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Director of the Abramson Cancer Center: Craig Thompson
September 19, 2006, Volume 53, No. 4

Craig Thomson

Dr. Craig B. Thompson, has been named the new Director of the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania and Associate Vice President for Cancer Services of  the University of Pennsylvania Health System. The Abramson Cancer Center is one of only 39 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the U.S. and one of the top five in National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding. Last fiscal year, over 50,000 outpatient visits, 3400 inpatient admissions, 24,000 chemotherapy treatments, and more than 65,000 radiation treatments came through the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC). In his new position, Dr. Thompson will direct all clinical divisions of the ACC which include:  the Rena Rowan Breast Center; the Melanoma and Pigmented Lesion Program; the Head and Neck Cancer Program; Neuro-Oncology; Urologic Oncology; Surgical Oncology; Radiation Oncology; Gynecologic Oncology; Gastrointestinal Cancer; and hematologist cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

As Director, Dr. Thompson will oversee 300 active cancer researchers and 299 full-time Penn physicians and faculty from eight schools and 41 departments across the University involved in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. He will be responsible for $180 million in grant funding for cancer research and training, including $83.4 million in NCI funding.

His additional clinical duties will include heading the Penn Medicine Cancer Steering Committee and the Penn Cancer Network. The Abramson Cancer Center is the cornerstone of the Penn Cancer Network, which is the group of community hospitals throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey collaborating with the ACC to provide subspecialty care not usually available at most community hospitals, as well as the vast research and technological resources for patient care throughout the region.

“Dr. Thompson was selected for this position because of his reputation for excellence as a pioneer in cancer research, an exceptional educator, and above all, his career-long dedication to finding new approaches to treating and curing cancer,” said Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein, EVP of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the School of Medicine.

Dr. Thompson, earned his M.D. at Penn in  1977 and returned to Penn in 1999 as a professor of medicine, scientific director of The Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute (the basic science branch of Penn’s Cancer Center), and Penn’s first chair of the department of cancer biology. He will continue to serve in both of these positions in addition to his new appointment.

“This is a very exciting time for Penn with the construction of a proton therapy treatment facility and the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, which is to house all prevention, diagnostic, treatment, and support cancer services in a single patient-centered environment,” said Ralph M. Muller, CEO of UPHS.

Board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, Dr. Thompson has also served as Deputy Director of the Abramson Cancer Center since 1999. Last year, he was selected as a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, an honor awarded to only four cancer scientists in 2005.

Dr. Thompson currently serves as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Vice Chairman of the GM Cancer Research Prize Committee, a member of the Lasker Prize Jury, and as an Associate Editor of Cell, Science, Immunity, and Cancer Cell.  In the past, Dr. Thompson has served as the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Damon Runyon/Walter Winchell Cancer Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer  Institute, and a member of the Experimental Immunology Study Section of the National Institutes of Health.  Dr. Thompson is the holder of a number of patents related to immunotherapy and apoptosis, and is a founder of two biotechnology companies.  In addition to the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Thompson is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and the American Association of Physicians.

Dr. Thompson, has named Dr. Caryn Lerman, deputy director, and Dr. Joseph R. Carver, chief of staff. For the last five years, Dr. Lerman has served as director of the Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center at Penn and director of Cancer Control and Population Sciences in the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute. Dr. Carver has been a clinical professor of medicine since 2003. He currently serves as the senior administrative officer of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and is a member of the Division of Cardiology. He will continue to hold both of these positions while serving as the chief of staff.

Joining the Abramson Cancer Center’s new administrative team is Mr. Robert F. Wynne, who will join the Center as the director of financial and administrative affairs. In this new position, he will provide financial oversight over the combined activities of the Abramson Cancer Center and the department of cancer biology.

Almanac - September 19, 2006, Volume 53, No. 4