University alumnus appointed executive director of Mays Cancer Center

Lei Zheng, MD, PhD

Lei Zheng, MD, PhD — an alumnus of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio — has been appointed executive director of the Mays Cancer Center and vice president for oncology for the health science center, effective Sept. 1.

Zheng will also be named the Mays Family Foundation Distinguished University Presidential Chair of Oncology and appointed as a professor with tenure in the Department of Medicine in the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.

In a June 21 message sent to Mays Cancer Center faculty and staff by Acting UT Health San Antonio President Rob Hromas, MD, FACP, and Francisco Cigarroa, acting dean of the Long School of Medicine and professor of surgery and director of the Alvarez Transplant Center, Zheng is described as one of the world’s leading pancreatic cancer medical oncologists and researchers.

“Dr. Zheng has led one of the largest pancreatic cancer precision oncology and multidisciplinary programs in the world,” the message stated. “He has established a pancreatic cancer immunotherapy research program on a neoadjuvant therapy platform as well as several preclinical models of pancreatic cancer for developing innovative immunotherapy strategies.”

Zheng is currently professor of oncology and surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; director of the Pancreatic Cancer Precision Medicine Center of Excellence Program at Johns Hopkins; an associate cancer center director of precision medicine for the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC) at Johns Hopkins; and director of the Multidisciplinary Gastrointestinal Cancer Laboratories Program and assistant cancer center director of translational research at SKCCC.

Zheng received his medical degree from Peking Union Medical College in China and his doctorate in Molecular Medicine from UT Health Science Center San Antonio. He also completed his postdoctoral research fellowship in Molecular Medicine at the health science center and a postdoctoral research fellowship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Rockefeller University. He completed his internal medicine residency at Long Island Jewish Medical Center (now Northwell Health and the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell) and his medical oncology fellowship training at Johns Hopkins.

In their message, Hromas and Cigarroa expressed their appreciation to members of the search committee and to the leaders who oversaw the cancer center’s operations during the search for an executive director.

“As we look to the next chapter of leadership of our cancer center, we are extremely grateful to Anand Karnad, MD, acting chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, and Amelie Ramirez, DrPH, associate director of Mays Cancer Center’s Community Outreach and Engagement Program, for their leadership on this important search committee, along with all other members of the committee who dedicated many hours of their time to this national search,” the message stated.

Hromas and Cigarroa also expressed their deep appreciation and gratitude to Patrick Sung, DPhil, director of the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute, who has served as the cancer center’s interim director for the past 16 months, and to the center’s Chief Medical Officer Mark Bonnen, MD.

“Together, they have tirelessly shepherded the operations of this dynamic and growing organization that is so vital to our community as the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center serving South Texas,” the message stated.

Hromas and Cigarroa also expressed appreciation to each faculty and staff member of the Mays Cancer Center and the university’s health care practice providers who dedicate their time and energy every day in the collective march toward a cure for every cancer.

“We cannot achieve excellence in cancer prevention, patient care and discovery without you,” the message stated.



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