Alumni Spotlight: Anthony John Iafrate M.D. /Ph.D. ’00
A Stony Brook School of Medicine Alumni Board Initiative
Highlighting Prominent Alumni to Enrich and Inspire Students Today.
Presented by: Jheison Giraldo, MD Candidate Class of 2021
It is with great pleasure and pride that the Stony Brook School of Medicine Alumni board student representatives introduce Dr. Anthony John Iafrate for this month’s “Alumni Spotlight” feature. Dr. Iafrate has led a successful career as a physician scientist, and we hope that his advice and story will inspire current students to reach for success.
Dr. Iafrate graduated from Stony Brook University in 2000 after eight great years of education. He completed his PhD in molecular microbiology, and when asked what his fondest memory of Stony Brook School of Medicine was, he immediately mentioned anatomy. Dr. Iafrate remembered the incredible teaching staff and how close he became with his anatomy group. These were the things that helped him get through a course that he found overwhelming. Despite disliking anatomy class dissections, Dr. Iafrate performed over 100 autopsies during his pathology residency. He attributed this radical change in career preference to a particular principle he has always held and which is now the advice that he gives medical students “Don’t listen to others expectations of what specialty you should be, and make sure that you step back and think about what will fulfill your needs as a physician.” Dr. Iafrate’s need was to be able to do research and clinical work that would simultaneously help his patients. This has shaped his career in many ways.
Dr. Iafrate is a Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, and the Director of the Center for Integrated Diagnostics (CID), a clinical laboratory for molecular diagnostics at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The CID provides rapid personalized genomic testing to help inform cancer treatment options for patients. Dr. Iafrate was trained in anatomic and molecular genetic pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and has been on staff at MGH since 2005. During his post-doctoral work, he identified and defined a novel source of human genetic diversity, termed “copy number variation” (CNV). He established a cancer diagnostics lab focusing on genetic fingerprints that help guide novel, targeted therapies. His laboratory launched SNaPshot several years ago, an assay that tests over 100 of the most common mutations in tumors, and has continued to develop next generation sequencing assays. Today, his research is focused on lung and brain tumors, where he has been closely involved in the clinical development of crizotinib and companion diagnostics in ALK- and ROS1 positive lung cancers. His lab has developed several technologies for sequencing tumors, including SNaPshot and the next-generation sequencing-based Anchored Multiplex PCR, both techniques have been widely used in the molecular diagnostics community.
Dr. Iafrate has had an inspiring career, we hope by sharing the stories of recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award you will be inspired to continue the Stony Brook Medicine tradition of excellence.