José Baselga Named Physician-in-Chief at Sloan-Kettering

Roxanne Nelson

September 05, 2012

September 5, 2012 — Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City has named José Baselga, MD, PhD, physician-in-chief of Memorial Hospital, the facility's inpatient facility.

Dr. Baselga is currently chief of the division of hematology/oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and associate director of the MGH Cancer Center, a position he has held for the past 2 years.

In addition to managing patient care delivery at Memorial Hospital, he will direct the clinical component of Memorial Sloan-Kettering and lead a staff of approximately 834 attending physicians. His duties will include managing the center's clinics and regional sites, working on clinical strategic planning, and overseeing clinical and translational research. Dr. Baselga will succeed Robert E. Wittes, MD, who announced his intention to step down last year after nearly a decade of service.

"Memorial Sloan-Kettering is embarking on a new period of growth and development across our range of clinical programs. In José Baselga we are fortunate to have recruited a leader with the vision, skill, and experience to work with me during this exciting time," said Memorial Sloan-Kettering president and CEO Craig B. Thompson, MD, in a statement.

"Dr. Baselga is a dedicated clinician and a distinguished researcher," he added. "I know he will collaborate energetically and enthusiastically with his colleagues throughout this great institution to accelerate cancer discovery and help bring new and more effective treatments to the clinic while ensuring the highest and most humane standards in patient care."

Translational Research

Before moving to the United States, Dr. Baselga chaired the medical oncology service and directed the division of medical oncology, hematology, and radiation oncology at the Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology in Barcelona, Spain. He had a special interest in translational and early clinical research there, and his projects included identifying novel mechanisms of resistance to current cancer therapies.

Dr. Baselga's laboratory research has primarily focused on breast cancer and, more specifically, the study of growth-factor receptors as targets for breast cancer therapy. He has participated in both the preclinical and clinical development of several molecularly targeted agents, including trastuzumab (Herceptin) and lapatinib (Tykerb), and insulin-like growth-factor receptor inhibitors.

Recently, Dr. Baselga was involved in the early development and pivotal clinical trials that led to the approval of 2 new agents: pertuzumab (Perjeta) for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer and everolimus (Afinitor) for the treatment of advanced hormone-receptor-positive HER2-negative breast cancer.

He is currently involved in the development of PI3K inhibitors for tumors carrying PI3K mutations.

"One of today's major challenges in clinical oncology is translating, as rapidly as possible, findings made in the laboratory into effective therapies for patients," Dr. Baselga said in the press release announcing his move. "Memorial Sloan-Kettering is uniquely positioned to do this — and at a time when the opportunities in cancer research and treatment have never been greater."

Rejoining Memorial Sloan-Kettering

Dr. Baselga is not a total newcomer to Memorial Sloan-Kettering. After completing his medical degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, he did his internal medicine residency at Vall d'Hebron University Hospital and the State University of New York, Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn. Dr. Baselga then completed a fellowship in medical oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and remained a faculty member on the breast/gynecological oncology service from 1994 to 1996, when he returned to Spain.

He noted that he is "delighted and feels privileged to be rejoining the Memorial Sloan-Kettering family."

Dr. Baselga is a past president of the European Society for Medical Oncology, a member of the board of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and a past member of the board of directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). He has authored more than 300 peer-reviewed articles and publications, and is a founding editor-in-chief of Cancer Discovery, the AACR's new journal.

Dr. Baselga has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including ASCO's Young Investigator and Career Development Awards and the Rosenthal Family Award from the AACR.

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