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Noted GI cancer expert named to chair
The first woman
appointed as a Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEE) endowed chair is
Melanie Thomas, M.D., a leading expert in gastrointestinal cancers, who
will lead research in Gastrointestinal Cancer Diagnostics at the
Hollings Cancer Center (HCC).
Dr. Melanie Thomas
Thomas will hold the Grace E. DeWolff Endowed Chair in Medical Oncology
at MUSC. This position initially was proposed by HCC and Spartanburg
Regional Healthcare System under the leadership of Carolyn Reed, M.D.,
HCC associate director for medical affairs.
The highly-touted recruit came from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at
the University of Texas where she worked in the Department of
Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology. Thomas will be an associate
professor of medicine in MUSC’s Division of Hematology and Oncology.
“We are very excited that Dr. Thomas has decided to become a part of
the CoEE program and our strong and growing research community in South
Carolina,” said Paula Harper Bethea, CoEE Review Board chair. “The CoEE
program is already impacting South Carolina’s economy and enhancing
quality of life. Dr. Thomas’ work can have a positive impact on the
health of our citizens and help South Carolina become a national leader
in cancer research and clinical trials.”
In addition to her position as a CoEE endowed chair, Thomas will also
serve as associate director of clinical investigations for HCC. In this
role, she will expand HCC’s clinical trials portfolio across all tumor
types and ensure that more cancer patients have access to high-quality
“There is tremendous energy focused on leveraging the talent and
expertise available at MUSC and Hollings Cancer Center to become known
as a strong regional and national center for cancer care and clinical
cancer research,” Thomas said. “The talent, energy and dedication
available at MUSC and Hollings Cancer Center are a big draw for
Through her chair, Thomas will lead research to help develop diagnosis,
treatments and cures for gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies, or
cancers, including those of the stomach, liver, pancreas, colon and
elsewhere in the GI tract.
Specifically, research will include searching for new targets (proteins
that play a role in the disease process and are the intended sites of
drug activity) for GI cancer treatment, and identifying new ways to
screen for GI cancer.
Thomas also will develop a clinical trials program for liver cancer and
will work with others in developing a robust research portfolio and
clinical trials in other GI cancers within the CoEE. Currently, she is
the principal investigator for 17 clinical trials, several of which are
“Dr. Thomas is an active and accomplished teacher and mentor, a highly
committed and talented physician and a scholar who is interested in
translating basic molecular discoveries into clinical therapies,” said
MUSC provost John Raymond, M.D., vice president for Academic Affairs.
Thomas received her medical degree from Boston University and completed
her residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, also in Boston.
In addition, she completed an oncology fellowship at M.D. Anderson
Medical Center in Houston. She received a master’s degree in
engineering from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in biology
from Boston College.
Friday, Aug. 8, 2008
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