Bogdan Czerniak, MD, PhD, is Professor of Pathology and Chairman, ad interim, of the Department of Pathology in the Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He holds The Nathan W. Lassiter Distinguished Chair in Urology and is Deputy Division Head for Research. Dr. Czerniak is a surgical pathologist with expertise in genitourinary tumors and sarcomas of soft tissue and bone who combines his diagnostic practice with an active NCI-funded laboratory research program
Dr. Czerniak’s laboratory research focuses on early events of carcinogenesis using human bladder cancer as a model disease. His laboratory is credited with the development of a unique strategy that combines whole organ topographic histologic and molecular mapping. This approach has provided unique information on initiating cancer events associated with the development of the so-called field effect. Dr. Czerniak has provided evidence for the existence of a novel class of genes, termed forerunner genes, which are located near major tumor suppressors and contribute to early expansion of intraurothelial neoplasia by their loss of function. The silencing of forerunner genes results from a combination of loss of genetic material and hypermythelation or mutation of the remaining allele. Although forerunner genes were identified and validated in human bladder cancer, initial evidence suggests that they may play a broader role in the development of many other human cancers as well.
The paradigm-shifting concept of forerunner genes postulates that their loss of function is critical for the development of the initial clonal expansion of cancer precursor lesions. Accordingly, inactivation of forerunner genes appears to occur before the loss of major tumor suppressors. The mapping evidence and the initial functional studies of forerunner genes were published in two seminal articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Laboratory Investigation. More recently, these studies have been extended to total genomic profiling and genomic sequencing, providing more detailed information on the complexity of genomic changes involved in the initiation of cancer.
Dr. Czerniak is also an international expert on bone cancers and published, together with his longtime collaborator and mentor Dr. Howard Dorfman, the textbook Bone Tumors, currently in revision for a 2nd edition. This textbook is considered by many to be the primary reference for pathologists confronted with vexing diagnostic problems of these rare and enigmatic skeletal conditions. Dr. Czerniak has authored over 150 peer-reviewed research articles and multiple textbook chapters addressing various aspects of molecular pathogenesis and diagnosis of human cancer.
Dr. Czerniak has been the recipient of many awards, including the Margaret and James A. Elkins, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award in Cancer Prevention from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2004, the Gordon Conference Award for New Frontiers in Cancer Detection and Diagnosis in 2005, and the Dr. Robert D. & Alma W. Moreton Original Research Award from the Southern Medical Association in 2010.
Beyond his basic science research program and clinical surgical pathology practice, Dr. Czerniak plays a leading role in the educational programs at his home institution, serving as the co-director of the Annual Diagnostic Pathology Review Course and the annual Pathology of the 21st Century Conference. He is actively involved in restructuring the conventional educational program in surgical pathology as one the Principal Investigators of an NCI funded T32 grant awarded for the development of a pathology fellowship combining diagnostic skills in conventional oncologic surgical pathology with integrated training in genomic profiling approaches in support of targeted therapy in cancer medicine.