October 6, 2011

Message from the Vice Chancellor: Matrisian Accepts New Role at Cancer Advocacy Organization

Dear Colleagues,

Lynn Matrisian, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and Ingram Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research, will leave Vanderbilt at the end of December to accept the newly-created position of vice president of Research and Medical Affairs at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, based in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Harold L. “Hal” Moses, M.D., former director of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, will serve as the department’s acting chair beginning Jan. 1, 2012. Plans to identify a permanent leader will be forthcoming.

Lynn began her career here in 1986 as an assistant professor of Cell Biology. She was recently recognized for 25 years of distinguished service to Vanderbilt.

In 2000, she became the founding chair of the newly-created Department of Cancer Biology. During her tenure, the department has grown to include 13 faculty whose research has been well funded by the NIH and other agencies, and published broadly in high-impact journals.

In addition to her administrative leadership, Lynn’s contributions to Vanderbilt and to the field of cancer research have been significant. She oversees a highly productive research laboratory and has trained 15 graduate students and 24 postdoctoral fellows.

She has been a prolific researcher with nearly 250 published papers in scientific journals. She recently held a leadership post as a Special Assistant to the National Cancer Institute director, developing ways to make national translational cancer research efforts more efficient. She is also a past-president of the American Association of Cancer Research.

Lynn has contributed greatly to the success of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, serving in a variety of key roles such as associate director for Cancer Education and as a leader of the Host-Tumor Interactions Program.

Founded in 1999, the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is a nonprofit patient-based advocacy organization fighting pancreatic cancer through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer has remained below 6 percent for more than 40 years.

Since 2003, the organization has funded more than $10 million in research grants to scientists who are studying the biology of the disease, its causes and potential treatment options to improve patient survival. As foundations will play an increasingly instrumental role in translational research, Lynn sees this leadership opportunity at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network as a next step in a long and distinguished career spent on the front lines in the battle against cancer.

Please join me in wishing Lynn well as she begins her new role with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
Dean, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine