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Renowned Lung Cancer Specialist Joins the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute as Part of Outstanding Leadership Team 

The Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute is announcing appointments of a new deputy director, chief of hematology and medical oncology, an associate director for clinical operations, and a director of clinical research to its already outstanding senior leadership team.

Alan B. Sandler, M.D., a nationally renowned lung cancer specialist, is joining the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute as the chief of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology and will be appointed as the DeArmond Chair for Cancer Research.

“To have one of the top lung cancer experts in the country is an essential part of the Knight Cancer Institute’s mission to ensure that no patient has to leave our region for expert care,” said institute director Brian Druker, M.D. 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in Oregon and the United States, with the number of men and women dying of lung cancer exceeding the number of people dying from the next three most common cancers - breast, prostate and colon - combined. In addition, physicians are seeing more lung cancer in people who never smoked. 

Sandler is currently the medical director of thoracic oncology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He is the co-director of the Center for Management Research in Healthcare at Vanderbilt University and the medical director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Comprehensive Cancer Center Affiliate Network. He formerly served as co-chair of the Thoracic Committee of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group. He received his medical degree at Rush Medical College in Chicago, and completed his residency and medical oncology fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. Sandler will join OHSU in March. 

Also joining the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is David M. Dilts, Ph.D., M.B.A., as the director of clinical research. Dilts has been leading national efforts to streamline clinical trials and his role in the Knight will be to transform the operations of The Knight such that it is known and acknowledged as the “best in the world” in designing, fostering and managing cancer clinical trials.

Dilts is currently the founding director of the Engineering Management Program and co-director of the Center for Management Research in Health Care at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He completed both his Ph.D. and his M.B.A. at the University of Oregon, Graduate School of Management, in Eugene, Ore. Dilts will join the institute in February.

Prior to joining the Owen in 1999, Dilts served for 14 years as a professor of management sciences, faculty of engineering, and a professor in optometry, faculty of science, at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Previous to that he served as an assistant professor of operations management at Michigan State University.

Tom Beer, M.D., the internationally renowned director of the OHSU Prostate Cancer Research Program, has been appointed deputy director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. In the deputy director’s role, Beer will assist the director in carrying out the mission and vision of the institute.

Specifically, Beer will oversee and coordinate the development of the clinical and clinical research programs both within OHSU and statewide. He will be responsible for the development of the strategic and operational plans and their implementation, as well as resource allocation within the clinical and clinical research enterprise and statewide network.

“Part of the funding for these positions comes from the recent $100 million gift from Philip and Penny Knight as well as support from the Hedinger Family Foundation. These funds allow us not only to recruit but also to retain our best and brightest. Tom Beer’s promotion was not only essential to move our cancer programs forward but is also further recognition of Dr. Beer’s accomplishments and the excellence that is already present at our institution,” Druker said. “The combination of Dr. Beer with the recent recruitment of Dr. Chris Amling, a nationally renowned prostate cancer surgeon, as chief of the Division of Urology, further establishes our prostate cancer program as one of the best in the entire country,” added Druker.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, with American Cancer Society estimating 186,320 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2008. As one of the premier prostate cancer researchers and clinicians in the country, Beer will continue to serve our region as the Grover C. Bagby Chair for Prostate Cancer Research, associate professor of medicine (hematology/medical oncology). He is a member of the American College of Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Association for Cancer Research and Southwest Oncology Group. He has also authored and co-authored more than 150 articles and abstracts on prostate cancer, and is actively investigating a broad range of new treatments for prostate cancer. Beer received his medical degree at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore, Md., and served his residency and medical oncology fellowship at OHSU School of Medicine.  

Neil Swanson, M.D., is the new associate director for clinical operations for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, and he will remain as the chairman of the OHSU Department of Dermatology. He brings a wealth of experience with 10 years of leadership in the University Medical Group, most recently as president. Swanson is an international lecturer, author and clinical expert regarding the detection and treatment of skin cancer. He has authored more than a hundred journal articles, authored or edited multiple textbooks, and contributed chapters to numerous textbooks. 

“There is nobody at our institution that has more experience in running an efficient, service-oriented academic, clinical enterprise and we are extremely fortunate to add his expertise to our team”, said Druker.

These appointments add to the already outstanding nationally prominent senior leadership team that includes Brian Druker, director, investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research and National Academy of Science member; Charles Thomas, M.D., chief of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Kevin Billingsley, M.D., the Hedinger associate professor and chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology and chairman of the OHSU Cancer Committee Surgical Oncology; Patricia Carney, Ph.D., associate director for Population Studies; Lisa Domenico, M.B.A., has been appointed associate director of Regional Cancer Control Strategies; and H. Stacy Nicholson, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., Credit Union for Kids Professor and Chairman of Pediatrics, OHSU School of Medicine, Physician-in-Chief, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

About the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center between Sacramento and Seattle. It comprises some 200 clinical researchers, basic scientists and population scientists who work together to translate scientific discoveries into longer and better lives for Oregon's cancer patients. In the lab, basic scientists examine cancer cells and normal cells to uncover molecular abnormalities that cause the disease. This basic science informs more than 300 clinical trials conducted at the OHSU Cancer Institute.

About OHSU

Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government), with 12,400 employees. OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.

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