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Lynda Chin 'Powerful Force in Science'

Conquest - Fall 2011

Activities, like miniature golf, are important to the 
DePinho family: (clockwise from left) Alexis, Ronald 
DePinho, Carolyn, Joseph and Lynda Chin.

Among Leaders of Cancer Genome Atlas Project

By David Berkowitz

As a busy medical student in 1978 at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, Ronald DePinho found time to follow another passion — martial arts.

Little did he realize that founding the Einstein Hapkido Tae Kwon Do School would lead to a long-term relationship with his future wife and renowned physician-scientist, Lynda Chin, M.D.

“She happened to be one of my students, and it was, more or less, love at first sight,” DePinho says.

Chin and her family immigrated to the United States from mainland China when she was 15. She was valedictorian of her high school class and graduated from Brown University, before earning her medical degree at Albert Einstein.

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Today, Chin is a member of the MD Anderson faculty and among the leaders of a national project that is changing the way we look at the cancer genome.

Before becoming chair of the new Department of Genome Medicine in the Division of Cancer Medicine, Chin was scientific director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and co-leader of the Melanoma Disease Program for Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

A board-certified dermatologist, she also was a professor in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber and professor in the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School.

Scientist, wife, mother, business woman

Described by DePinho as “an extraordinary scientist,” Chin is actively involved in “one of the most ambitious projects in the history of life sciences.”

She serves on the executive subcommittee of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, a massive effort to accelerate understanding of the molecular basis of cancer through genome analysis technologies.

Chin is co-principal investigator for TCGA’s Genome Data Analysis Consortium. Known as the “fire hose project,” it focuses on mining and translating complex genome data to ultimately identify novel cancer targets and diagnostic biomarkers.

“What’s also remarkable about her is that she’s the founder of several biotechnology companies, the mother of our three children (Alexis, 10; Carolyn, 8; Joseph, 7) … and somehow finds the time to take care of the family in a warm and supportive way,” DePinho says. “She also has been very supportive of my career.”

Chin co-founded Aveo Pharmaceuticals, a cancer biotechnology company that emphasizes cancer biology, and Metamark Genetics, a cancer diagnostic company that develops prognostic and predictive diagnostic tests for personalized treatment of cancer patients.

“She’s a very powerful force in science. In Boston, I was known as Mr. Chin,” DePinho says, with great love and respect.

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