Jean-Pierre Issa, MD

Education and Training

Educational Background

  • Fellowship, Medical Oncology, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 1990-1994
  • Residency, Internal Medicine, The Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore, MD, 1987-1990
  • MD, The American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon, 1987
  • BS, The American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon, 1983


  • Internal Medicine, 1990
  • Medical Oncology, 1993

Honors & Awards

  • Rosenthal Award, American Association for Cancer Research, 2011
  • Faculty Achievement Award in Basic Research, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 2007
  • American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professorship, 2007
  • Frei Award in Translational Research from the Division of Cancer Medicine, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 2006
  • Election to American Society of Clinical Investigation, 2003
  • Sidney Kimmel Foundation Scholar Award, 1997
Research Profile

Research Program

Research Interests

  • Epigenomics and genomics in normal, aging and cancer cells (DNA methylation and histone modifications; genome wide genetic changes)
  • Basic mechanisms in epigenetics
  • Tumor-suppressor genes
  • Translational studies in cancer
  • Pre-clinical and clinical research in epigenetic therapy
  • My laboratory is involved in both basic and translational research in the field of molecular epigenetics, which refers to stable gene expression states such as X-inactivation, imprinting etc. Specifically, we are interested in epigenetic mechanisms - a DNA modification termed DNA methylation that is commonly abnormal in aging tissues and in various malignancies; and histone modifications involved in determining gene expression states.

    Current projects include:

  • Large scale mapping of epigenomics patterns in normal, aging and cancer cells
  • Investigating the causes of aberrant methylation in cancer, focusing on aging; genetic changes; a particular hypermethylator phenotype we described called CpG Island methylator phenotype; environmental exposures and familial predisposition
  • Basic mechanisms governing the establishment of DNA methylation in normal and cancer cells
  • Studying the causes and consequences of DNA methylation changes in normal aging tissues. Does reducing methylation prevent tumor formation and prolong lifespan?
  • Clinical implications of methylation profiling in cancer. Can we identify subgroups with particular characteristics, prognosis, etc.?
  • Clinical trials of drugs that affect histone modifications and DNA methylation are ongoing. Can we predict who will respond to the drugs? Can we make the therapy better? Does it work the way it is supposed to?
  • Screens for drugs that affect epigenetics, alone or in synergy with current FDA approved molecules.

Selected Publications

Good CR, Panjarian S, Kelly AD, Madzo J, Patel B, Jelinek J, Issa JJ. TET1-mediated hypomethylation activates oncogenic signaling in triple-negative breast cancer. Cancer Res, 2018. PubMed

Yamazaki J, Taby R, Jelinek J, Raynal NJ, Cesaroni M, Pierce SA, Kornblau SM, Bueso-Ramos CE, Ravandi F, Kantarjian HM, Issa JP, Hypomethylation of TET2 Target Genes Identifies a Curable Subset of Acute Myeloid Leukemia. J Natl Cancer Inst 108:2()2015 Nov 13 26568194

Laumet G, Garriga J, Chen SR, Zhang Y, Li DP, Smith TM, Dong Y, Jelinek J, Cesaroni M, Issa JP, Pan HL, G9a is essential for epigenetic silencing of K(+) channel genes in acute-to-chronic pain transition. Nat Neurosci 18:12(1746-55)2015 Dec 26551542

Kopetz S, Desai J, Chan E, Hecht JR, O'Dwyer PJ, Maru D, Morris V, Janku F, Dasari A, Chung W, Issa JP, Gibbs P, James B, Powis G, Nolop KB, Bhattacharya S, Saltz L, Phase II Pilot Study of Vemurafenib in Patients With Metastatic BRAF-Mutated Colorectal Cancer. J Clin Oncol 33:34(4032-8)2015 Dec 1 26460303

Qin T, Si J, Raynal NJ, Wang X, Gharibyan V, Ahmed S, Hu X, Jin C, Lu Y, Shu J, Estecio MR, Jelinek J, Issa JP, Epigenetic synergy between decitabine and platinum derivatives. Clin Epigenetics 7:1(97)2015 26366234.  

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