Chesney Appointed Director of University of Louisville's James Graham Cancer Center

May 23, 2017

Jason Chesney, MD, PhD, has been appointed director of the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

Jason Chesney, MD, PhD

Jason Chesney, MD, PhD, has been appointed director of the University of Louisville’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center (JGBCC). Chesney joined the university in 2003 as an assistant professor, and became associate professor with tenure in 2008 and a full professor in 2014. He holds joint appointments with the departments of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Pharmacology and Toxicology.

In addition to his new role, Chesney will serve as an associate vice president for health affairs and will continue to hold the Brinkley Endowed Chair in Lung Cancer Research. He succeeds Donald Miller, MD, PhD, who has served as director of the center since 1999 and is returning to the faculty.

“We had an outstanding pool of candidates from throughout the nation,” said Gregory C. Postel, MD, interim president of the university. “The committee determined, and I completely agree, that Jason is the right person at the right time for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. Jason’s full understanding of how interwoven research is to the delivery of innovative patient care will help us remain leaders in pioneering new and better treatments for people who suffer from cancer.”

“I cannot thank enough the members of the search committee, which was led by Dr. Kelly McMasters, chair of the Department of Surgery. This group of people was tasked with sifting through a number of very high-quality candidates and finding the right person for the University of Louisville.”

In 2014, Chesney’s clinical research team, along with a second team from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, were the top 2 clinical groups worldwide to find that the combination of ipilimumab (Yervoy) with another immune checkpoint inhibitor, nivolumab (Opdivo), was the most effective immunotherapy regimen ever developed for cancer patients.

Chesney’s research group has also discovered the roles of several metabolic enzymes in the development and progression of lung cancer over the past 10 years, including 6-phosphofructo-2-kinase 3, choline kinase, and cytochrome c oxidase. These targets are now being interrogated for their utility in the development of new drugs to treat not only lung cancer, but also other types of cancer. Chesney also has been at the forefront of understanding the metabolic effects of cancer-driving genes including RAS, the estrogen receptor and the epidermal growth factor receptor.

Additionally, Chesney is an inventor on 9 US patents for new cancer therapies and his laboratory research has resulted in 2 ongoing phase I clinical trials of novel cancer drugs that are currently available to advanced cancer patients.

“At the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, we have the chance to have a major impact on the welfare of our region’s population through an expansion in our clinical enterprise, outreach program, basic and clinical research and education programs,” Chesney said. “I am humbled that I will have the opportunity to see to it that we take advantage of it.

“The foundation of excellence that has been established by Dr. Miller during his tenure is extraordinary. It truly is an honor to be asked to lead the next phase of development.”

Chesney is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the National Cancer Institute’s Tumor Cell Biology Study Section. Additionally, he serves as a reviewer for peer-reviewed journals includingNature Medicine,Cancer Cell,Journal of Clinical InvestigationandPLOS One, and has chaired or served as a reviewer on a multitude of study sections both within the National Cancer Institute and other national research organizations.

Chesney earned his bachelor’s degree in anthropology, his PhD, and his MD, all from the University of Minnesota. He performed his residency at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Cornell University Medical College-New York Hospital. He was a clinical fellow in the division of immunology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University.