​The Critical Role of Physician-Scientists in Advancing Cancer Science 

Sunday, March 31, 2019
5-7 p.m. ET
AACR Annual Meeting 2019
Atlanta, Georgia

Physician-scientists serve several crucial roles by relating scientific discoveries in cancer to the clinical care of patients and/or the health of populations and vice-versa. In these roles, physician-scientists contribute to the advancement of cancer science through research, clinical care, education/mentoring, and/or administrative leadership across the course of their careers. Often, they serve at crucial translational interfaces between scientific discoveries that develop into newly approved devices, drugs, or guidelines to benefit patients. Additionally, physician-scientists often serve as interpreters or translators to describe the relevance, importance, and impact of science and scientific discoveries to patients and the broader public. 

However, as grant funding opportunities narrow, physician-scientists’ competitiveness versus “scientifically-focused” colleagues can be threatened. Similarly, as fiscal margins associated with cancer care come under greater pressure due to numerous internal and external forces (e.g., narrowing insurance networks, rising costs of cancer care, growing use of EHRs), physician-scientists are coming under increasing pressure to care for larger numbers of patients with greater case-complexity and often, with additional restrictions on time. 

Organized by the AACR Science Education and Career Advancement Committee, this Professional Advancement session aims to specifically explore the critical role of physician-scientists and provide strategies for their continued success in the face of increasing competitiveness in all domains of their professional service. Unique funding opportunities and the grant review process for physician-scientists, will also be covered.

Participating Senior Scientists

Please refer to the list of senior scientists below who are participating at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Participating Senior Scientists from 2019 in Alphabetical Order

Sarki Abdulkadir, MD, PhD
Professor of Urology and Pathology
Northwestern University 
Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Abdulkadir is vice chair for research, the John T. Grayhack professor of urological research, and professor of urology and pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago. He also serves as co-director of Cancer Global Health at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. Abdulkadir obtained combined undergraduate and medical degrees from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria and a PhD in immunology from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He completed a clinical pathology residency and postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. His research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of cancer development and therapeutic resistance with an emphasis on prostate cancer. He is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

“In the beginning of your career, don't settle....”

Lilli Petruzzelli, MD, PhD
Global Head of Translational Clinical Oncology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dr. Petruzzelli received her BS in chemistry and biology from MIT, and her MD and PhD from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She did her internship and residency training in internal medicine and her fellowship in hematology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She was appointed assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan in 1994 where she established a laboratory-based research program focused on the regulation of integrin-dependent adhesion in leukocytes and a clinical practice specializing in hematologic malignancies. She was promoted to associate professor in 2002. Dr. Petruzzelli began her career in the pharmaceutical industry at Millennium in 2007, where she played key role in the development of their oral second generation proteasome inhibitor. Dr. Petruzzelli joined Novartis in 2009, was appointed a clinical site head in 2011, and is now the global head of TCO overseeing the clinical development of the early portfolio in oncology.

Sanya A. Springfield, PhD
National Cancer Institute-Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities
Bethesda, Maryland

Dr. Springfield is the director of the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Dr. Springfield is responsible for overseeing CRCHD's mission to coordinate and strengthen the NCI's cancer research portfolio in basic, clinical, translational, and population-based research to address cancer health disparities and leading NCI's efforts in the training of students and investigators from diverse populations that will be part of the next generation of competitive researchers in cancer and cancer health disparities research; and create state-of-the-art regional networks/centers dedicated to cancer health disparities research and care through geographic program management.

Previously, Dr. Springfield was chief of the current NCI Diversity Training Branch (DTB), where she developed and oversaw two highly successful diversity training and partnership research programs, the Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) and Minority Institution/Cancer Center Partnership (MI/CCP). CURE seeks to increase the number of competitive minority researchers involved in cancer research, while MI/CCP aims to build the competitive research infrastructure and capacity of minority-serving institutions in partnership with NCI Cancer Centers. Both programs direct long-term funding for parties interested in cancer research-related careers and programs addressing cancer health disparities. Dr. Springfield was also a faculty member at City College of the City University of New York (CCNY), where she directed a teaching and research program aimed at increasing awareness of biomedical research to minority undergraduate students.

