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Internationally renowned scientist Gordon B. Mills recruited to lead precision oncology for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

One of the most highly cited medical scientists in the world, Mills brings a breadth of research, leadership experience to OHSU
man in a suit, looking at camera.
Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., director of precision oncology for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and a professor in the OHSU School of Medicine. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., has authored or co-authored nearly 900 published research papers, been referenced more than 70,000 times in peer-reviewed research studies, and is among the top 1 percent of all authors in medicine. Today, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute announced he will lead the institute’s efforts in precision oncology.

Mills was recruited to OHSU from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he has been an esteemed clinical and research leader since 1994. As a professor in medicine, immunology and tumor biology, he oversaw the center’s breast and ovarian cancer Moonshot programs. During his tenure, he also founded the first cancer systems biology department in the U.S. 

“Gordon Mills is a world leader in cancer research,” said Brian Druker, M.D., director of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “He is one of the most credentialed, highly revered scientists in the field of oncology. Gordon understands that precision medicine is about finding what works for the individual patient and I have the utmost confidence that his vision will lift our institute to new heights in our goal to end cancer as we know it.”

two men walking down a hallway, briefcases in hand, chatting with one another.
OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Director Brian Druker, M.D. (left) talks with Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., director of precision oncology for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and a professor in the OHSU School of Medicine. (OHSU/Kristyna Wentz-Graff)

Mills’ research focuses on the genomics and genetics of breast and ovarian cancers, and identifying and characterizing a number of potential tumor suppressor genes. He holds more than 20 patents in novel technologies and molecular biomarkers, including a protein assay originally used in the Cancer Genome Atlas — a project designed to catalog genetic mutations responsible for cancer — which now is used worldwide to analyze individual patient data.

Mills says his role as the director of precision oncology for the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and a professor of medicine (hematology/oncology) in the OHSU School of Medicine will be to provide an “integrative force” across various efforts in progress at the institute, including the Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research (CEDAR) Center, immuno-oncology and the system biology groups.

“We are at an inflection point where we are changing the whole outcome for cancer patients,” said Mills. “The idea of being able to focus in on this key critical question of what makes each person's cancer different, and having the team that is dedicated to putting that in place was what drew me to the Knight Cancer Institute and OHSU.”

Another key area of responsibility for Mills will be the recruitment and mentorship of young scientists. He says: “I will be the adviser. I'll be the cheerleader. I'll be the person who gives a little kick when they need it.”

A recognized collaborator, Mills has held leadership roles and earned awards from a variety of nationally recognized cancer organizations, including the American Association for Cancer Research, Stand Up 2 Cancer, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Association of American Physicians.

Mills will begin transitioning his program and efforts to the Knight Cancer Institute over the next several months, relocating approximately 15 members of his lab over the next year. Their transition is expected to be complete by July 2018.

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