Dr. Susan Bates received her M.D. degree from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine. She completed her clinical training in internal medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and in medical oncology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, MD. Dr. Bates was a Lead Clinical Investigator and Head of the Molecular Therapeutics Section in the Developmental Therapeutics Branch of the Center for Cancer Research before moving to Columbia University in August 2015.
During her years at the NCI, Dr. Bates led a highly successful translational research program focused on mechanisms of multidrug resistance and approaches to evaluate and improve the activity of epigenetic modifying agents. Her laboratory was among the first to clone the multidrug transporter ABCG2, eventually characterizing its function and its role in chemo-resistance and chemo-protection. This effort built upon earlier work elaborating the role of the multi-drug transporter P-glycoprotein that had defined the drug sensitivity profiles of cell lines in vitro, particularly in the NCI-60 cell line panel. The latter observation continues to impact how the NCI-60 cell line panel is used in drug discovery, and helped her identify a novel agent, at that time known as depsipeptide. Dr. Bates brought this drug to the clinic and after completing its phase I testing, served as Principal Investigator of a multi-institutional, international Phase II study of romidepsin (depsipeptide) in cutaneous and peripheral T-cell lymphoma. Working with Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, the data from this study were included in New Drug Applications (NDA) to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This partnership led to approval by the FDA of romidepsin for two indications – initially for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and later for peripheral T-cell lymphoma.
Dr. Bates’ current interests are both laboratory and clinical in nature. Her laboratory efforts include laboratory and translational studies on drug resistance in T-cell lymphomas and advanced solid tumors including breast, pancreatic, neuroendocrine, renal and lung cancers. Her work is dedicated to new drug development, and finding antineoplastic agents that, alone or in combination with other anticancer agents, improve the options available for difficult to treat cancers. Emanating from the clinical and translational development of romidepsin, a histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor, a current focus is on epigenetic therapies, and the development of combination therapies to use with HDAC inhibitors in refractory advanced cancers, including solid tumors. She also has a special interest in drug delivery and drug distribution and the role of the blood brain barrier in creating a sanctuary site for cancers that metastasize to the brain. Clinically, her goal has always been to translate ideas from the laboratory to clinical trials, an effort that has proven very successful. Clinically she seeks to develop combination therapies with histone deacetylase inhibitors for the therapy of solid tumors; and to develop therapies to treat central nervous system metastases, a complication of cancer that is becoming a greater problem as patients live longer with cancer.