Influx of New Directors Is Opportunity to Sharpen Focus on Research, Care

Since AACI’s 2016 annual meeting, about two dozen new directors have taken on top leadership roles at AACI cancer centers. At its 2017 annual meeting in Washington, DC, AACI welcomed many of those new leaders at a breakfast on October 16.

AACI President Stanton Gerson, MD, told the new directors to utilize the programs, initiatives and meetings hosted by AACI as they transition into their new jobs. For example, AACI could be a resource for populating a cancer center’s external advisory board.

AACI President-Elect Roy Jensen, MD, concurred, telling the directors that AACI is a good group to bounce ideas off of, and the Association provides many forums for exchanging ideas.

As reported in the October 20 issue of The Cancer Letter, Robert Ferris, MD, the new director of the University of Pittsburgh UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, said that one reason for the turnover could be that a lot of directors “had been in place for a long time and they wanted to retire”. However, the changing nature of the job—greater responsibility for treating expanding patient populations, for example—may have been more of a factor in the shifting leadership, he said.

Another new cancer center leader, Eric Fearon, MD, PhD, director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, told The Cancer Letter: “Based in part on the tremendous pace of recent progress in the cancer field and the promise for further major advances, I think it is an amazing time to serve as a cancer center director.”

AACI Executive Director Barbara Duffy Stewart, MPH, said that having so many new cancer center leaders will yield fresh perspectives on the association’s mission to help centers keep pace with the changing landscape in science, technology and health care.

According to Dr. Gerson, the unprecedented influx of new directors “is an opportunity to renew our focus and commitment to advancing our shared mission. The cancer centers represent the major national effort against cancer, combining research, clinical care, training and community outreach."