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SWOG Leadership

Members of SWOG (formerly the Southwest Oncology Group) are top medical researchers at institutions across the United States. In addition to SWOG Chair Charles D. Blanke, M.D., the Group leadership includes:

SWOG Deputy Chair and Vice Chair of NCTN Research
Anne F. Schott, M.D.
SWOG Vice-Chair for Translational Medicine
Lee M. Ellis, M.D.
SWOG Vice Chair of the NCORP Research Program (NCORP)
Dawn Hershman, M.D., M.S.
SWOG Statistician
Michael LeBlanc, Ph.D.
SWOG Executive Officers

SWOG Chair Charles D. Blanke, M.D.

Charles D. Blanke, M.D. Charles D. Blanke, M.D., is chair of SWOG, overseeing the science, statistics, data management and operations of the network. On April 14, 2012, at the group's spring meeting in San Francisco, SWOG's board of governors selected Blanke to be the group's next chair. After serving as chair-elect for one year, Blanke became SWOG chair on May 1, 2013, and transferred the group chair's office to the Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

Blanke is a professor of medicine at the Knight Cancer Institute at OHSU. He previously served as vice president of systemic therapy for the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, and as professor and chief of medical oncology at the University of British Columbia. A member of SWOG since 1999, he served as chair of the group's Gastrointestinal Committee from 2003 to 2013. He also chairs the Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor (GIST) Task Force for the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Gastrointestinal Steering Committee.

Blanke has a particular interest in pathway-driven oncology research, having been instrumental in the development of imatinib mesylate for use in patients with locally advanced and metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumors.

Blanke earned an M.D. with distinction from Northwestern University, completed residency training at the Gundersen Medical Foundation, where he served as chief resident, and was a hematology/medical oncology fellow at Indiana University, where he also served as chief fellow. He has also served on the faculty of Vanderbilt University.

Blanke is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

SWOG Deputy Chair and Vice Chair of National Cancer Trials Network (NCTN) Research Anne F. Schott, M.D.

Dr. SchottAnne F. Schott, M.D., is deputy chair and vice chair of National Cancer Trials Network (NCTN) research at SWOG. Schott is a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. A medical oncologist with a clinical emphasis on breast cancer, her research interests include therapeutic clinical trials in breast cancer and the integration of medical imaging into clinical trials and clinical care.

The varied, complementary roles she has held within SWOG have given Schott insight into cooperative group research and operations from multiple perspectives. As deputy chair, she provides both historical perspective on SWOG's past and keen insight into the effective restructuring of SWOG as part of the new NCTN.

From 2005 to 2013, Schott served as an executive officer of SWOG, with oversight of breast, lung, and gynecologic cancers. She also served for a time as principal investigator for the University of Michigan's membership within SWOG.

She is a member of SWOG's Board of Governors, Breast Cancer Committee, Breast Translational Medicine Subcommittee, Lung Committee, and Imaging Committee. She also serves as Chair of the board of The Hope Foundation and is founding medical director of the highly successful SWOG-Clinical Trials Initiative (SWOG-CTI).

After receiving her M.D. from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Schott moved to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to complete a residency in internal medicine. She came to the University of Michigan through the medical oncology fellowship program in 1993 and joined the faculty in 1996.

SWOG Vice Chair for Translational Medicine Lee M. Ellis, M.D.

Lee Ellis, M.D. Lee M. Ellis, M.D., is SWOG vice chair for translational medicine (TM), overseeing SWOG's basic and translational medicine research, including biomarker driven trials.

A professor of surgical oncology and molecular and cellular oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, Ellis works with SWOG Chair Dr. Charles Blanke, and Dr. James Rae, executive officer for translational medicine, to set overall scientific vision and strategy for the group. Ellis works with the SWOG chair and vice chair to coordinate SWOG interactions with its basic science partners, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and The Jackson Laboratory, on a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Integrated Translational Science Center (ITSC) grant, and also plays a role in coordinating educational sessions and workshops at SWOG semi-annual meetings.

