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Stepping down

April 29, 2022

It has been my distinct honor to serve as the director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center for the past 15 years. I recently announced that I am stepping down on June 30 to serve as the chief scientific and strategy officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and will continue to serve as Executive VUMC Vice President for Research.

It has been an extraordinary 15 years, and I am very grateful to all my exceptional colleagues at Vanderbilt-Ingram and in the community for making my vision a reality. I am excited to step into a new leadership role at VUMC and continue to advance our strategic directions and integrate research discoveries into the care of those we serve both within and beyond our ever-growing catchment area, and, most importantly, make a difference in the lives of people. I’ll be working with the entire VUMC team to keep the Medical Center at the vanguard of discovery and innovation.

I look forward to welcoming Dr. Ben Park as the new director. He currently serves as deputy director and will take the lead for the next generation of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. I am eager to watch the Cancer Center’s bright future unfold.

I am a researcher at heart. Since being recruited to Vanderbilt in 1994, I’ve advanced my own laboratory-based research program — delving into the signaling axis of the p53 tumor suppressor protein that is mutated in more than half of all human cancers, stratifying the subtypes of triple-negative breast cancer, and investigating the mechanisms of tumor suppression and epithelial cell differentiation. I plan to continue my research that catalyzes my scientific passion.

Reflecting on my time as Cancer Center director, I am proud of our accomplishments. We have doubled our research funding and increased inpatient visits in our clinics by 160%. We have had three successful renewals as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center with exceptional merit ratings. We have educated and trained hundreds of cancer clinicians and scientists. Our most significant impact, however, cannot be measured in numbers. We have improved and lengthened the lives of people diagnosed with cancer, and we have decreased the burden of this disease through prevention campaigns and community engagement.

None of the above would have been possible without the support of our donors and volunteers, who have shared their time, talents and resources with us. In addition, I want to thank our patients who have entrusted us with their care, consented to participate in clinical trials and donated precious tissue specimens. I am also grateful for those who have become advocates for advancing care. Each contribution has allowed us to reach our vision to be a recognized leader, nationally and globally, in the effort to prevent and treat cancers.

In closing, I again want to express my heartfelt appreciation for all of those who have worked alongside me at the Cancer Center — it takes teamwork and Vanderbilt-Ingram has an amazing team.

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