Cancer Therapy & Research Center announces new leadership

SAN ANTONIO (Oct. 23, 2009) — Three cancer specialists with successful track records in a combination of roles including clinical research, drug development, patient care and administration have been chosen to lead the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The executive-level changes were announced by William L. Henrich, M.D., M.A.C.P., president of the Health Science Center, after he accepted the resignation of Tyler Curiel, M.D., M.P.H., as executive director of the CTRC. Dr. Curiel, a professor of hematology and medical oncology and renowned researcher in ovarian cancer, expressed a desire to devote full attention to his laboratory and clinical research.

“Tyler Curiel is considered one of today’s leading talents in the study of how cancer actually turns our own immune systems against us,” says Glenn A. Halff, M.D., interim dean of the School of Medicine. “His brilliance and his passion are reasons we recruited him in 2006. Dr. Curiel believes that the best way to fulfill his destiny for the CTRC and its patients is to focus fully on his extraordinary research.”

Dr. Henrich commended Dr. Curiel for his leadership in securing the three-year renewal of the CTRC’s designation as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer center in August 2009. The distinction came with $5.4 million in new federal funding through 2012.

The void created by Dr. Curiel’s resignation as executive director prompted a decision to restructure the executive team and to bring in leaders “superbly equipped to hit the ground running, for the sake of the community and cancer center patients,” noted Dr. Henrich.

“These extremely qualified leaders realize the tremendous potential for landmark advances in cancer research and treatment here in San Antonio,” said Dr. Henrich. “They share my vision that cancer patients in San Antonio should be able to look to the CTRC oncology community for virtually all of their care. Our patients can continue to be confident that they are receiving world-class care.”

Effective Oct. 26, the CTRC’s interim executive director will be Ian M. Thompson, M.D., a researcher on three major NCI grants. Trained at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Dr. Thompson is a nationally recognized expert in the prevention, early detection and treatment for prostate, kidney and bladder cancers. He chairs the Department of Urology and leads the successful Genitourinary Cancer Clinic at CTRC, where he has an active clinical and surgical practice in urologic oncology. Dr. Thompson’s research is supported by two endowed chairs: the Henry B. and Edna Smith Dielmann Memorial Chair in Urologic Science and the Glenda and Gary Woods Distinguished Chair in Genitourinary Oncology. A prolific author, Dr. Thompson has published more than 400 scientific papers and multiple books.

Longtime colleague Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, considers Dr. Thompson a “world-class oncologist” well-suited for the challenge of leading a cancer center. “His leadership of one of the largest National Cancer Institute-sponsored trials in prostate cancer was pivotal in changing minds about prostate cancer prevention and screening. His research has actually changed clinical practice. To conduct this trial through a cooperative group with more than 200 sites required management skills as well as clinical and scientific knowledge. Dr. Thompson is an extraordinary clinician and leader.”

Serving as the interim deputy director will be Thomas J. Slaga, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, co-leader of the CTRC’s Cancer Progression and Development program and director for research for the Health Science Center’s Regional Academic Health Center in Edinburg, Texas. Dr. Slaga brings to the job a wealth of research and experience in directing and establishing research centers. He has been involved for almost 40 years with scientific studies of cancer; current interests center on cancer causation and prevention. His research program is currently supported by several National Institutes of Health grants. Founder of the Journal of Molecular Carcinogenesis, Dr. Slaga has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed publications and a lay book, “The Detox Revolution,” which emphasizes the importance of diet, nutrition and phytonutrients in chronic disease prevention.

The CTRC’s Institute for Drug Development (IDD) will be led by interim director Susan L. Mooberry, Ph.D., a professor with cross-appointments in pharmacology, medicine and biochemistry who is trained in molecular oncology. She is a co-leader of the CTRC’s Experimental Therapeutics Program and a productive researcher in cancer drug discovery. Dr. Mooberry holds seven patents on new classes of antimitotic agents, including one that was clinically developed and tested at IDD. She is a principal investigator of prostate cancer grants from the National Cancer Institute and Department of Defense, and has published more than 60 peer-reviewed publications, reviews and book chapters. Nationally known and respected, Dr. Mooberry has served on scientific review panels for multiple national and international organizations.

Dr. Mooberry will succeed Francis J. Giles, M.B., M.D., professor of hematology and medical oncology, who steps down from his dual role as director of the IDD and deputy director of the CTRC. Dr. Giles will remain on the faculty, building on his considerable experience in moving novel anti-cancer agents from the laboratory to the bedside. He will continue to focus his clinical and research efforts on providing therapy for patients suffering from treatment-resistant or pervasive disease and those with lymphomas, multiple myeloma and leukemias.

“Our CTRC is known throughout the world for its cancer drug research and for bringing together teams of experts to build multidisciplinary treatment plans to most effectively serve the needs of our patients, said Dr. Henrich. “This longstanding tradition of personalized, comprehensive and compassionate care will only continue to grow stronger.”

The Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of the nation’s leading academic research and treatment centers, serving more than 4.4 million people in the high-growth corridor of Central and South Texas including Austin, San Antonio, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley. CTRC is one of a few elite cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Designated Cancer Center, and is one of only three in Texas. A world leader in developing new drugs to treat cancer, The CTRC Institute for Drug Development (IDD) is internationally recognized for conducting the largest oncology Phase I clinical drug trials program in the world, and participates in the clinical and/or preclinical development of many of the cancer drugs approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. For more information, visit the Web site at

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