Vanderbilt physician to head National Cancer Institute

President Joe Biden said Nov. 17 that he intends to tap W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, to lead the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Rathmell is an oncologist who currently leads Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center as physician-in-chief and is chair of the department of medicine. She is internationally renowned for her research of kidney cancer. 

President Biden noted in his remarks that Dr. Rathmell's appointment will help propel the U.S. toward achieving "Cancer Moonshot" goals — like cutting cancer deaths in half, saving 4 million lives. 

Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer of VUMC and dean of its medical school, said in anews release he is "thrilled with Dr. Rathmell's appointment as our nation's leader in the war on cancer — a tremendous honor for her and for Vanderbilt."

As she steps into a national role to lead the NCI, Dr. Rathmell's shoes at Vanderbilt will be filled by Jane Freedman, MD, professor of medicine at VUMC and director of the division of cardiovascular medicine. She will serve as the interim chair for the department of medicine and physician-in-chief beginning Dec. 1.

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