Dr. Springfield received her doctorate in physiology and biophysics from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She was awarded a National Research Service Award (F32) for postdoctoral studies in the Department of Pharmacology at the Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine in Piscataway, New Jersey. Dr. Springfield served as a program director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Integrative Biology and Neurosciences. She also serves as an advisor to a number of committees aimed at finding effective ways to recruit and retain underrepresented minorities in biomedical research. 

Cornelia Ulrich, MS, PhD
Professor, Department of Population Health Sciences
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah

Dr. Ulrich is a cancer epidemiologist whose research focuses on lifestyle and biologic factors in cancer prevention and cancer prognosis. She is a Jon M. and Karen Huntsman Presidential Professor in Cancer Research and Director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI). Ulrich previously served as Senior Director of Population Sciences at HCI and as Division Chief of Cancer Population Sciences in the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Utah. She came to HCI from the German Cancer Research Center and National Center for Tumor Diseases, where she was Director, as well as Head of the Department of Preventive Oncology. As Senior Director, Dr. Ulrich oversaw the Utah Population Database, Genetic Counseling Shared Resource, Biostatistics Shared Resource, Biospecimen and Molecular Pathology Shared Resource, and the Utah Cancer Registry. Dr. Ulrich leads an interdisciplinary team of scientists on research related to the prevention, epidemiology, prognosis, and survivorship of cancer. Major research areas include personalized cancer prevention with aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs; nutrition; connections between obesity, adipose tissue, and the progression of cancer; cancer screening; and the role of energy balance and physical activity in cancer prevention and cancer survivorship. Dr. Ulrich is also Principal Investigator of the HCI of the Total Cancer Care Protocol in the ORIEN network of cancer centers.

In her role as director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at HCI, Ulrich serves as principal investigator of HCI's Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG).

Dr. Ulrich has authored more than 350 publications, including the book "Exercise, Energy Balance, and Cancer". She has served as PI of 23 active or completed funded projects, including a U01, nine R01 grants that involve multiple institutions, one R21, four R03s, one U54 Project PI, and seven European grants. Since 2001, she has been funded as PI of either NIH grants or awards made through the equivalent German and European granting organizations. She is an elected member to the European Academy of Cancer Sciences, and serves on numerous national and international advisory boards, committees, and editorial boards, including several of the National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, International Agency for Research on Cancer, and American Association of Cancer Research.

Jonathan S. Wiest, PhD
Director, Center for Cancer Training
National Cancer Institute 
Bethesda, Maryland

Dr. Jonathan S. Wiest bachelor’s degree is in analytical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1980.  Dr. Wiest received a PhD in Biochemistry in 1988 and did a postdoc at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. He rose to the rank of senior staff fellow and then assisted in establishing a Cancer Research Institute in western Colorado. In 1996, he became an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, Department of Environmental Health, School of Medicine. Dr. Wiest joined the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute as the associate director for training and education in 2001. In 2008, the NCI director appointed Dr. Wiest to lead the formation of the Center for Cancer Training (CCT) as the director. The CCT coordinates the major training activities at NCI in both the intramural and extramural communities.  In 2003, Dr. Wiest received the NIH Director’s Award for Mentoring as well as the NCI Outstanding Mentor award.  In 2007, he received an NIH Award of Merit for mentoring. In 2015, the Center for Cancer Training received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Postdoctoral Association at the annual meeting. The major focus of his research involves genetic alterations in lung tumorigenesis. He is involved in studies to identify tumor suppressor genes and altered signaling pathways in lung cancer.  

We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to hear from world-renowned cancer researchers about the critical roles of physician-scientists in cancer research and learn strategies for continued success in the face of increasing competitiveness in all domains of your professional service! If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact our staff at