January 12, 2011


SUBJECT:    New Leadership at the Moores Cancer Center

It is with regret, along with my deepest thanks for his leadership and many accomplishments, that I announce the retirement of Dennis Carson, MD, as director of the Moores Cancer Center, a role in which he has capably served since November, 2003. Dr. Carson has been a member of the Cancer Center since he joined the UC San Diego School of Medicine faculty in 1990 as professor of medicine and director of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging.

Dr. Carson will remain as a professor and researcher in the School of Medicine. Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, currently deputy director for research at the Moores Cancer Center, will serve as interim director as we conduct a national search for a new director. The changes will take effect July 1, 2011.

Under Dr. Carson's leadership, the Moores Cancer Center - one of only 40 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation-- has become one of the country's leading cancer centers, combining research, clinical care and community outreach to advance the prevention, treatment and cure of cancer. In 2005, a beautiful new building to house both research and clinical components opened, and during his tenure, oncology clinical care has grown, both in size and in quality.

Remarkable recruitments of clinical and research stars to the faculty of the Moores Cancer Center in recent years include David Cherish, Andrew Lowey, Christopher Kane, Bob Carter, Catriona Jamieson and Santosh Kesari, to name a few. The center's stellar research and clinical trials program has flourished, most recently in the area of cancer stem cells.

An internationally respected immunologist and cancer biologist, Dr. Carson is perhaps best known for his landmark work in developing a drug to cure hairy cell leukemia. He has also discovered a number of cancer-producing gene mutations, and developed therapies for patients with these mutations. Most recently, he headed up a stem cell research disease team that was granted $20 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to develop novel drugs against leukemia stem cells.

Dr. Carson received his MD degree from Columbia University, completed his internship and residency at University Hospital (now UC San Diego Medical Center) and was a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of the late J. Edwin Seegmiller in the UCSD Division of Rheumatology. Prior to coming to UCSD School of Medicine, he was division head of clinical immunology at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. He is a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, among others.

Dr. Carson has founded four companies: Vical, Inc., a gene therapy company; Dynavax Technologies, a biopharmaceutical company; Triangle Pharmaceuticals, an anti-virus company now called Gilead; and Salmedix, an anti-cancer company.

He is an extraordinary investigator, and I am sure that Dr. Carson will continue to make his mark in the world of cancer research and contribute greatly to UC San Diego and its mission to advance human health.

In the meantime, we are fortunate to have a distinguished physician-scientist in Tom Kipps to help lead the Moores Cancer Center. Dr. Kipps is the Evelyn and Edwin Tasch Chair in Cancer Research in the UCSD School of Medicine and serves as associate director of the UCSD Human Gene Therapy Program. He is also director of a federally funded national research consortium for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Dr. Kipps is internationally recognized for his contributions to the understanding of the immunobiology, cell biology and molecular genetics of human B cell malignancies, with emphasis on chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and conducted the first FDA-approved Phase I gene therapy trial for cancer in San Diego. In his current work, Dr. Kipps is developing a method to deliver a specially modified gene directly into tumor cells in the patient.

Tom Kipps earned his MD and PhD degrees from Harvard Medical School in 1979, and completed residency training in internal medicine and fellowship training in hematology at Stanford University from 1979 to 1985. He completed research training in genetics at Stanford, was appointed associate professor at UCSD School of Medicine in 1990 and promoted to the rank of professor in 1994.

I know you will join ,e in thanking Dennis Carson for bringing his combination of skill, talent, experience and accomplishments to directing the multi-faceted Moores Cancer Center. His focus on building strong relationships with the biotechnology and pharmaceutical communities to speed the translation of the university's basic science discoveries into new and improved options for cancer patients has provided an indelible foundation for the work we are yet to accomplish.

David A. Brenner, MD
Vice Chancellor
Health Sciences