Dr. Theodore S. Lawrence, has been named the director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center.
The Board of Regents approved the appointment Thursday. Lawrence succeeds Dr. Max S. Wicha, who founded the center 27 years ago.
“This is a tremendous program with talented and dedicated faculty and staff, a terrific research infrastructure and superb core facilities,” says Lawrence, who will assume the title of Max S. Wicha, M.D., Distinguished Professor of Oncology. He also is chair of radiation oncology at the Medical School.
Lawrence cites the Comprehensive Cancer Center’s strength in precision medicine, drug discovery and health policy research, as well as opportunities to deepen clinical and translational research efforts.
The center’s “comprehensive” status is designated by the National Cancer Institute and reflects participation in cancer basic, clinical, and population sciences research, with strong interactions among those areas. A center must also provide public information, education and outreach programs. U-M is one of two comprehensive cancer centers in Michigan and one of 41 across the country.
“Michigan has been the epicenter of many global advances in cancer research and care. As patients, families and the scientific community look to us for the next breakthroughs, we are fortunate to have the expertise of an established leader of Dr. Lawrence’s caliber to guide the Cancer Center into a very promising future,” says Dr. James O. Woolliscroft, dean of the Medical School and Lyle C. Roll Professor of Medicine.
In addition to continuing to advance the center’s research excellence, Lawrence plans to grow its statewide presence as part of an effort to bring cancer care closer to home.
“The vast majority of cancer care can be done in the community with strong partnerships. We want to create more of those partnerships to allow more patients in our state to receive the right care in the right place,” Lawrence says.
Lawrence’s laboratory interests are focused on chemotherapeutic and molecularly targeted radiosensitizers. His clinical research combines these laboratory studies with conformal radiation guided by metabolic and functional imaging to treat patients with pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers. Lawrence expects to continue patient care and research activities as Comprehensive Cancer Center director. He will continue to serve as chair of radiation oncology as well.
In addition, Lawrence has served in leadership positions in many of the most prestigious oncology societies, including the American Society of Radiation Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Radiation Oncology Institute, the Society of Chairs of Radiation Oncology, and both the Board of Scientific Councilors and the Board of Scientific Advisors of the National Cancer Institute.
He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has received the ASTRO Gold Medal, the highest award conferred by the society, an ASCO Statesman Award, and the 2014 Outstanding Investigator Award from the Radiological Society of North America.
Lawrence joined the U-M faculty in 1987, following a fellowship in medical oncology and a residency in radiation oncology at the National Cancer Institute. He received his research degree in cell biology from the Rockefeller University in New York, followed by his medical degree from Cornell University and an internal medicine residency at Stanford University.