Campus forum June 13 for cancer center director candidate

June 10, 2019

Image with caption: The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

The Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center

The campus community is invited to the first candidate forum for the director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center and the Eppley Institute for Research in Cancer on Thursday, June 13.

The forum, which will run from noon to 1 p.m., in the Yanney Conference Room of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, will feature Raymond Bergan, M.D., division chief of hematology/oncology, co-leader of the translational oncology program and associate director of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University.

Following a brief presentation, titled "Leadership in cancer, opportunities for Nebraska and the world," Dr. Bergan will take part in a question-and-answer session.

Dr. Bergan is an internationally regarded cancer specialist known for leading breakthrough studies on how cancer cells spread and for developing preventive treatments for high risk patients.

After completing fellowships in medical oncology and drug discovery at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Dr. Bergan joined Northwestern University, serving as the director of experimental therapeutics and leader of the prevention program for the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. He developed and served as director of one of only five NCI-funded Early Phase Cancer Chemoprevention Programs, expanding it to 19 leading research institutions, including two in China.

Under his leadership, this program has made major findings that are beginning to transform the field. These breakthroughs include demonstrating that localized delivery of drugs allows for organ-specific targeting, maintenance of efficacy, and negation of systemic toxicity. They also include proving that the impact of preventive treatment can be measured in intact epithelium, in at risk organs, using light-based technology. This work, in turn, showed the technology's potential to measure the effectiveness of prevention therapy in real time at the individual patient level.

At Oregon Health & Science University, he played roles in expanding the division by over 50% to 103 faculty, increasing new patient referrals, increasing therapeutic trials accrual by 50%, designing two new buildings, one basic and one clinical focused, and in attaining NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center status for the first time. Along with Joe Gray, Dr. Bergan designed and implemented the SMMART (Serial Measurements of Molecular and Architectural Responses to Therapy) trials program, funded by an initial $18 million donation. This program uses specialized characterization of tumors to deliver combinations of targeted therapy tailored to the biology of each individual patient. The program is designed to change how we treat cancer and develop new treatments for cancer that last longer and allow better quality of life for patients with advanced disease.

Dr. Bergan's basic and translational research group has expanded the understanding of how early stage cancer cells transform to travel throughout the body, and how this process can be therapeutically inhibited. His group was the first to target this form of disease progression in humans. Recent work in this area by his group has been cited by WIRED magazine as a "monumental achievement."

In order to move such novel therapy into humans, Dr. Bergan co-founded Third Coast Therapeutics. Understanding the changes that enable the spread of the disease is essential to saving lives; metastasis is a leading cause of death in cancer patients.

Dr. Bergan currently serves as chair of the Cancer Prevention Committee for ECOG-ACRIN, and is a member of the NCI Cancer Prevention Steering Committee and the NCI PREVENT Program External Advisory Committee. Previously, he co-founded and co-directed the Northwestern Center for Molecular Innovation and Drug Discovery and served as a panelist for the NIH Director's Scientific Management Review Board, focusing on the task of improving how NIH improves its approach to therapeutics development.

Campus forum attendees may provide their feedback on the candidate at CCDirector@wittkieffer.com.

Additional candidate forums will be announced as campus visits are finalized.

Information also will be available on the UNMC Leadership Searches page.

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