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Yale Cancer Center director is named inaugural Sackler Professor

Medicine@Yale, 2010 - Jan Feb


Thomas J. Lynch Jr., M.D., has been named the inaugural Richard Sackler and Jonathan Sackler Professor of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center Director. Lynch, who joined the Yale faculty in 2009, is also physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital.

Lynch is renowned for his research on the relationship between genetic variations and the effectiveness of cancer therapies. An authority on lung cancer, he has conducted dozens of studies of “personalized” cancer therapy—taking account of small differences in patients’ genomes, or in the genetic makeup of their tumors, to tailor their treatment with the most appropriate anticancer agents.

For example, in 2008, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published the results of a multicenter clinical trial led by Lynch that showed that lung cancer patients with mutations in a gene known as EGFR did twice as well after treatment with the drug gefenitib (Iressa) as do patients in the general population after standard chemotherapy.

Lynch also oversees a new Institute for Cancer Biology at Yale’s 136-acre West Campus, for which he will recruit a director and senior and junior scientists in the fields of cell signaling, cancer immunology, and drug development.

Lynch received his undergraduate degree from Yale College in 1982 and his medical degree from Yale School of Medicine in 1986. He completed his internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and after completing a fellowship in medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, joined the MGH medical staff in 1993. At Harvard Medical School and MGH, he was professor of medicine and chief of hematology/oncology.

Richard S. Sackler, M.D., and his brother, Jonathan Sackler, joined forces in 2009 to create a $3 million endowment establishing the new professorship, expressly intended to be held by those appointed as director of Yale Cancer Center (YCC). Richard Sackler, co-chairman of Stamford-based Purdue Pharma and adjunct professor of genetics at Rockefeller University, serves on YCC’s Advisory Board and the Yale School of Medicine’s Dean’s Council. He and his wife, Beth, head the Richard and Beth Sackler Foundation. Jonathan Sackler and his wife, Mary Corson, lead the Stamford-based Bouncer Foundation.