Pao to Lead Hematology and Oncology

September 23, 2011 | Dagny Stuart

William Pao, M.D., Ph.D.

William Pao, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Medicine and director of Personalized Cancer Medicine at Vanderbilt, has been named director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Medicine.

“Dr. Pao has demonstrated tremendous leadership and creativity since arriving at Vanderbilt,” said Nancy Brown, M.D., chair and physician-in chief of the Department of Medicine.

“Dr. Pao’s depth of experience as a translational scientist, his commitment to excellence in patient care, and his commitment to developing people and programs made him the ideal choice for this post. His work has been instrumental in the development of a robust Personalized Cancer Medicine program at Vanderbilt.”

“I am humbled by this opportunity to serve in this new leadership capacity,” said Pao. “The Division of Hematology and Oncology is filled with talented and dedicated faculty members who have established Vanderbilt’s reputation for excellence and I am looking forward to working together to enhance that reputation.”

Pao completed his undergraduate education at Harvard University and his medical and graduate education at Yale University before completing residency training at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill-Cornell School of Medicine.

As a fellow working in the laboratory of Harold Varmus, M.D., (co-recipient of a Nobel Prize for studies of the genetic basis of cancer and current director of the National Cancer Institute), Pao first identified EGF receptor mutations that convey sensitivity to gefitinib and erlotinib in lung cancers in non-smokers. This landmark work has been cited more than 1,440 times since its publication in 2004.

In 2009, Pao joined the faculty of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at Vanderbilt as an Ingram Associate Professor for Cancer Research and became the director of the VICC Personalized Cancer Medicine Initiative (PCMI).

VICC patients with melanoma, breast cancer and some forms of lung cancer routinely have their tumors tested for mutations that are sensitive to specific therapies. This commitment to matching the right patient to the right treatment at the right time is a hallmark of personalized medicine, and under Pao’s leadership the PCMI will soon be adding tests for other forms of cancer.

Pao is also the co-founder, with Mia Levy, M.D., of MyCancerGenome, an online tool to enable a genetically informed approach to cancer medicine.

“William Pao is an exceptional physician-scientist who has a passion for changing the face of oncology care through translating research discoveries to patients,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, Ph.D., director of VICC.

“He has an amazing breadth of research, clinical and interpersonal skills and has articulated a strong vision and mission for the Division of Hematology and Oncology that will enable continued success. We are fortunate to have someone with his combination of talents in a leadership position at Vanderbilt.”

Pao serves on the Institute of Medicine Committee on the Review of Omics-based Tests for Predicting Patient Outcomes in Clinical Trials. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

Brown expressed gratitude to Pietenpol, Hal Moses, M.D., director emeritus of VICC, who chaired the national search, members of the search committee and Carlos Arteaga, M.D., interim director of the Division and associate director for Clinical Research in the VICC, for his leadership, advice and support.

Pao will assume the Hematology and Oncology post effective October 5.

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