Diaz Named Solid Tumor Oncology Division Head at Memorial Sloan Kettering

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has named Luis A. Diaz, MD, as the head of the Division of Solid Tumor Oncology. He will be taking over the role as the former head of the department, David R. Spriggs, MD, steps down following nearly 13 years of service.

Luis A. Diaz, MD

Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Center has named Luis A. Diaz, MD, as the head of the Division of Solid Tumor Oncology. He will be taking over the role as the former head of the department, David R. Spriggs, MD, steps down following nearly 13 years of service. In his new position, Diaz will expand clinical programs and laboratory-based research efforts and will run a clinical practice within the Gastrointestinal Oncology Service, according to a press release from MSK.

Diaz, an internationally recognized physician and pioneering researcher, who is considered to be a leader in the field of clinical oncology, has a clinical interest in cancer genetics and immuno-oncology. His research led to the clinical development of tumor-derived DNA as a biomarker for cancer screening, early detection, monitoring, and measuring residual disease. He has also pioneered several diagnostic and therapeutic genomic approaches to cancer.

Together, Diaz and his colleagues developed the basis for a molecular Pap smear to detect early-stage ovarian and endometrial cancers based on genetic markers. His landmark proof-of-principle study with PD-1 checkpoint inhibition in patients with mismatch repair deficiency received a breakthrough therapy designation from the FDA due to the dramatic responses seen on the trial in patients who had failed standard therapy.

“Diaz is an exemplary clinician and researcher, and his tremendous skill, compassion, and energy will have a powerful, positive impact on our patients and staff, as well as on our research efforts,” Philip Kantoff, MD, chairman of the Department of Medicine at MSK, said in a statement. “Diaz will play a pivotal role in improving our patients’ experience.”

Before joining MSK, Diaz was an associate professor of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. While there, he was also the director of the Swim Across America Laboratory and a member of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics. Diaz was also a part of the groups that received the 2013 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Team Cancer Award for Pancreatic Cancer Sequencing, the 2014 Team Cancer Award for Malignant Brain Tumors, the 2017 Team Cancer Award for the development of Liquid Biopsies in Cancer, and the 2017 Team Cancer Award for Colorectal Cancer.

In addition, it was recently announced during the 2017 AACR Annual Meeting that Diaz will spearhead the Stand Up to Cancer Colorectal Cancer Dream Team.

“Diaz has an exciting vision for the future of clinical oncology, a vision that fuses new, cutting-edge research with an exceptional commitment to transforming patient care,” José Baselga, MD, PhD, physician-in-chief and chief medical officer of MSK, said in a statement. “He is an accomplished and compassionate physician, and his advanced research skills will help us create better treatments for our patients.”

“I am honored and thrilled to be leading such a brilliant group of clinicians and researchers here at MSK, and to be taking the reins from Dr. Spriggs,” Diaz said in a statement. “MSK has some of the most gifted physicians and scientists, and one of the strongest research programs in the world. I want to instill a culture of collaboration, exploration, and discovery by making mentorship opportunities for young scientists available, as well as by creating better communication between researchers and departments across MSK. I am eager to work with my colleagues to advance the care and outcome of our patients.”