Harvard Medical School professor Charles Fuchs will serve as the new director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of the Smilow Cancer Hospital, Yale School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern announced in a Thursday email to the medical school community.
Fuchs currently serves as the Gastrointestinal Oncology Division chief and Judith B. Hale Chair in Pancreatic Cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. He has received international recognition for his work in the treatment and prevention of gastrointestinal diseases, as well as for his leading role in clinical trials resulting in the approval of drugs by the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, Fuchs is the principal investigator on the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center’s Specialized Programs of Research Excellence Grant in Gastrointestinal Cancer, which was awarded by the National Cancer Institute.
He will replace Peter Schulam, who has held both positions since September 2015.
“Dr. Fuchs is an internationally known medical oncologist in the area of [gastrointestinal] malignancies,” Chief Medical Officer of Smilow Cancer Hospital Rogerio Lilenbaum said. “He has impeccable credentials and qualifications, and I think he really brings to the table an ideal combination of clinical expertise and academic prowess.”
Fuchs received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and later earned a master’s in public health from the Harvard School of Public Health. He completed his medical residency in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he also served as the hospital’s chief medical resident.
Fuchs will also serve as the new physician-in-chief of the Smilow Cancer Hospital, a hospital within the Yale New Haven Health group. According to Yale Cancer Center Deputy Director Daniel DiMaio, the Yale Cancer Center and the Smilow Cancer Hospital have a close relationship in which the hospital serves as the main clinical outlet for the Center’s research endeavors. DiMaio added that he thinks Fuchs will play an important role in strengthening the Yale Cancer Center’s expertise in immunotherapy techniques, particularly techniques related to gastrointestinal cancer.
“We have outstanding programs in lung cancer, melanoma and early clinical trials, but [gastrointestinal] cancer hasn’t caught up to that yet,” DiMaio said. “I think that with bringing Charlie on board, we’ll expand that greatly, which will allow us to look at tumors in much more detail and figure out what drugs to use.”
Abe Lopman, senior vice president for operations and executive director of the Smilow Cancer Hospital, also praised Fuchs for being a “thought leader,” on the cutting edge of new therapies that are now being used across the entire country. Lopman added that Fuchs has been a “superb” mentor for future cancer physicians and leaders in the field of oncology, making him an ideal fit for filling a teaching role as physician-in-chief of the Smilow Cancer Hospital.
In an email to the News, Alpern said he anticipates that Fuchs will help the Yale Cancer Center grow and improve in its missions of research, education and clinical practice.
Fuchs expressed his excitement for the new position, saying that the Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital have experienced “terrific growth” in both the clinical and research enterprises in the past five years. He added that he looks forward to bringing together scientists and clinicians from disparate areas of expertise to work together on common problems.
“We want to ensure we have the capacity to meet the clinical needs of our patients,” Fuchs told the News. “We want to expand the research programs, both in terms of leveraging the important science at Yale as well as recruiting physician-scientists to increase our capacity to do innovative science.”
Fuchs will assume his new positions at the Yale Cancer Center and the Smilow Cancer Hospital in January 2017.