In Memoriam: Yale Radiologist Barry Kacinski, M.D., Who Was Internationally Known for Research into Development of Malignancies

Yale School of Medicine
Tuesday, 25 November 2003

A funeral service was held Monday, November 24, for Barry Kacinski, M.D., a Yale School of Medicine radiologist who lead groundbreaking research defining the effects of growth factors and oncogenes in the development of malignancies.

Kacinski, a resident of Woodbridge, died Thursday at St. Raphael's Hospital. He was 50.

A professor in the departments of therapeutic radiology, dermatology and obstetrics and gynecology, Kacinski had an international reputation for his contributions to the field of DNA repair and to the understanding of dermatologic and gynecologic malignancies.

During his clinical career, Kacinski treated cancer patients at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Uncas on Thames Hospital, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, William W. Backus Hospital, and Lawrence and Memorial Hospital. His practice focused on the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas and gynecological malignancies.

His research centered on improving the understanding and treatment of cancer. His studies were funded by highly competitive research grants, including the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Donaghue Medical Research Foundation, and the Leukemia Society.

A native of New Haven, Kacinski earned his undergraduate degree at Yale in 1975 with a double major in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and mathematics. He received his M.D. from Yale School of Medicine in 1980, and his Ph.D. in molecular biology and biophysics the following year. He performed his internship in internal medicine and his residency in therapeutic radiology at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Kacinski joined the Yale faculty in 1983 as an instructor and lecturer in the Department of Therapeutic Radiology.

Kacinski's doctoral research focused on the repair of ultraviolet induced damage. Later, his work emphasized the relationship of events that occur during embryonic implantation. Kacinski's laboratory developed techniques for studying specific growth factor receptors in ovarian and endometrial tumors and showed that expression of certain activated forms of the receptors correlate with metastasis-free survival in breast cancer patients.

His lab also identified two specific pathways by which the receptors regulated the metastatic potential and local invasiveness of cancer cells. Kacinski's group showed that the latter pathway also modulated cellular responses to such DNA damaging agents as ionizing radiation. More recently, he studied drug development and gene therapy protocols that might target these pathways and attack cancer cells without injuring healthy tissues. He also investigated the mechanisms by which steroids alter the expression on the CSF-1 receptor.

His work initiated development of a novel organ culture system, growing both normal and neoplastic breast and ovarian tissue. His group uses these new tools to study the effects of hormone and hormone antagonists on the development of breast and ovarian carcinoma and to analyze the response of these cancers to hormones, anti-hormones, anticancer drugs and radiation.

In addition to his research and clinical activities, Kacinski was active in the educational activities of the Department of Therapeutic Radiology and at the medical school. He taught in programs for graduate students, medical students, and postdoctoral fellows and residents. He served for eight years on the Admissions Committee for the MD/PhD program at the medical school, and for 10 years as chair of the Thesis Committee for the Department of Therapeutic Radiology. He served the research community as a member of several national peer review panels and expert advisory boards.

Kacinski received numerous awards, among them a National Merit Scholarship, membership in Phi Beta Kappa, an Agrall and Anna Hull Cancer Research Award, a Swebilius research award, and an award for Distinguished Leadership in Oncology, given by the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas.

He leaves his mother, Stella Kacinski of Seymour, and a son, Daniel Kacinski of Woodbridge.

The funeral service was Monday at St. Augustine Church in Seymour. Memorial donations may be made to the Barry Kacinski Fund in care of the Bennett Funeral Home, 91 N. Cliff St., Ansonia, Conn. 06401.

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