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Expert oncologist plays key role in cancer treatment

April 05, 2011

Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD, who has had a distinguished career in the development of cancer therapies, is the new chief of medical oncology for Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven and associate director for translational research at Yale Cancer Center. Dr. Herbst, who took the helm in March, is responsible for integrating clinical, laboratory and research programs at Yale Cancer Center to bring new treatments to cancer patients. Dr. Herbst comes to Yale from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. His new appointment marks a return to New Haven, where he received his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Yale.

“Dr. Herbst is nationally recognized for his leadership and expertise in lung cancer treatment and research,” said Thomas J. Lynch, Jr., MD, director of Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven. “Dr. Herbst is best known for his work in developmental therapeutics and the personalized therapy of non-small cell lung cancer, in particular the process of linking genetic abnormalities of cancer cells to novel therapies. He is a natural leader and will have a critical role in building our cancer program while mentoring the next generation of cancer doctors at Yale.”

Over the last several years, Dr. Herbst has initiated novel, first-in-man clinical studies with such agents as gefitinib, bevacizumab, erlotinib and cetuximab—all of which are now approved for use in cancer patients. His pioneering work using erlotinib in combination with bevacizumab was among the first to combine multiple molecular targeted agents for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Dr. Herbst currently serves as co-principal investigator of the Biomarker-based Approaches of Targeted Therapy for Lung Cancer Elimination Program (BATTLE) Trial, which has had a significant impact on driving forward the field of personalized therapy of NSCLC by assessing real-time tissue biopsies in patients for molecular analysis to determine the targeted treatment recommendation for each patient.

At MD Anderson, Dr. Herbst served as a professor of medicine, chief of the section of thoracic medical oncology, and the Barnhart Family Distinguished Professor in Targeted Therapies. He is a member of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), where he chairs the Tobacco Task Force, as well as the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians. Dr. Herbst is also a vice chair of the Southwest Oncology Group’s lung committee, a member of the medical advisory committee for the Lung Cancer Research Foundation and chair of the communications committee for the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. He has authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and has current grant funding for his work from numerous sources including the National Cancer Institute, AACR and multiple charitable foundations.

Dr. Herbst received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College and earned a PhD in molecular cell biology from the Rockefeller University. He completed his medical oncology fellowship at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and a medical hematology fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he additionally received a master’s degree from Harvard University in their clinical investigator training program.

Submitted by Mark Santore on January 07, 2014