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Lung cancer expert to lead cancer center

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2009 - Spring


Thomas J. Lynch Jr., M.D. ’86, a lung cancer expert at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School, was named director of Yale Cancer Center (YCC) in February. Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., Ensign Professor of Medicine, announced the appointment, which was effective April 1. Lynch will also serve as physician in chief of the new Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

In accepting the new post, Lynch said that he wants the cancer center to be known for discovery; personalized cancer therapy; the importance of compassionate patient- and family-centered care; and a commitment to quality, safety and outcomes measurement.

“One of the reasons why we’re not curing cancer today is that we need to better understand the biology of cancer,” said Lynch, who served as chief of hematology/oncology at MGH Cancer Center. “Yale is well-positioned for that, with expertise in immunobiology, genetics and tumor biology. At Yale, the scale is right for an integrated cancer program between science and clinical medicine. You have laboratories where fundamental discoveries are being made—within a couple hundred feet of clinics where patients are being treated—and people who are active in the pursuit of both clinical excellence and scientific discovery.”

As part of that integration of science and clinical medicine, Lynch will oversee a new institute for cancer biology at the university’s 136-acre West Campus. He will recruit a director and a team of scientists specializing in cell signaling, cancer immunology, and drug development and target acquisition for the new institute.
Other major plans for YCC and Smilow Cancer Hospital include recruitment of clinicians and translational researchers, a significantly expanded clinical trials network and a program that will provide molecular profiling services to enable targeted therapies.

As director of the MGH Thoracic Oncology Center, Lynch made important contributions to developmental therapeutics and defining the optimal treatment for patients with lung cancer. He has pioneered the use of molecular testing for mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor gene to select patients who can benefit from targeted lung cancer therapies.

Lynch succeeds Richard L. Edelson, M.D. ’70, chair and the Aaron B. and Marguerite Lerner Professor of Dermatology, who became YCC director in 2003. Edelson will continue as chair and professor of dermatology.

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