Physician’s Profile

Yvonne Saenger, MD

Director, Melanoma Immunotherapy
Affiliations: 
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia
Board Certificates: 
Medical Oncology
Internal Medicine
Expertise: 
Pancreatic Cancer
Melanoma
Liver Cancer
Cancer Care
Neuroendocrine Carcinoma
About: 

As Director of Melanoma Immunotherapy and a member of the Pancreas Center, Dr. Saenger is a pioneer in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Dr. Saenger's laboratory is focused on developing new tools for the clinic designed to bring the benefits of immunotherapy to larger patient populations, in particular patients with pancreas cancer and patients with melanoma who do not respond to currently available immunotherapies.

Dr. Saenger has recently developed a 53 -immune gene panel predictive of clinical outcomes in melanoma, and this immune gene panel is the basis for a multi-center validation trial in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Saenger's melanoma research is in the area of immunogenomics and she is working in collaboration with network biologists to better understand the networks of immune genes determinative of patient outcome. She has proposed CD2 as a novel biomarker in melanoma and is currently funded to use NanoString technology, a methodology whereby genomic information can be extracted from formalin fixed banked patient samples, to validate her 53-gene panel in a large population of patients from the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group E1697 study. Her current work focuses on understanding how immunotherapy causes perturbations in immune gene expression in blood and tumor samples.

Dr. Saenger also has a strong research interest in oncolytic viruses and the benefits of combining oncolytic viruses with checkpoint blockade using anti-PD1 and anti-CTLA-4. She is studying these therapies in mouse models of melanoma and has recently initiated an initiative to administer oncolytic virus to pancreas cancer patients. Combining in situ vaccination with a live virus with checkpoint blockade offers the opportunity to combat immunosuppression within the tumor bed, a serious barrier to efficacy of immunotherapy in pancreatic cancer.

Clinically, Dr. Saenger specializes in cancer immunotherapy and she tailors her treatments to individual patient needs based on available immune based medicines. Dr. Saenger's research is supported by a Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award from the National Cancer Institute, a Cancer Immunology Innovator award American Association for Cancer Research, and the Melanoma Research Alliance. She has also been supported in the past by the Dermatology Foundation. Dr. Saenger speaks nationally and internationally on topics in immunotherapy and biomarkers.