says. “We’re finding ways to re-engage the immune system. We’re going to be able to continually alter our treatments to attack cancer mutations and hopefully keep cancer at bay, where patients are able to continually survive and live longer than projected.”
Hi, my name is Alex New. I'm an assistant professor of medical oncology in the lymphoma section of the Department of Medicine here at Russell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. I went to medical school at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. I chose the field of lymphoma because lymphoma is one of those fields in cancer that has just been exploding. So one, a lymphoma can be an aggressive cancer. And so I really enjoy being there for patients when they are dealing with very life threatening and very scary situations. And lymphoma is one of those cases where when patients hear that word, they get very scared. And so I really wanted to be in a field that could be there to help them treat this cancer. Now, lymphoma is also one of those cancers where patients can come in looking very, very sick and you know, close to dying and with the correct treatment, they can be walking out of the hospital in 2 to 3 weeks. That has just been an amazing field that I love to be a part of. And so that's why I really love lymphoma. My research focuses on aggressive lymphoma So particularly the fus large B cell lymphoma, high grade B cell lymphomas, and Hodgkin's lymphoma. In particular, with those I am more focused on the relapse refractory setting specifically after front line treatment as well as after car t therapy. Another part of my research also focuses on cellular therapy or immunotherapy. So I have a lot of interest in car T therapy with bis specific antibody therapy as well as other antibody drug conjugate therapies. Coming up. Specifically, I'm also interested in developing clinical trials focused on phase one studies where we have investigator initiated studies looking particularly at car T cell therapies as well as by specific therapies in the relapse setting. I'm also interested in phase one, phase two, phase three clinical trials with aggressive lymphomas as well as other lymphomas and kind of being the local P I on these and working with Cooper groups. I think the most exciting thing about lymphoma is really immunotherapy and cellular therapy. I think over the last 5 to 10 years, we have really gone from a more chemotherapy approach, which is more of a shotgun approach where we give chemotherapy and just hope that it'll knock out the cancer to now more focused approach where we're trying to integrate the patient's own immune system back into the fight. I think the future of lymphoma and cancer in general is really focused on cellular therapies and immune therapies, bringing the patient's immune system back into the fight where cancers have found ways to really evade the immune system. So finding ways to really re engage the immune system, whether it's through car T therapy, whether it's through by specific antibodies, whether it's through integrating other antigens back into the fold into the cancer fight. That is where I think we're going to see where this field is taking off. I think we're going to still have our base chemotherapy, but we're going to be adding all these immunotherapies, cellular therapies to it where the cancer may be able to mutate, which is what it normally does to try to invade our treatments. But we're going to be able to continually alter our treatments to attack those mutations and hopefully keep the cancers at bay where patients are able to continually survive and live way longer than what's been projected for it. Through my medical training, I've been through a lot of different facilities. I went to medical school in Oregon. I did my residency in Ohio. I did my first fellowship in Louisiana, my second fellowship in Minnesota. And then now I'm here in Western New York. So having seen what different facilities across the country have to offer when I came and interviewed here at Rossell Park, I knew that this would be a great place for me. Roswell Park has the opportunity to turn into one of the premier sites for cellular therapies across the entire country. Rainier Brechin, Doctor Marco Davila, Doctor Brian Betts. When I met them on my interview, they really presented this idea of what this facility could be and what I could do to help bring that up. And that was really a big driving force for what I wanted to bring to the table. And what I was looking for in my first junior faculty position. I knew that I wanted the mentorship, the ability to develop research and have the support of the entire team behind me. And I knew that Dr Brechin and Doctor Davila and Dr Betts would offer that support for me. The other part of why I wanted to come here was I knew I wanted to be involved with an NC I designated cancer center. I wanted the opportunity to have all the resources available to not only develop all the next cutting edge treatment, but also to have the access to present all of the resources to my patients. So I could give them the best treatment. I also knew that I wanted a place where I could grow my young family. We have a 10 month old and my wife and I knew we wanted a community where it would be great for her to grow up in and to be really become integrated into the community. And Buffalo was advertised as that. So all of that with the ability to develop my career, the ability to give my patients the best care and the ability to kind of grow family was all the reasons why I decided to choose Russell Park and come to Buffalo.