Peter Maslak, MD, is an expert Hematologic Oncologist, joining Roswell Park as Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs, Director of Flow Cytometry in the Immune Monitoring Shared Resource and the Technical Director of the Flow Cytometry Lab. With more than 25 years’ experience in clinical flow cytometry and immunophenotyping, Dr. Maslak discusses his work, what brought him to Roswell Park, and what excites him about immune monitoring, flow cytometry, and their roles in the future of cellular therapies at Roswell Park.
Hi, I'm Peter Mask Black. I'm Vice Chair for the Department of Medicine in charge of Clinical Affairs. I'm Director of the Flow Saitama Tree Immune Monitoring Core Facility. Um, coming to Roswell from downstate. I, I actually was raised in New York. I'm a New York boy and I've actually gone to school in New York. I went to college at Columbia. I went to medical school at Mount Sinai and then for a couple of years, I actually moved to Ann Arbor. So I did my residency at the University of Michigan And then I moved back to Sloan Kettering where I've been for the last 35 years. And so during that time, I've actually had a number of different positions at Sloan Kettering. I'm a hematologist, oncologist by training and my specialty was in the year of Leukemia. But as an offshoot, I got involved into some of the pathology areas, including the diagnosis of cancer, as well as the management of a clotting laboratory. So I spent a lot of time there and eventually I transitioned over to the Department of Pathology at Sloan Kettering. Coming here. It's a bit of a change because I guess in my most recent role, I had actually not done as much clinical work, but I will do some clinical work here. I find that really sort of fascinating and, and I think it's actually as we were talking about a contribution to the whole team is important. And so I'll do some of that particularly as some of the effects of cancer and cancer therapies on the hematology system and the immune system. And that's another area of my focus is that at some countering, I was running a laboratory of immunology that supported transplants, supported the car T cell programs, which you know, at Roswell, that's an expanding area. And so we're gonna be doing a lot of that and with the recruitment of Dr branches and Dr Davila will actually be building out that program to something that's uh you know, greater than it is now and has national even international stature. I mean, we talked about the National Cancer Act, but interestingly enough for my field of X of focus, which is flow Saitama tree. Roswell Park has a grand history as being one of the premier laboratories in the country. And so years back, there was a gentleman called Colin Stewart who actually did some fundamental work and flow Saitama tree and there's always been on the cutting edge. So as the opportunity came and that's actually one of the main hooks to get me here was to basically be in charge of that laboratory and work with the scientists here. It was just a natural transition. I mean, it was almost like they made me an offer. I couldn't refuse our our primary charges to actually support the research that goes on at the institution. And that involves a number of different areas. Scientists come to us because they have a question that they want to answer. And so we work with them, looking at the machinery of the techniques that might be able to help them advance their hypothesis. And so that's fundamental to their work. And we're a collaborative laboratory, so they can come in and use the instrumentation once we train them or they can, you know, take advantage of our expertise to kind of help them make a more convincing argument for what they really are trying to prove. So I think that that's uh that's an important role for the institution. As are most of the research, the shared resources of this institution, they provide a fundamental support for our scientists and our clinicians to help advance science and the care of cancer. So the immune monitoring program is actually will actually be in support of the really expansion of the car T cell service as well as our transplant service. And the reason why this is important is that we need monitoring in terms of actually telling us how well, how well our treatments are working. And so this field is evolving as we become more sophisticated and not only being able to describe the certain cells that have been raised or that have been been infused, but also in how these cells interact with both the tumor and the host to really provide a long lasting response. I think the thing that's exciting is that again with the translation for something that now that's basic research will eventually become standard of care, laboratory monitoring. So this will better able to help us take patients decide who's going to get what type of therapy and optimize their care for their particular tumor and their particular makeup. Because you know, immunology, I don't want to make it sound too complicated, but it's different. I mean, people's responses to something like a vaccine or transplant may be dependent on their genetics in a sense. And so it's important to recognize that there may be a range of responses and to better actually choose step a versus step be for an individual person may help their outcomes, the resources that are available, Roswell, that makes it unique because we have this interface with a number of different other disciplines. And so that's the name of the game is to be part of a team because various aspects can fit together. So, you know, this field is evolving, there's a commitment from the institution to be on the cutting edge of that. And that's another thing that makes it exciting and lures people to come