Penn Medicine Names First Leader of Precision Medicine to Speed Delivery of Tailored Treatments to Patients

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Media Contact:Karen Kreeger | | 215-349-5658October 9, 2013

D. Gary Gilliland, MD, PhD, has been named the inaugural Vice Dean and Vice President for Precision Medicine, a newly created role to position Penn Medicine as the nation’s top leader in the delivery of individualized medicine.

Dr. Gilliland, a cancer genetics expert and pioneer in the development of targeted therapies, will synthesize Penn Medicine’s research and clinical care initiatives across all disciplines to create a national model for the delivery of precise, personalized medicine to patients with diseases of all kinds. He will work with the institution’s top leaders in cancer, heart and vascular medicine, neurosciences, genetics, pathology, and many other specialties.

“We are proud to be among the first institutions in the country to create a position to oversee the tremendous opportunities and challenges that face us as our physicians and scientists work to hone the promise of the burgeoning and exciting field of precision medicine,” says J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “Dr. Gilliland’s experience as a leader in both academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry will help Penn Medicine forge a roadmap for the most effective and efficient ways to conduct research and deliver care in this new field.”

The establishment of the new role builds on such existing Penn Medicine efforts as the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics and the newly launched Center for Personalized Diagnostics.

“Penn Medicine already has a strong base in this new field, and Dr. Gilliland’s background and accomplishments will provide experienced leadership to take us to the next level of excellence,” says Ralph W. Muller, Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “No matter what it’s called – precision medicine, personalized medicine, or individualized medicine – this extremely promising approach will better equip physicians to match the most effective treatment to each patient’s specific disease.”

Gilliland joins Penn Medicine from Merck, where he was recruited in 2009 as Senior Vice President of Merck Research Laboratories and Oncology Franchise Head, following a long career at Harvard Medical School. At Merck, he was responsible for end-to-end research and development of its Global Oncology Programs. He oversaw first-in-human studies, proof-of-concept trials, and Phase II/III registration trials, and managed all preclinical and clinical oncology licensing activities.

Prior to joining Merck, Gilliland was a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School for nearly 20 years, where he served as Professor of Medicine and a Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. He was also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Director of the Leukemia Program at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and Director of the Cancer Stem Cell Program of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. He saw patients at numerous top Boston hospitals, serving as an attending physician in the Bone Marrow Transplant Service of Children’s Hospital; attending physician in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and senior attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. 

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