Rocco Carbone, MS, has never been one to turn down a challenge in his career, so when he was asked to head up a Cell Processing Lab as part of the Clinical Trial Support Services (CTSS) core at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, he jumped at the chance. Mr. Carbone assists in the collection of biospecimens from patients from cancer clinical trials. He then performs whatever task is required for the particular protocol. This may include shipping the sample out to an analytical lab or to the study’s sponsor, isolating subpopulations of cells, or saving and banking the specimen for future use. Biopsies are often collected to examine genetic markers, which help the physicians determine the best treatment.
Previously having worked in a cytometry lab at Yale, Mr. Carbone is no stranger to analyzing DNA or cell surface markers and working in the lab. Two years ago he celebrated his 25th anniversary with Yale and has been in his current position now for 3 years. When a new protocol is proposed, he meets with the Principal Investigator and sponsor company of the trial in order to fully understand what they want from the protocol and from his lab.
Most of the drugs in these clinical trials are experimental. The basic research has been done, some of the safety profiles have been completed, and now researchers need to know how the drug acts once it is in the body. It is Mr. Carbone’s job, with the help of Cindy Gianpaolo-Ostravage, a very skilled assistant, to collect samples which will be analyzed in other laboratories, both within and outside Yale, to determine how long and at what levels a drug remains in the body, and into which other molecules the drug is transformed.
“It is rewarding to know that we are indirectly helping patients and advancing clinical trial knowledge, which is so important. This role also allows us to stay up to date on all the clinical trials that are going on at Yale Cancer Center. The lab continues to grow as more and more clinical trials are being introduced, and that’s a wonderful thing to see, especially knowing that I had a hand in transferring a potential cancer drug from the basic research lab into the clinic,” explained Mr. Carbone.
Mr. Carbone was able to get the Cell Processing lab up and running before the first patient was seen at Smilow Cancer Hospital, which was no small feat. He was tasked with starting the lab basically from scratch and has watched it expand. Rocco’s supervisor, Dr. Lyndsay Harris, commented, “Quiet and unassuming, Rocco nonetheless stands out for his technical prowess and unvarnished devotion to scientific discovery. Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital owe a great deal to the stellar performance of Rocco Carbone.”