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Charles Clevenger named associate director for precision oncology at Massey

A pathologist, Clevenger identified a protein involved in milk production as a potential target for novel breast cancer therapies

Charles Clevenger

VCU Massey Cancer Center researcher Charles Clevenger, M.D., Ph.D., has been named associate director for precision oncology at Massey.

“It’s with pleasure that I appoint Dr. Clevenger to this new leadership role at Massey,” said Robert Winn, M.D., director of Massey Cancer Center. “He brings deep expertise and experience in laboratory research, teaching and administration to a leadership position that will be pivotal to advancing and growing Massey’s precision oncology capabilities and scientific contributions.”

As the inaugural associate director for precision oncology at Massey, Clevenger will serve on the cancer center’s Executive Committee and will play a key role in defining and implementing the strategic vision of precision medicine at Massey. He will lead the integration of a precision medicine focus into all of Massey’s research programs and will direct the cancer center in scaling up efforts to identify the genomic drivers in cancer and to translate this information into more effective strategies to prevent and treat cancer.

In 2014, Massey became the first in Virginia to perform next generation DNA sequencing for precision cancer treatment. With this in-house capability, Massey can sequence the DNA of a patient’s tumor and then match them with existing or experimental therapies that target the specific molecule or gene driving their disease.

“Targeted therapies have shown dramatic results in lung cancers and melanoma,” says Clevenger. “Our hope is to one day sequence the DNA and RNA of every cancer patient’s tumor in order to discover new treatments and molecular targets and ultimately provide a more effective and personalized, less toxic approach to therapy.”

Clevenger has been a Massey Cancer Center research member since he joined VCU in 2013 as a professor and chair of the Department of Pathology at the VCU School of Medicine. He is the Carolyn Wingate Hyde Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and previously served as the associate director for basic research at Massey.

After earning his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University, Clevenger completed his residency training and cytopathology fellowship, as well as a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Michael Prystowsky, at the University of Pennsylvania. He remained as faculty at U. Penn until 2005, when he was recruited back to Northwestern as the Diana Princess of Wales Professor of Cancer Research and leader of the Women’s Cancer Research Program of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

Clevenger is an internationally recognized scholar for his research into the role that the hormone prolactin, which is primarily responsible for the production of milk during pregnancy, plays in the growth of breast tumors. His lab has made fundamental insights into novel mechanisms of prolactin receptor signal transduction and is actively translating these findings into clinical trials.

Continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 25 years, Clevenger has received funding from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and the Susan G. Komen, Avon and Lynn Sage Foundations. He has served on and/or chaired numerous review panels for all of these funding agencies, and he has served on several editorial boards and is the member of numerous professional associations.

Clevenger has published more than 90 research manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cancer Research and the American Journal of Pathology. He is also the recipient of several honors, including Pfizer Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Society of Investigative Pathology and a Translational Breast Cancer Research Award from the American Association for Cancer Research/Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Written by: Jenny Owen

Posted on: June 24, 2020