After nearly two years of recruiting, the Georgetown University edical Center appointed Dr. Richard Pestell as the new director of the Lombardi Cancer Center. Pestell is a researcher and clinician, internationally recognized for his work in oncology and endocrinology.

Pestell assumed the positions of director and chairman of the Department of Oncology on Sept. 3. The previous director, Mark Lippman, left Lombardi for a position at the University of Michigan in Oct. 2000. Professor of medicine Kevin J. Cullen, M.D., served as director of the Cancer Center in the interim.

The Lombardi Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers in the United States and the only center of its kind in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. “Lombardi already has a reputation for excellence, and I want to build on that reputation to make this one of the top cancer centers in the country,” Pestell said in a press release. “We have everything in place to do just that.”

Prior to coming to Georgetown, Pestell worked in many hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, Montefiore Medical Center and Weiler Hospital in New York. Most recently, he served as chairman of the Division of Hormone-Dependent Tumor Biology at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center of Yeshiva University in New York. There, his research focused on gene therapy to treat breast and prostate cancer. In 1999, Dr. Pestell and his team were praised for their work in testing an innovative technique developed to replace chemotherapy as the primary method of cancer treatment. The therapy Dr. Pestrell researches targets tumors directly, therefore decreasing negative side effects that frequently follow radiation and chemotherapy.

Pestell said there were several reasons for taking the position at Lombardi including, “the spirit of dedication to patient care, the outstanding quality of the clinicians and the basic scientists, the opportunity to build substantially in translational research, to improve the quality of patients’ therapy – and therefore their quality of life.”

Additionally, he said Georgetown’s prime location near the National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute holds a lot of potential for funding, grants and national leadership. Among other research initiatives, Pestell is the head of an inter-institutional grant for breast cancer research funded by the Department of Defense.

Pestell is planning the establishment of an oncology-genetics program in Lombardi, as well as an enhancement of resources for research in biochemistry, molecular epidemiology, biostatistics and bioinformatics. As a professor, Pestell said he would like to see more senior faculty join the Cancer Center.

Pestell received both his Ph.D. and M.D. from the University of elbourne in Australia.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.