The eDyNAmiC team is supported through the Cancer Grand Challenges initiative. Learn more here

An Interview with eDyNAmiC Team Lead, Dr. Paul Mischel

May 21, 2024

An Interview with eDyNAmiC Team Lead, Dr. Paul Mischel

May 21, 2024
Paul Mischel
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As part of Team eDyNAmiC’s “Getting to Know You” series, program manager, Pema Richeson, will ask team members four questions to learn more about them, their research, and their hopes for eDyNAmiC.

To kick off the series, Pema sat down with Team Lead, Dr. Paul Mischel. 

Name & Role: Paul Mischel, Team Lead 

What led you to this line of work?

I lost my father to cancer when I was 14 and decided that I wanted to do something about it. I became a pathologist to look the enemy in the eyes. However, as a pathologist, I realized that I would spend the rest of my life looking the enemy in the eyes, so I trained as a scientist. Then I lived multiple lives – first, I was a translational scientist, then I was a basic scientist, then a physician-scientist, and then I came to Stanford to try and put it all together around the challenge of ecDNA. Stanford is an extraordinary environment to do that. I am deeply motivated and inspired by my colleagues, and I feel very fortunate that if we get this right, we will make a difference for people with cancer.

What makes Cancer Grand Challenges and eDyNAmiC unique?

Cancer Grand Challenges is a very bold and ambitious idea. If you’re going to try and tackle the most important challenges in cancer, they are, by definition, difficult, you need to bring together people from very different backgrounds break down boundaries and get people to work together in a very different kind of way to make a difference for people with cancer.

Team eDyNAmiC is a team that is formed to tackle the challenge of extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA). We’ve come together as experts in fields that range from cancer genomics, evolutionary theory, mathematics, computer science, computational biology, chemistry, immunology, the clinic, and patient advocacy to put together an approach to tackle this Grand Challenge. Above all, we came together as a team with a promise to put our egos aside and work together in an unprecedented spirit of collaboration. 

We are guided by our patient advocates. As we began the process of working together, we brought the patient advocates in as equals from the very beginning. But what’s happened as the team has evolved, is that they’ve begun to lead us. They are leading and telling us what we should be doing together. And I find that very gratifying. They are central parts of everything.

What does Team eDyNAmiC hope to achieve?

Team eDyNAmic is aiming to answer a number of very fundamental questions, and in answering the questions, each question sheds light on each of the other questions. It’s an iterative learning cycle. We want to bring hope to patients, including the concept of new first-in-class drugs. We are bringing together people with very personalized expertise to solve this problem. 

What is your hope for the grant ?

Some problems are so massive and so challenging the only way to solve them is to integrate pieces across multiple domains and that requires different types of infrastructure, people who are willing to work in a different type of way, and a different type of support – Cancer Grand Challenges is designed to address all of those. We are honored that CGC selected extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) as a challenge. This is a huge challenge for people with cancer. If we roll up our sleeves together as a team and break the traditional boundaries, we are going to make a difference for science and ultimately for patients.

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