Head and neck cancer authority Xiao-Jing Wang is the new chief science officer at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. She also has been designated associate director for basic science, the leadership role previously held by Luis Carvajal-Carmona, who was appointed the cancer center’s inaugural chief diversity officer and director of the new Center for Advancing Cancer Health Equity.

Wang also received an appointment to the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and has been named the Stowell Endowed Chair in Experimental Pathology.

Previously, Wang was a tenured full professor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus where she held joint appointments in the departments of pathology, dermatology, otolaryngology, radiation oncology and craniofacial biology. She was also the John. S. Gates Endowed Chair of Cancer Stem Cell Biology, as well as the founding director of the Head and Neck Cancer Research Program, the director of the T32 Training Program of Lung, Head and Neck Cancer, and co-director of the Colorado Head and Neck SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) Program. The program advances translational research to improve survival and quality of life for head and neck cancer patients.

“Our research innovations and areas will broaden significantly with our appointment of Dr. Wang,” said UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Primo “Lucky” Lara Jr. “She brings to UC Davis not only a portion of the Head and Neck SPORE funding, but true programmatic collaborations as well with its exciting advancements of science leading to novel therapies for multiple cancer types.”

The Wang Lab uses both mouse models and human cancer specimens for cross-species comparisons. The lab is especially focused on the role of tumor microenvironments in cancer progression and metastasis, and the properties of cancer stem cells. It also explores cancer immunotherapy and the mechanism of immune evasion of cancer.

“UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s reputation as a research institution is growing internationally, and I’m humbled to join the institution at its rapidly growing phase with my significant efforts in developing team science, clinical translation, training-mentoring and innovation,” Wang said.

Cancer center appoints new chief translational officer

Dr. Mitsiades

A new chief translational officer and associate director for translational research is overseeing interdisciplinary efforts at the cancer center that translate laboratory discoveries into new cancer therapies for patients. Nicholas Mitsiades, professor with the Department of Internal Medicine, was also named the Albert Holmes Rowe Chair of Genetics Ill, Endowed Chair.

“We are very pleased Dr. Mitsiades has joined our NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center and anticipate he will greatly enhance our mission to leverage biomedical science, from bench to bedside, in an effort to increase efficacy of therapeutics while decreasing the toxicity of cancer treatments,” said UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Primo “Lucky” Lara Jr.

Mitsiades is a physician scientist and clinically trained medical oncologist and endocrinologist specializing in prostate cancer. He focuses on providing state-of-the-art care to socioeconomically disadvantaged patients and equitable access to molecular testing and to biomarker-driven targeted therapies and clinical trials.

“Translational science can best be described as taking laboratory, clinical and community observations and adapting them into treatment interventions that will make a meaningful difference in the lives of cancer patients and their loved ones,” said Mitsiades. “I am honored to join UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. It is truly a pathfinder in pursuing cancer health equity, and I look forward to building upon the multidisciplinary efforts underway to lessen the cancer burden for all.”

Previously with Baylor College of Medicine, Mitsiades was associate professor of hematology/oncology and taught in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. He was the principal investigator of a National Institutes of Health U54 minority PDX grant, which supports pre-clinical trials to test new therapies that may help minority populations.