Dr. Jeffrey Toretsky received his MD in 1988 from the University of Minnesota. He completed his pediatric residency at the Medical College of Virginia in 1991, and his pediatric oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute Pediatric Branch in 1997. In 2002, Dr. Toretsky was recruited from the University of Maryland to Georgetown University; where he was promoted to full professor with tenure in 2011. He was inducted into the American Society of Clinical Investigation in 2007 and received the Burroughs-Wellcome Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research in 2008. He is a co-founder of Tokalas, Inc. (2014), now Oncternal Therapeutics, Inc. In 2018, Dr. Toretsky was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors.
Dr. Toretsky actively pursues research that will lead to new and more specific therapies for a very rare cancer, Ewing sarcoma. His work focuses on Ewing sarcoma, since the tumors contain a unique target that is not found in non-tumor cells. This unique target offers an opportunity to create new medicines that will more specifically eliminate tumor growth while sparing normal cells. In 2009, Dr. Toretsky and his team revealed the molecule called YK-4-279 that targets Ewing sarcoma with an article in Nature Medicine. YK-4-279 has the potential to be a potent new strategy in the fight against not only Ewing sarcoma, but also other cancers and diseases with similar characteristics. A deeper investigation into the mechanism of YK-4-279 has led Dr. Toretsky into the world of phase separation and soft matter. He is particularly interested in understanding how protein complexes he called ‘assemblages’, now also referred to as biomolecular condensates, occur and how they function in oncogenic RNA processing.
Dr. Toretsky is now the Division Chief of Pediatric Adolescent and Young Adult Hematology/Oncology at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital. He continues to be the principal investigator of his NIH-funded laboratory group, leads the Molecular Oncology Program of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and co-leads a multidisciplinary sarcoma clinic at Children’s National Medical Center. He enjoys teaching science and medicine from high school through medical as well as graduate school. His wife, three children, dogs (Lucy and Greta), a passion for SCUBA diving and a clarinet support him in these endeavors.