A leader in the field of epigenetics, Dr. Baylin has been investigating the genetic bases of cancer for most of his distinguished career. He was an original principal investigator on the epigenetic portion of the Cancer Genome Atlas project, whose goal was to identify the genomic changes that occur in cancer, and his research has provided valuable insights into promoter hypermethylation and its key role in human cancers. His efforts have shown that runaway methylation negatively affects the expression of tumor suppressor genes. These densely methylated genes have proved to be a useful marker for cancer risk assessment, early diagnosis, and prognostic monitoring, resulting in direct therapeutic value for clinical examination of DNA methylation markers.
Dr. Baylin’s laboratory has also identified chronic inflammation as a rapid promoter of the widespread methylation of genes, potentially laying the groundwork for cancer. His investigation into how excess methylation could be prevented and the suppressor genes reactivated has important translational significance. Epigenetic therapy is the focus of the Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team that he and Dr. Peter Jones currently lead. Early in his career, when he was at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Dr. Baylin also characterized the biology and genetics of a rare hereditary thyroid cancer.
2017 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences
2014 SU2C Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Award
2011 Medal of Honor, American Cancer Society
2010 Nakahara Memorial Lecture, Princess Takematsu Symposium
2010 Alfred G. Knudson Award for Excellence in Cancer Genetics, National Cancer Institute
2009 Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research
2008 David Workman Memorial Award, Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation
2008 Raffaele Tecce Memorial Lecture, Rome
2005 Simon M. Shubitz Cancer Prize and Lectureship
2005 Jack Gibson Visiting Professorship, University of Hong Kong Queen Mary Hospital
2004 National Investigator of the Year Award, National Cancer Institute SPORE Program
2004-2007 Board of Directors, AACR
1990 Edwin B. Astwood Award Lecture, Endocrine Society
1968 MD, Duke University