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Fox Chase Cancer Center Appoints Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, FACP, Chairman of the Department of Medical Oncology

PHILADELPHIA (November 2, 2009) – Noted breast cancer clinician and researcher Massimo Cristofanilli, MD, FACP, has been appointed chairman of the department of medical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center and will hold the G. Morris Dorrance Jr. Endowed Chair in medical oncology.  He will arrive at Fox Chase in January 2010.

In addition to his position in the department of medical oncology, Cristofanilli will play a vital leadership role in Fox Chase’s new Women’s Cancer Center, overseeing all breast cancer care, and will co-direct the Women’s Cancer Program, one of Fox Chase’s six core research programs within the Cancer Center.  He will also serve as associate director of clinical research for Fox Chase’s Cancer Center Support Grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Cristofanilli comes to Fox Chase from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, where he founded and served as executive director of the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Program and Clinic, which treats more cases of inflammatory breast cancer than any other facility in the world. The program and clinic honor Morgan Welch, one of Cristofanilli’s youngest patients. Welch was diagnosed with metastatic inflammatory breast cancer at the age of 24.

“The recruitment of Dr. Cristofanilli comes at an auspicious time for Fox Chase, which recently opened its new Women’s Cancer Center to provide comprehensive women’s cancer-related services,” says Michael V. Seiden, MD, PhD, president and CEO of Fox Chase Cancer Center.  “Dr. Cristofanilli’s expertise in translational research and team-based collaborative science will compliment the strong breast cancer teams already in place at Fox Chase and will dovetail nicely with our robust ovarian cancer research program.”

In addition to specializing in the treatment of patients with inflammatory breast cancer—one of the rarest and most aggressive forms of breast cancer—Cristofanilli also focuses much of his attention on a broad range of translational research around the disease.  His research interests include the use of molecular targeted agents in imaging and therapeutics; the study of breast cancer stem cells; the delivery of gene therapies to local regional recurrences of breast cancer; and the utility of monitoring, capturing, and studying circulating tumor cells in the management of women with inflammatory breast cancer.

"I am determined to improve the quality of diagnostics and care of cancer patients through the development of superb translational research,” says Cristofanilli. “I believe in multidisciplinary team science as the most appropriate way to achieve this goal. Fox Chase Cancer Center has a vibrant, young and enthusiastic leadership that provides the ideal environment for rapid growth in this area. I am proud to be part of this leadership team and look forward to contributing my passion, vision, and expertise."

Cristofanilli received his MD from the University La Sapienza in Rome, Italy, where he also completed a fellowship in medical oncology.  After arriving in the United States, Cristofanilli completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Cabrini Medical Center in New York.  He later became a fellow in medical oncology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.  Cristofanilli is board-certified by the European Society for Medical Oncology, the American Board of Medical Oncology, the American Board of Internal Medicine, and the Italian Certification in Medical Oncology.

“Dr. Cristofanilli is an enthusiastic and tireless clinician and researcher,” adds Seiden. “He has an outstanding track record for building teams to execute cutting edge clinical trials designed to answer pertinent questions in the management of woman with breast cancer.”

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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