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University of Colorado Cancer Center names new director

Urological surgeon Theodorescu to take post in July

Theodorescu
Dan Theodorescu, M.D., Ph.D.

Cancer researcher and urologic surgeon Dan Theodorescu, M.D., Ph.D., has been named director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center (UCCC), the Rocky Mountain region's only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center.

He will officially begin work July 1, and is scheduled to be in the state for the University of Colorado Cancer Center scientific retreat March 19.

Theodorescu is leaving his post as director of the Mellon Urologic Cancer Institute at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville after six years.

He will lead the efforts of the center consortium's 432 members in basic, translational and clinical research, clinical cancer care for people and companion animals, cancer prevention and control, and cancer survivorship. He also will coordinate the center's research funding portfolio, which increased by 25 percent in 2009 to $138.9 million. He will hold the $2 million Paul Bunn Chair in Cancer Research, named after the lung cancer pioneer who founded UCCC in 1988.

The cancer center, headquartered on the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, is a national leader in personalized cancer medicine and cancer biotechnology, said Richard Krugman, M.D., School of Medicine dean and vice chancellor for medical affairs at the University of Colorado Denver.

"Dan's vision for the growth of our cancer center, his passion for everything he does and his collaborative nature make him a great choice to be UCCC director," Krugman said.

Theodorescu follows interim director Tim Byers, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean of the Colorado School of Public Health. 

"Dan is a truly outstanding translational scientist," Byers said. "He has the ability to take novel ideas from the laboratory into patient care, and to take novel questions emerging from patient care back into the laboratory for development. We are excited to soon have Dan as a colleague and as a leader here at the University of Colorado Cancer Center."

As a prostate and bladder cancer expert, Theodorescu's research has focused on looking for biomarkers that can lead to customized, targeted treatments for patients. Among his accomplishments:

  • Identifying a new metastasis suppressor gene for human cancer (RhoGD12), which can indicate survival prognosis in bladder cancer and is now being developed into a therapy to prevent metastasis
  • Discovering a novel way to combine bioinformatics and cancer biology into a tool to personalize therapy called COXEN¬†
  • Identifying biomarkers expressed in the urine from bladder cancer patients that may predict whether they will respond to treatment
  • Studying how prostate brachytherapy techniques affect a patient's quality of life
  • Creating a new modification of a bladder replacement technique following bladder removal and new approaches for minimally invasive robotic techniques for bladder cancer surgery
  • Receiving several awards, including the Sydney Kimmel Scholar Award, the Society for Basic Urologic Research Young Investigator Award and the New York Academy of Medicine's Edwin Beer Award
  • Serving as an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons

"The University of Colorado Cancer Center offers a unique collaborative environment where science and medicine can blend to provide new personalized therapies for our patients — truly 21st century medicine," Theodorescu said. "I was impressed with the visionary leadership of the school, hospital and university and the outstanding facilities that allow translational medicine to excel. It's a place that makes you feel you can overcome any obstacle in the quest to help our patients."

Originally from Romania, Theodorescu trained as a urologic oncologist at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He received his doctorate in molecular and cell biology from the University of Toronto under the mentorship of renowned cancer biologist Robert Kerbel, M.D.

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