David R. Bickers MDCarl Truman Nelson Professor and Chair, Department of Dermatology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York, New York
David R. Bickers, MD, is the Carl Truman Nelson Professor and Chair of Dermatology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. He is a physician-scientist investigating the carcinogenic effects of skin exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation. This has led to research directed at identifying mechanism-driven strategies for managing patients with basal cell carcinomas (BCCs). Dr. Bickers has been actively involved in clinical trials employing targeted agents in a cohort of patients with Basal Cell Nevus Syndrome (BCNS) or Gorlin syndrome, a dominantly inherited disorder associated with mutations in the Sonic hedgehog signaling pathway (Shh). These studies have verified the efficacy of targeting Shh signaling in abrogating the growth of BCCs and their considerable tumor burden in BCNS patients. These studies and others led to the FDA approval of the Smoothened inhibitor, vismodegib, for the treatment of advanced surgically inoperable BCCs. Unfortunately, the clinical utility of currently available Shh inhibitors is hampered by the development of tumor resistance and substantial tumor regrowth, underscoring the belief that Shh signaling inhibition alone is insufficient for permanent eradication of BCCs. Dr. Bickers' laboratory is seeking to develop novel combinatorial treatment strategies to ultimately prevent/reduce the tumor burden in BCNS patients.