Cancer Center Research Programs & Research Leadership Transitions

By Karen Gehrman | May 13, 2021

Diller Building at Mission Bay

Inside the UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building at Mission Bay.

Since its designation in 1999 by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Cancer Center has maintained a number of basic, clinical, translational and population science research programs — each designed to coordinate research opportunities across specific cancer types. In this time, these programs have been adjusted to accommodate the accelerating pace of discoveries in basic science and therapeutics -- such as cancer genetics and immunotherapy – and allowed us to pursue innovation while adhering to NCI requirements.

For example, in 2007, we expanded programs to include an infrastructure for experimental therapies, including the launch of an early-phase trials unit and improved efforts in medical informatics.

In December 2020, the NCI-supported programs were reconfigured again. This time from ten programs into seven. Leadership for these programs has changed and expanded to include program co-leaders and newly-appointed liaisons for Community Engagement and Outreach and Education.

"The new integration between the NCI-supported programs with the Office of Community Engagement and the Office of Education will provide enhanced capabilities to consider the needs of the communities we serve in all phases of research and better fulfill our education and training mission.

President Alan Ashworth, PhD

The new programs and leadership rosters are listed below.

Current Research Program Leadership

Breast Oncology

Program Leaders: Laura J. Esserman, MD, MBA; Laura J. van ‘t Veer, PhD; Andrei Goga, MD, PhD
Education and Training Liaison: Rita Mukhtar, MD
Community Engagement Liaison: Jennifer James, MSW, MS, PhD

Cancer Control

Program Leaders: Scarlett Lin-Gomez, MPH, PhD; Pamela Ling, MD; Tung T. Nguyen, MD
Education and Training Liaison: Gideon St. Helen, PhD
Community Engagement Liaison: Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH

Cancer Immunology & Immunotherapy

Program Leaders: Lawrence Fong, MD; Lewis L. Lanier, PhD; Thomas G. Martin, MD 
Education and Training Liaison: Nina Shah, MD
Community Engagement Liaison: Bita Fakhri, MD, MPH

Molecular Oncology

Program Leaders: Charles S. Craik, PhD; Pamela Munster, MD; John S. Witte, PhD
Training and Education Liaison: Eric Collisson, MD
Community Engagement Liaison: Hani Goodarzi, PhD

Neurologic Oncology

Program Leaders: Nicholas Butowski, MD; Susan M. Chang, MD; Russell O. Pieper, PhD
Education and Training Liaison: Nancy Ann Oberheim Bush, MD, PhD
Community Engagement Liaison: Jennie Taylor, MD

Pediatric Malignancies

Program Leaders: Mignon Loh, MD; Alejandro Sweet-Cordero, MD; William A. Weiss, MD, PhD
Education and Training Liaison: Tiffany Lucas, MD
Community Engagement Liaison: Lena Winestone, MD

Prostate Cancer

Program Leaders: Matthew Cooperberg, MD, MPH; Felix Feng, MD; Eric J. Small, MD
Education and Training Liaison: Sima Porten, MD, MPH
Community Engagement Liaison: Hala Borno, MD