In a move that holds immense promise for the future of cancer research, President Joe Biden has announced his intent to appoint Dr. W. Kimryn Rathmell as the 17th Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). As the federal government’s primary agency for cancer research and training, the NCI plays a crucial role in advancing our understanding of cancer and seeking innovative treatments.
Dr. Rathmell, an accomplished physician-scientist and internationally recognized cancer expert, is widely regarded as a perfect fit to lead the NCI during this pivotal time. Her appointment comes as part of President Biden’s commitment to achieving the goals outlined in the Biden Cancer Moonshot initiative, a prominent aspect of his Unity Agenda.
President Biden expressed his confidence in Dr. Rathmell, stating, “Dr. Rathmell is the talented and visionary leader the National Cancer Institute needs to drive us toward ending cancer as we know it. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated unwavering dedication to scientific research, patient care, and fostering the development of the next generation of researchers. She embodies the promise of the Biden Cancer Moonshot and has spent her career working towards the goals set for the initiative, aiming to improve outcomes and provide enhanced support for those affected by cancer.”
At present, Dr. Rathmell serves as the Physician-in-Chief and Chair of the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. With a focus on understanding the underlying drivers of kidney cancer, her research utilizes genetic, molecular, and cell biology to develop innovative approaches for improving patient outcomes.
Dr. Rathmell’s expertise and leadership extend beyond her current role at Vanderbilt University. She has held several national leadership positions, including contributions to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Cancer Genome Atlas program. In addition, she remains an active member of the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors and the Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program.
Recognized for her outstanding contributions to cancer research, Dr. Rathmell has garnered numerous accolades throughout her career. She was elected President of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, Secretary-Treasurer of the American Society for Clinical Oncology, and she has been inducted into prestigious organizations such as the Association of American Physicians, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine. Her dedication led her to win the 2021 American Association for Cancer Research Team Science Award. Furthermore, Dr. Rathmell founded a nonprofit organization to support patients with a rare cancer predominantly seen in African-American individuals with sickle cell trait.
Born and raised in Nebraska, Dr. Rathmell obtained her undergraduate degrees in biology and chemistry from the University of Northern Iowa. She then pursued her Ph.D. in Biophysics and M.D. from Stanford University, followed by internal medicine residency, Medical Oncology fellowship, and postdoctoral research at the University of Pennsylvania. Her postdoctoral training culminated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she later completed her Masters of Management in Healthcare at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.
With her remarkable background and dedication to transforming cancer research and patient care, Dr. W. Kimryn Rathmell’s appointment as Director of the National Cancer Institute holds tremendous promise. Under her leadership, the NCI is poised to make significant strides in the relentless pursuit of conquering cancer and improving the lives of millions affected by this devastating disease.