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Prestigious appointment for cancer center director


UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Primo “Lucky” Lara, Jr. has been appointed co-chair-elect of the SWOG Cancer Research Network, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-supported alliance. He’ll share the job with Dawn L. Hershman, deputy director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University.

Dark-hair Asian American man with bow tie and dark suit
Cancer center Director Primo “Lucky” Lara, Jr. is the new co-chair-elect of the SWOG Cancer Research Network

SWOG’s Board of Governors voted May 15 to appoint the two cancer center leaders to serve as co-chairs-elect until the term of the current SWOG group chair, Charles D. Blanke, ends in spring 2025. At that point, the two will begin a six-year term as SWOG’s first group co-chairs.

“SWOG is incredibly fortunate to have these two individuals, with their exceptional skills, judgement, and complementary bodies of experience and expertise as the future leaders of the group,” said Blanke in his blog yesterday.

In a joint statement, Lara and Hershman said, “We both understand that the success of SWOG has been fundamentally anchored in collaborative interdisciplinary team science. We are convinced that a multi-PI (principal investigator) approach at the group chair level truly represents SWOG’s highly successful team-based nature.”

Along with serving as the cancer center director, Lara is professor of medicine and executive associate dean for cancer programs at the UC Davis School of Medicine. Within SWOG he currently serves as the group’s deputy chair and vice chair of operations.  

History of SWOG and its impact today

SWOG Cancer Research Network is a global cancer research community of over 18,000 members in 45 states and nine countries who design and conduct publicly funded clinical trials.

The group is a proud member of the NCI National Clinical Trials Network and the NCI Community Oncology Research Program. SWOG is a major part of the cancer research infrastructure in the U.S. and the world.

Texas pediatrician Grant Taylor founded the group in Houston in 1956 under a new NCI program aimed at testing childhood cancer treatments through regional networks of physicians. It was originally known as the Southwest Cancer Chemotherapy Study Group, which later became the Southwest Oncology Group or SWOG. The name of the organization was changed in 2018 to SWOG Cancer Research Network.

SWOG has established a rich trove of resources. Its online clinical trial and publications search tools include more than 1,400 trials and over 4,000 trial publications and presentations. SWOG's biorepository includes over 800,000 blood, tissue, and other biological samples. All of these resources are publicly available in order to advance cancer research worldwide.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 100,000 adults and children every year and access to more than 200 active clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 240 scientists at UC Davis who work collaboratively to advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Patients have access to leading-edge care, including immunotherapy and other targeted treatments. Its Office of Community Outreach and Engagement addresses disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations, and the cancer center provides comprehensive education and workforce development programs for the next generation of clinicians and scientists. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.

Clinical Trials at UC Davis