Ellis completed his surgical oncology fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he has been on faculty since 1993. His clinical practice is in surgical oncology, focused on patients with colorectal cancer and liver metastases. With more than 240 peer-reviewed publications, 120 invited reviews and editorials, four books, and more than 30 book chapters to his credit, he has established a reputation for expertise in the area of angiogenesis, growth factor receptors, and cancer stem cells in gastrointestinal malignancies, and he is funded by several grants involving research in these areas. He has served on numerous National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) study sections; is a consultant to the NCI; and has held leadership positions in major cancer societies such as ASCO, AACR, the Society of Surgical Oncology, and the Keystone Scientific Symposium.

Ellis is a fellow of ASCO (FASCO), and has served as its Chair of Cancer Research Committee and its Nominating Committee. He currently serves on a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Federal Research Regulations and Reporting Requirements, and as co-chair of the newly formed NCI/NCTN Correlative Sciences Committee. Ellis is currently Vice-Chair of the NCI Colon Cancer Task Force.

SWOG Vice Chair of the National Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Dawn Hershman, M.D., M.S.

Dawn Hershman, M.D., M.S. Dawn Hershman, M.D., M.S., of Columbia University, is SWOG vice chair of its National Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) and co-chair of the cancer control and delivery committee.

Hershman is a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia and serves as director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is a nationally recognized expert in breast cancer treatment, prevention, and survivorship, as well as in the late-effects of cancer therapy, and health outcomes and health disparities research. She was awarded career development awards from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the National Cancer Institute, as well as grants from the American Cancer Society, the Department of Defense, the Susan Komen Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the AVON Foundation.

Hershman has held several leadership positions in ASCO, and received the ASCO Advanced Clinical Research Award in Breast Cancer and the ASCO Research Professorship in Breast Cancer Comparative Effectiveness Research. She has published more than 250 reasearch articles in peer-reviwed journals and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

SWOG Group Statistician Michael LeBlanc, Ph.D.

Michael LeBlanc, Ph.D. Michael LeBlanc, Ph.D. Michael LeBlanc, Ph.D., is the SWOG group statistician.

A statistician with SWOG for almost two decades, LeBlanc served as lead statistician for the Lymphoma Committee prior to being named SWOG group statistician in 2012. His research interests include the design and analysis of trials, methods for exploratory analysis of survival data, adaptive non-parametric regression, and new methods for analyzing genomic data. He is an author or coauthor on more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, many reporting on, or growing out of, his work on SWOG clinical trials.

LeBlanc earned his Ph.D. in biostatistics from the University of Washington in 1989 and was then a faculty member at the University of Toronto from 1990 to 1994. He is currently a full member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a research professor in the University of Washington's Department of Biostatistics. He holds a B.Sc. in mathematics from Simon Fraser University and an M.Math. in statistics from the University of Waterloo.


Executive Officers

SWOG has nine executive officers. Their duties are to facilitate and oversee the development of clinical trials according to their specific area of responsibility, serve as key advisors to the SWOG chair, act as liaisons for the Group to the National Cancer Institute, and report to the chair on the direction and progress of the Group's scientific endeavors under their purview.

Susan M. O'Brien, M.D.: Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma Research

Susan O'Brien, M.D. Susan M. O'Brien, M.D., of UC Irvine Medical Center, is SWOG executive officer overseeing leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma clinical research. O'Brien is a long-time member of SWOG's Leukemia Committee and is study co-chair on SWOG study S0805.

O'Brien is an international authority on adult leukemia and specializes in new drug development, and has authored or co-authored more than 700 articles published in peer-reviewed journals. She earned her M.D. from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, where she also went on to a residency in internal medicine. She completed a fellowship at MD Anderson before joining the faculty there.

Katherine Crew, M.D., M.S.: Cancer Survivorship, Prevention and Epidemiology Research

Katherine Crew, M.D., M.S. Katherine Crew, M.D., M.S., of Columbia University, is the SWOG executive officer overseeing cancer prevent, epidemiology, and survivorship research. Crew has served on SWOG's breast cancer, prevention, and survivorship committees.

