Sarah Thayer, M.D., Ph.D., joins Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations

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Sarah Thayer, M.D., Ph.D. 

Sarah Thayer, M.D., Ph.D., an internationally recognized physician-scientist from Harvard Medical School, will be joining UNMC to lead cancer surgery efforts and have a significant leadership role in the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Dr. Thayer will start May 1 as associate director for clinical affairs and physician-in-chief for the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. She also has been appointed Merle M. Musselman Centennial Professor of Surgery and chief of surgical oncology at UNMC.

“This is a prominent example that the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center will attract the brightest minds in cancer care and research who will look to take advantage of our world-class infrastructure and collaborate with what is already an outstanding team,” said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to realize what the very best of cancer care can be,” Dr. Thayer said. “I’m extraordinarily excited and honored to be part of this innovative cancer center and to be working with the wonderful intellectual powerhouse that already exists. There’s a great synergy between clinical care and scientific progress that works really well at UNMC – and we believe that translation between the two is where our next inventions and innovations in patient care will come from.”

Dr. Thayer comes to UNMC following a 13-year stint at Harvard Medical School and its teaching hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital. She has served as the W. Gerald Austen Scholar in Academic Surgery since 2002 and as director of the pancreatic cancer biology lab since 2008.

She has been continuously funded since 2003 and has been part of five National Institutes of Health research grants, three as overall principal investigator. Dr. Thayer currently has a $2 million pancreatic cancer research project funded by the NIH’s National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Thayer is an active surgeon with a clinical and research focus on pancreatic cancer. Clinically, she also specializes in cancers of the breast and gastrointestinal system.

Dr. Thayer arrived on the national scene with a 2003 publication in the journal Nature in which her work revealed the role of a developmental gene (Shh) as an early initiator in pancreatic cancer. Later, her group was the first to categorize and classify three distinct forms of pancreatic ductal lesions and their role in regeneration and cancer. In 2010, her team identified a novel ductal compartment and named them “pancreatic duct glands.”

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