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Message from the Chief

Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD
Photo by Robert A. Lisak
Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD

We are in the midst of an exciting and pivotal time in the history of medical oncology at Yale. Since the first chemotherapy was delivered here in 1941 (nitrogen mustard), Yale has been a leader in cancer pharmacology, developing innovative new drugs to meet the needs of patients with advanced cancer. During this time, we have seen dramatic improvements in cancer cure rates. However, in the last decade the identification of mutations in cancer genes has ushered in a new area of targeted and more effective cancer care. At Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, we are building upon these advances in cancer biology to translate this personalized cancer care to our patients while raising the bar to develop more innovative and effective treatments for cancer.

The Section of Medical Oncology of the Department of Medicine as part of Yale Cancer Center is uniquely poised to make a significant impact on the nation's battle with cancer through innovations in cancer biology, therapy, and comprehensive compassionate care. At Yale Cancer Center, we are capitalizing on the opportunity offered by our scientific and clinical growth to fundamentally change the way we think about cancer. In October 2009, we opened the state-of-the-art Smilow Cancer Hospital, giving us for the first time a unified therapeutic facility for the care of cancer patients. Since then, we have extended our reach through 15 care centers in the community that provide the research and clinical infrastructure to bring Smilow Cancer Care to our patients throughout the region in the most compassionate and effective ways.

The Cancer Biology Institute on Yale’s 136-acre West campus demonstrates our commitment to the expansion of our scientific personnel and research facilities, while sustaining the university's special interdisciplinary culture of scientific discovery. This campus additionally houses the Yale Center for Genome Analysis and the Yale Center for Molecular Discovery, which support our efforts to discover novel cancer targets and therapies through molecular analyses. Over the past decade, we have built multidisciplinary teams to focus on translational research and have successfully launched three NIH-funded Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grants focusing on skin, lung, and head and neck cancers, respectively. These grants bring experts together across a multitude of disciplines to collaborate in projects that can quickly bring laboratory findings from bench to bedside.

We are using these tremendous resources to create new scientific and clinical synergies designed to move the cancer research paradigm beyond incremental advances to a more personalized and less toxic approach, which will significantly prolong life and in some cases even offer a cure for many malignant diseases. We will further accomplish this by educating our medical students, residents and fellows to become the next generation of oncologists through our fellowship program.

Together with our colleagues at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, we are committed to maintaining Yale’s status as one of the world's top centers for cancer research and patient care, through innovative programs at the cutting edge of science and clinical practice. Our faculty lead some of the most groundbreaking immunotherapy trials, several have notably led to new FDA approved treatments for patients across multiple disease areas. As we look ahead to new challenges, we will continue to work together to translate the most relevant scientific discoveries to our clinics and to treat and care for our patients. I am proud of our teams focused on clinical care, research and education!

Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD

Chief of Medical Oncology
Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology)
Associate Director for Translational Research
Ensign Professor of Medical Oncology