Crew is an assistant professor in Columbia's College of Physicians and Surgeons and its Mailman School of Public Health, and is an assistant attending physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Crew also serves on the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Prevention and Control Central Institutional Review Board (CIRB). An active mentor and prolific researcher, Crew has advised or supported two dozen physician researchers and published over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, many on the genetics of breast cancer, breast cancer risk factors, and the impact of chemotherapy on breast cancer patients.

Julie R. Gralow, M.D.: Breast and Lung Cancer Research

Julie Gralow, M.D. Julie R. Gralow, M.D., director of Breast Medical Oncology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, is SWOG's executive officer with responsibility for breast and lung studies. Prior to this role she served as vice-chair of SWOG's Breast Committee from 2000 to 2012, and was an executive member of the SWOG Survivorship Committee from 2000 to 2011.

Gralow has served as both junior and senior study chair for several therapeutic trials in the SWOG Breast Committee, including S0307, a 6,000-patient randomized, phase III trial of bisphosphonates to reduce recurrence in breast cancer. Since 2008 she has served as an alternate member of the NCI Breast Cancer Steering Committee (BCSC) and is a full member of the BCSC's correlative science committee. In 2007 she co-chaired the National Cancer Institute (NCI) State of the Science Conference on Preoperative Therapy in Breast Cancer. She also served on the NCI Subcommittee H grant review committee.

Gralow earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her M.D. from the University of Southern California. She completed her residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard Medical School and a medical oncology fellowship at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Gralow is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Lisa A. Kachnic, M.D.: Multi-Modality Research

Lisa Kachnic, M.D. Lisa A. Kachnic, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt University, is the SWOG executive officer focused on multi-modality integration, ensuring that SWOG investigators who represent a discipline or modality other than medical oncology have a seat at the leadership table.

Kachnic has had a longstanding national clinical trial leadership position within the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), where she served as chair of its symptom management committee from 2003 to 2010 and, and vice-chair of its CCOPs from 2010 to 2014. Within SWOG, she is vice-chair of the radiation oncology committee and co-chair of the ano-rectal subcommittee. In addition, Kachnic is vice chair of the NCI Rectal Anal Cancer Taskforce and serves as a trustee (radiation oncology) and president-elect for the American Board of Radiology.

After earning her undergraduate degree from Boston College and her medical degree from Tufts University, Kachnic completed her residency in radiation oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, serving in her last year as chief resident, and was a longstanding chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Boston University from 2000-2015. Her primary areas of interest include colorectal and anal malignancies, image-guided radiation delivery, and outcomes/symptoms management research.

Gary H. Lyman, M.D., M.P.H.: Symptom Control and Quality of Life Research

Lisa Kachnic, M.D. Gary H. Lyman, M.D., M.P.H., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, is the SWOG executive officer overseeing symptom control and quality of life research. Lyman is co-director of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research (HICOR) and a member of the Public Health Sciences and Clinical Research Divisions at Fred Hutch. He is a professor of medicine at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine, Adjunct Professor of Public Health and Pharmacy, and a member of the Breast Cancer Program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Lyman is a medical oncologist and hematologist with research interests that include comparative effectiveness and outcomes research related to targeted therapies and biomarkers, personalized cancer supportive care, efforts to integrate health economics into evidence-based medicine, health policy, and advanced methods of evidence synthesis to uncover patterns of cancer treatment measures of effectiveness and toxicity in real world settings, and the impact of health disparities on the quality of cancer care.

In addition to his training in internal medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill and hematology/oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Lyman was a postdoctoral fellow in biostatistics at the Harvard School of Public Health. He previously served as chief of medicine at the Moffitt Cancer Center and director of comparative effectiveness and outcomes research at Duke University before assuming his current position. Lyman is a fellow of ASCO (FASCO) and serves on its board of directors, is editor-in-chief of Cancer Investigation, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of global Oncology, and several other professional publications. He has authored or edited more than 15 books and more than 500 scientific articles.

Craig R. Nichols, M.D.: Digital Engagement, Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology, Patient Advocacy

Craig Nichols, M.D. Craig R. Nichols, M.D., is the SWOG executive officer overseeing digital engagement, adolescent and young adult oncology, and patient advocacy.

