In August 2010, nationally known cancer researcher and clinician Craig B. Thompson was named the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He succeeded Harold Varmus, now Director of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Thompson also succeeds Dr. Varmus as President of the Gerstner Sloan Kettering Graduate School.
“Craig Thompson is an exemplary physician-scientist, educator, and academic leader,” says Douglas A. Warner III, Chairman of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Boards of Overseers and Managers. “He brings to his new role significant contributions to the understanding of the biology of cancer, a strong and committed appreciation for the needs of patients with cancer, and superb executive skills. We are fortunate to have him as we seek to maintain and enhance the accomplishments of Memorial Sloan Kettering and move ambitiously into the future.”
Beginning in 2006, Dr. Thompson served as Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and Associate Vice President for Cancer Services of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. As Director of the Abramson Cancer Center, Dr. Thompson — a board-certified internist and medical oncologist with extensive research experience in cancer, immunology, and translational medicine — oversaw the work of several hundred cancer researchers as well as more than 300 full-time physicians and faculty across the University of Pennsylvania Health System involved in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. During his tenure, his accomplishments included the opening of a new multidisciplinary cancer outpatient treatment facility; the development of the first proton therapy center in the Mid-Atlantic region; and the expansion of Abramson’s translational research effort.
“We are at a time when transformative developments in biomedical research are greatly expanding the opportunities to understand disease and to improve human health,” Dr. Thompson says. “The mandate for Memorial Sloan Kettering is to take the gains of the past 25 years to provide more-effective and safer treatments for patients; to define strategies to help people reduce their risks of developing cancers they might be genetically predisposed to develop; and, ultimately, to prevent the disease from occurring at all.”
“I want us to realize the full clinical potential of all the extraordinary research that goes on here,” Dr. Thompson elaborates. “We need to continue to strengthen the bridges between our basic scientists and clinicians — to bring these communities closer together — so that observations made at the bedside inform the kind of research we do, and research discoveries made in the laboratory are adapted into therapies that can be delivered to patients.”
Dr. Thompson’s own research focuses on the role that metabolic changes play in the origin and progression of cancer. He has also done pioneering work on the genes that control programmed cell death and on how the misregulation of such genes can contribute to cancer. In earlier work, he contributed to the development of innovative treatments for autoimmune diseases and leukemia. Dr. Thompson has established a laboratory in the Zuckerman Research Center. It is headed by his wife, Tullia Lindsten. Dr. Lindsten, who has an MD/PhD, headed Dr. Thompson’s lab in Philadelphia and is an accomplished researcher in her own right. She is a Laboratory Member in SKI’s Immunology Program.
“I could not be more enthusiastic about this new role and new challenge,” Dr. Thompson concludes. “I look forward to building on Memorial Sloan Kettering’s achievements and tradition of excellence and to working with my colleagues in making progress in controlling and ultimately curing cancer.”