Jose Costa, MD, FACP

  • Professor of Pathology and of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation
  • DIrector, Autopsy Service
  • Director, Bone & Soft Tissue Pathology

Jose Costa, M.D., is Professor of Pathology and Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine. A graduate of Barcelona Medical School, Dr. Costa trained in Anatomical Pathology at Colorado University (G.B. Pierce) and Washington University (P. Lacy; L.V. Ackerman). He went on to do research as a Fogarty International Fellow (1973) in the laboratory of A.S. Rabson at NCI, were he stayed to eventually become the Anatomical Pathology Branch Chief at the Clinical Center, NIH Bethesda, MD. Elected to a Chair in Pathology at the University of Lausanne (1982), he directed between 1983 and 1993 the Institut Universitaire de Patologie, developing a program of advanced diagnostics and collaborating both with the ISREC and the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute.

Dr. Costa joined the Yale Faculty in 1993 as Vice Chairman of Pathology and from 1995 until January 2007, he also served as Deputy Director of the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center. Since 1998 he has been a member of the NCI's Early Detection Research Network. His laboratory investigates the micro-evolutionary dynamics involved in tumor formation and tumor progression using both experimental and theoretical modeling at the systems level. This work has identified novel and promising ways to detect early cancer and ways to follow the changes in tumors under therapy. In July, 2007, he assumed the direction of the Translational Diagnostics Program and the Musculoskeletal Program in the Department of Pathology at Yale.

Dr. Costa remains an Emeritus Professor at the University of Lausanne, received the Trueta Medal for Sanitary Merit of the Catalan Government in 2002, and was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences in 2003 for his work on tumor cell heterogeneity. He has served on numerous national and international committees and Scientific Advisory Boards, and has been Editor in Chief of Pathology Research and Practice and Laboratory Investigation. He presently serves as a member of the Consulting Team for the NCI’s Early Detection Research Network and also of the Scientific Advisory Board for the National Cancer Research Institute in Madrid (Spain). He has contributed over 160 original publications to the technical literature.

Research interests
Bone Neoplasms; Medical Oncology; Musculoskeletal Diseases; Orthopedics; Pathology; Molecular Diagnostic Techniques; Translational Medical Research
Research summary

I am interested in understanding the forces driving tumor formation and tumor progression. Using clues from clinical observation, experimental models and in silico simulations, I formulate hypotheses that can then be tested either in the laboratory or in the clinic. For example, the theory that carcinogenesis is a micro-evolutionary process best described by metapopulation dynamics provides a framework for understanding the origins of tumor heterogeneity and explains the reason for the long term failures of some therapies. It also demonstrates how intermediate disturbance can favor the emergence and progression of tumors without significant increase in mutational rate. Theory also suggests that inhibiting the so-called capacitors of evolution may be a useful intervention to increase the therapeutic effect of some of the anticancer agents used in the clinic.

Specialized Terms: Oncology; Carcinogenesis; Tumor development and progression; Advanced diagnostics; Molecular diagnostics; Diagnosed genetic alterations in tumors; Cancer risk detection by mutational load distribution analysis

  • MD, University of Barcelona, 1967
  • Costa, J., Gonzalez-Garcia, I., and Sole, R. (2006). Spatial Dynamics in Cancer, in Complex Systems Science in Biomedicine (Deisboeck, T.S., and Kresh, J.Y.), Chapter 6.2, pp. 557-572.
  • Lage, J.M., et al. (2003). Whole genome analysis of genetic alterations in small DNA samples using hyperbranched strand displacement amplification and array-CGH. Genome Res. 13:294-307.
  • Tallini G, Ghossein RA, Emanuel J, Gill J, Kinder B, Dimich AB, Costa J, Robbins R, Burrow GN, Rosai J. (1998) Detection of thyroglobulin, thyroid peroxidase, and RET/PTC1 mRNA transcripts in the peripheral blood of patients with thyroid disease. Journal of Clinical Pathology, Vol 16(3): 1158-1166.
  • Dillon DA, Howe CL, Bosari S, Costa J. (1998) The molecular biology of breast cancer: Accelerating clinical applications. Critical Reviews in Oncogenesis. 9(2): 125-140.
  • Bautista D, Obrador A, Moreno V, Cabeza E, Canet R, Benito E, Bosch X, Costa JC. (1997) Ki-ras mutation modifies the protective effect of dietary monounsaturated fat and calcium on sporadic colorectal cancer. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention 6: 57-61.
  • Pinto MM, Emanuel JR, Chaturvedi V, Costa JC. (1997) Ki-ras mutations and the carcinoembryonic antigen level in fine needle aspirates of the pancreas. Acta Cytologica, 41 (2): 427-434.
  • Fazeli A, Steen RG, Dickinson SL, Bautista D, Dietrich WF, Bronson RT, Bresalier RS, Lander Es, Costa JC, Weinberg RA. (1997) p53, apoptosis and colon cancer, PNAS.
  • Guillou L, Coindre J.M, Bonichon F, Biu NB, Terrier P, Collin F, Vilain M.O, Mandard A.M, ld Doussal V, Leroux A, Jacquemier J, Duplay H, Sastre X, Costa J.C. (1997) A comparative study of the NCI and FNCLLL grading systems in a population of 410 adult patients with a soft tissue sarcoma. J Clinical Oncology 15: 350-362.
International activities
  • Colon cancer research
    France (2008-Present)
    Dr. Costa is engaged in a joint study of transgenic mice developing colon cancer.

    Inst Curie, Inst Curie

  • Liver Cancer Detection
    Spain (2008-Present)
    Dr. Costa collaborates with the Liver Unit at the Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, centered on the early detection of liver cancer related to hepatitis C.

    Hospital Clinic I Provincial, Hospital Clinic I Provincial

  • Tumor Biology
    Spain (2008-Present)
    Dr. Costa collaborates with a colleague at Universitat Pompeu i Fabra, Barcelona. His work involves In Silico Modeling of tumor biology.

    Univ Pompeu Fabra, Univ Pompeu Fabra

  • Oncology
    Spain (2007-Present)
    Dr. Costa is a member of the Board of Directors of Institut Catala d'Oncologia and provides input in strategic planning and recruitment of senior leadership as well as facilitating the exchange of students.

    Institut Catala d'Oncológia, Institut Catala d'Oncológia

  • Oncology
    Spain (2003-Present)
    Dr. Costa is a member of the SAB of Centro Nacional Investigaciones Oncológicas (Madrid). In that capacity, he provides input on strategic planning and recruitment of senior leadership and facilitates exchange of students.

    Centro Nacional Investigaciones Oncologicas, Centro Nacional Investigaciones Oncologicas

  • Tumor research
    Switzerland (2003-Present)
    Dr. Costa is involved in a collaboration with Professor Bossman, Institut de Pathologie, Lausanne for the study of micro-diversity in tumors.

    Inst de Pathologie, Inst de Pathologie

Catalan, French, German, Spanish