University of California, San Diego


September 30, 2003


SUBJECT:  Cancer Center Director Appointment

I am delighted to announce that Dennis Carson, M.D., UCSD professor of medicine and director of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging (SIRA), has accepted our offer to become the new director of the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center, effective November 10.

Dr. Carson, an internationally respected immunologist and cancer biologist and longtime member of the Cancer Center, was selected from a stellar group of candidates interviewed from institutions across the nation.

He brings to the position a rare combination of skills, talent, accomplishment and experience that will serve the Cancer Center exceedingly well. As director of SIRA for the past 13 years, he brings valuable experience in directing a large, multifaceted academic organization. As founder of four biotech and pharmaceutical companies, he knows the importance of building strong relationships with industry to facilitate the evolution of an exciting idea into an effective product. As a distinguished physician-scientist who conducts translational research, Dr. Carson embodies the Centerís mission to bring the benefits of new research discoveries to patients, and he has notable successes in that arena to his credit.

He is perhaps best known for developing a powerful cancer drug that has changed the way a type of leukemia is treated. Use of the compound results in long-term, complete remissions in about 75 percent of patients with hairy cell leukemia, often after just a single infusion. It is also effective in other lymphoid cancers, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.

He has discovered a number of cancer-producing gene mutations and has developed therapies for patients with these mutations. For example, his laboratory discovered a defective gene involved in brain cancer, leukemia, lung cancer and melanoma. Working with Carlos Carrera, M.D., associate professor of medicine, he developed a drug treatment that preferentially kills cancer cells with the defective gene. The drug is now in Phase II clinical trials.

In a collaborative study with Eyal Raz, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Dr. Carson determined that microinjection of naked DNA, a new gene therapy technique, could induce therapeutic changes throughout the body for at least several weeks. The simple technique may lead to treatments for cancer and chronic immune-system diseases.

In recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, Dr. Carson was recently elected to membership in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, which advises the federal government on science and technology. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, among others.

Dr. Carson earned his medical degree in 1970 at Columbia University, and completed his residency at UCSD. He received post-doctoral training at the Salk Institute, the National Institutes of Health and UCSD. Prior to joining the UCSD faculty in 1990, Dr. Carson was affiliated with Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation as division head of immunology. He currently holds an adjunct appointment with The Scripps Research Institute. He has published nearly 450 scientific papers, and is an inventor on more than 60 U.S. and international patents.

I want to thank Dr. Gordon Gill, professor of medicine, for his stellar service as Interim Director, during which he continued the forward momentum of the Cancer Center, overseeing important faculty recruitments, strengthening clinical services and establishing a foundation for building national programs of excellence as we transition into the new Cancer Center building.

I look forward to working with Dr. Carson in his new capacity and am confident that he will provide continued strong leadership to the Moores UCSD Cancer Center.

                                                Edward W. Holmes
                                                Vice Chancellor, Health Sciences
                                                Dean, School of Medicine