Nichols, a physician with Intermountain Health in Utah, is a leading authority on testicular cancer, with more than 25 years of specialized patient care and research. He directs a non-profit organization, Testicular Cancer Commons, which is a team of scientists who conduct translational science, informatics, and clinical research in germ cell tumors. He also specializes in lymphoma, adolescent and young adult oncology, and cancer survivorship.

After earning his medical degree from Oregon Health & Science University, Nichols completed fellowships in hematology at University of Miami of Florida, and in hematology and oncology at Indiana University in Indianapolis. Nichols was formerly professor of medicine and the DeArmond Chair of Clinical Cancer Research at Oregon Health & Science University, where he served as head of the Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology and as associate director of the Cancer Institute. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and serves on the ASCO board of directors and the ASCO executive committee.

James M. Rae, Ph.D.: Translational Medicine and Biospecimen Banking

James M. Rae, Ph.D.James ("Jimmy") M. Rae, Ph.D., is an associate professor of internal medicine and pharmacology at the University of Michigan. As an executive officer, he supervises the use of the SWOG Biorepository, advises the Group on developing basic science methods and technologies, reviews study capsules and protocols, and acts as a basic science advisor to both the vice-chair for translational medicine and the group chair.

Rae earned his doctorate in pharmacology from Georgetown University and has been at the University of Michigan since 2001, where his laboratory research focuses on the areas of drug metabolism, pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics, and biomarker identification and characterization, particularly as these may apply to the prediction of breast cancer treatment response.

Rae holds a five-year R01 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and he receives additional support from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. He is also part of the NIH-funded COnsortium on BReast cAncer pharmacogenomics, or COBRA, a multi-institution, multi-disciplinary collaboration of laboratory, clinical, and statistical investigators.

Christopher W. Ryan, M.D.: Gastrointestinal, Genitourinary, Melanoma, and Early Therapeutics Research

Christopher Ryan, M.D. Christopher W. Ryan, M.D., is the SWOG executive officer overseeing studies in gastrointestinal and genitourinary cancers and melanoma, and SWOG's early therapeutics and rare diseases program.

Ryan is a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. He has been an active member of the SWOG genitourinary committee since 2003, and has served as study chair for several SWOG trials, including the current S0931 Intergroup phase III adjuvant renal carcinoma study (EVEREST). He was a recipient of the first NCI Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Awards in 2009 for administrative leadership roles in promoting NCI-sponsored studies at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, where he has been institutional SWOG principal investigator since 2004. He served as an executive officer for the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) from 2000 to 2003.

Ryan specializes in the treatment of sarcomas and genitourinary cancers, with a research focus on clinical trial development of new treatments for renal carcinoma and sarcomas. His particular interests include multimodality treatment of high-risk soft tissue sarcomas and functional imaging assessment of therapeutic agents. After earning his M.D. from the State University of New York Health Science Center in Syracuse, Ryan completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at the University of Chicago.

Manuel Valdivieso, M.D.: International Initiatives and Quality Initiative

Manuel Valdivieso, M.D.Manuel Valdivieso, M.D., is a clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan. As a senior executive officer, he is responsible for quality assurance and international initiatives for SWOG. The Group's international affiliations have expanded under Valdivieso's leadership, and SWOG has in the past several years welcomed members from Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, and Valdivieso continues to build collaborations in countries throughout Central and South America.

Valdivieso earned his M.D. from San Marcos University Medical School in Lima, Peru. A SWOG member for more than 25 years, his professional experience includes a faculty position at MD Anderson in Houston, where he completed his fellowship in medical oncology and co-led multidisciplinary thoracic oncology. At Wayne State University in Detroit, he led oncology and founded a multidisciplinary thoracic oncology program, in addition to serving as chief medical officer for the Karmanos Cancer Institute. His wide expertise takes in areas as diverse as thoracic malignancies, clinical trials design, and development of multidisciplinary teams. He also holds a master's degree in administrative medicine from the University of Wisconsin. Valdivieso is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American College of Chest Physicians.


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