Georgetown Researcher Joins Colorectal Cancer Alliance as Director of Medical Affairs

September 24, 2018

Ronit Yarden, PhD, MHSA, has joined the Colorectal Cancer Alliance as its new director of medical affairs, where she will work to develop the organization’s funding initiatives and act as liaison to its medical scientific advisory committee with the goal of promoting patient education and disease prevention.

Ronit Yarden, PhD, MHSA

Ronit Yarden, PhD, MHSA, has joined the Colorectal Cancer Alliance as its new director of medical affairs, where she will work to develop the organization’s funding initiatives and act as liaison to its medical scientific advisory committee with the goal of promoting patient education and disease prevention.

Yarden comes to her new position from Georgetown University where she was an assistant professor in the department of Human Science and a member of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. She split her time teaching genetics and genomics at the School of Nursing and Health Studies and working in her own research laboratory.

“Dr Yarden’s hire underlines the Alliance's commitment to accuracy, research, evidence-based science, expertise, and providing the best information to our nation of allies, while her distinguished tenure as a researcher and professor is invaluable to us as we strive to accomplish our mission—ending colorectal (CRC) cancer within our lifetime,” said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.

After earning her undergraduate degree and masters degree in immunology at Tel Aviv University, Yarden pursued her PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at Georgetown, followed by a fellowship with the National Institute of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute.

Yarden returned to Israel where she served as principal investigator in the Laboratory for Genomic Applications at the Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest medical center. During her tenure, she acted as adjunct professor at Bar-Ilan University and Tel Aviv University. When she left the institution in 2009 to join Georgetown once again, her laboratory remained active for 3 additional years thanks to continued funding and student research.

While working in collaboration with plant biologists and chemists, Yarden’s research laboratory at Georgetown was the first to publish findings on the anti-tumorigenic effects of strigolactones, a novel group of plant hormones. Research throughout her career focused on the function of tumor-suppressor BRCA1 in breast and ovarian cancer.

At the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Yarden will be heavily involved in determining research initiative funding. She described 3 areas where there is an unmet need in oncology care and says the Alliance will direct funding to initiatives in young-onset CRC, prevention and rectal cancer. A lack of understanding combined with the rising incidence of young-onset CRC has led the organization to pinpoint these initiatives and will award 5 grants totaling over $750,000 to worthy research proposals.

Excited about the new role with the Alliance, Yarden says “we are here to advocate on behalf of patients, survivors, and families and work together with our business partners to promote awareness. We are looking into clinical trials accrual and also promoting policy that will enhance screening for colorectal cancer.”