About Dr. Carbone
Dr. Carbone is board-certified in anatomic pathology in both Italy in the United States. Recognized for his groundbreaking research in cancer genetics, he specializes in mesothelioma research and pleural pathology. He holds an honorary Knight of the Republic of Italy title because of his notable contributions to science and medicine.
In addition to his innovative genomic research, Dr. Carbone is an accomplished oncologist who teaches at two medical hospitals in Hawaii. He attributes his successful career to a “combination of hard work, good luck, and great collaborations with friends and colleagues.”
As a self-proclaimed food lover who enjoys cooking, he has used his prowess in the kitchen as a fundraising tool to generate more than $25 million in cancer research funding.
Dr. Carbone is fluent in English, Italian, and Spanish.
Dr. Carbone’s Career Highlights
- Discovered a gene and protein that leads to mesothelioma being passed through families
- Recipient of the Pioneer Award from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation)
- Former director of the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, which he transformed into an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center
Dr. Carbone’s Background
Dr. Michele Carbone was born in Rome, Italy, where he received his medical degree and a philosophy doctorate in human pathology from Sapienza Università di Roma. He completed his residency in anatomic pathology in 1986 and was board-certified in Rome in 1988.
Over the next decade, he worked as a scientist and professor at:
- Sapienza Università
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- University of Chicago
While teaching at the University of Chicago, Dr. Carbone also studied as a resident and earned his U.S. board certification in anatomic pathology in 1998. He later worked at Loyola University in Chicago for several years, eventually becoming the director of the thoracic oncology program in 2005.
In 2006, Dr. Carbone moved to Honolulu and became the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center’s director of thoracic oncology. He also joined the faculty of the molecular biosciences division and became a professor in the department of pathology at John A. Burns School of Medicine.
From 2008 to 2014, Dr. Carbone served as the director of the entire University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, transforming the center from a struggling facility into a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive care center.
Dr. Carbone’s Career Accomplishments
Most of Dr. Carbone’s career has been dedicated to researching and understanding mesothelioma.
For 14 years, he studied a mesothelioma epidemic that occurred in Cappadocia, Turkey, researching his hypothesis that a person’s genetics could make them more susceptible to mesothelioma.
He accurately believed that certain familial genetic mutations increase the likelihood that a patient will develop mesothelioma if exposed to carcinogenic mineral fibers, such as asbestos.
Dr. Carbone and his colleague, Dr. Haining Yang, ultimately discovered the mesothelioma gene, BAP1, which can mutate and cause epidemics of mesothelioma in specific families. After discovering the BAP1 gene, Dr. Carbone and Dr. Yang identified the protein HMBG1 as the protein that allows mesothelioma to grow.
These significant genetic discoveries are a significant step toward an eventual cure for mesothelioma. Dr. Carbone received the Meso Foundation’s prestigious Pioneer Award in recognition of this work.
“My focus is on finding a cure for cancer.”
—Dr. Michele Carbone
He has since identified additional sources of potential carcinogens and helped create the “International Conference on Mesothelioma in Populations Exposed to Naturally Occurring Asbestiform Fibers” to help the nation better understand and eliminate the use of these carcinogens.
Dr. Carbone has been recognized throughout the world for his significant contributions to mesothelioma research. He has presented a lecture at MD Anderson Cancer Center’s highly prestigious Grand Rounds, has served as a keynote speaker, spoken at countless events, and has personally hosted mesothelioma symposiums.
Awards & Honors
- INNOVATOR Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research, Landon Foundation
- Knight of the Republic of Italy (Cavaliere della Repubblica)
- National Institutes of Health Fogarty Fellowship
- Pioneer Award, Meso Foundation
Dr. Carbone’s Current Work
Dr. Michele Carbone is currently the director of thoracic oncology at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center in Honolulu.
As a member of the cancer biology program, he serves as a research professor at the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center and as a professor in the Department of Pathology at John A. Burns School of Medicine.
His primary focus is on cancer research, where he examines genetics and pathology in hopes of finding a cure for mesothelioma and other forms of cancer.
He is also a consulting reviewer for scientific journals, including:
- American Journal of Pathology
- International Journal of Cancer
- Journal of Cellular Biochemistry
Dr. Carbone is a member of several professional organizations, including:
- Mesothelioma Task Force, International Association to Study Lung Cancer (IASLC) (Chair)
- Consulate of Italy in San Francisco for the State of Hawaii (Medical Officer)
- American Association for Cancer Research (Member)
- American Society for Investigative Pathology (Member)
- European Academy of Tumor Immunology (EATI) (Member)
- Academia Cosentina, Italy (Member)
Notable Work by Dr. Carbone
In a groundbreaking article published in Nature Genetics, Dr. Carbone and his colleagues outlined the results of their innovative research into the genetic mutation that predisposes specific family groups to mesothelioma.
Families who have the gene BAP1 and are exposed to environmental carcinogens are significantly more likely to get mesothelioma and melanoma than those who don’t have the gene.
The impact of the BAP1 genetic mutation was particularly apparent in Cappadocia, Turkey, where Dr. Carbone had first observed mesothelioma epidemics wiping out entire family groups at a time.
This extraordinarily influential piece of research has since been cited in more than 1,000 scholarly articles, helping shape the entire world’s understanding of mesothelioma genetics. The discovery also led to Dr. Carbone receiving the “Pioneer Award” from the Meso Foundation for his extensive contributions to the field of mesothelioma research.
Additionally, in January 2023, Dr. Carbone and a team of other researchers published a study that has the potential to enhance targeted mesothelioma therapy. He and the team discovered that when only one copy of the BAP1 gene is present, the HIF1 protein is absent, which makes it more difficult for mesothelioma tumor cells to thrive in a low-oxygen environment.
Based on these findings, targeting BAP1 activity may make mesothelioma more responsive to therapy and improve survival rates.
“Two clinical trials have been opened at the National Cancer Institute Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, to treat and study affected individuals in these [BAP1] families.
We hope findings from this study may enable clinicians to offer their patients more targeted treatment options faster.”
—Dr. Michele Carbone
Dr. Carbone’s Healing Philosophy
Dr. Carbone is an advocate for multidisciplinary collaborative team research, crediting the approach for his research success. His studies combine fieldwork, laboratory research, and collaborations with scientists from numerous countries.
He has examined mesothelioma through the lens of disciplines, like:
- Molecular biology
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