May 17, 2018

Park named to VICC breast cancer leadership position

Internationally renowned breast cancer expert Ben Ho Park, MD, PhD, has been named co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program, director of Precision Oncology and associate director for Translational Research at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. In his academic role, he will serve as professor of Medicine.

Ben Ho Park, MD, PhD

Park, who will assume his new post Sept. 1, succeeds Carlos L. Arteaga, MD, who moved to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center as director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate dean of Oncology Programs.

“I am incredibly excited to join the VICC/VUMC team. Vanderbilt is already a world-renowned institution and is well known for its innovative programs in cancer research,” Park said. Under the leadership of Drs. Jennifer Pietenpol, Kim Rathmell and Nancy Brown, I am thrilled and humbled to be given the opportunity to help co-lead the Breast Cancer Research Program along with my esteemed colleague Dr. Ingrid Mayer and guide the precision oncology effort that will help patients through molecular analyses and interpretation of their cancer DNA.”

“Ben Ho Park is an exceptional physician-scientist who is internationally known for his discoveries in molecular oncology and breast cancer research. We are excited to welcome him to this vitally important VICC leadership post,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and director of VICC. “He has spearheaded some of the seminal research in breast cancer genetics and is a pioneer in developing approaches for studying circulating plasma tumor DNA and use of these ‘liquid biopsies’ for alignment of patients with therapies for cancer.”

Park currently serves as professor of Oncology in the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Program, associate director for Research Training and Education and member of the Executive Oversight Committee at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. He also is associate dean for Postdoctoral Affairs for the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“Dr. Park brings transformative new technologies to our translational programs, as well as longstanding expertise in breast cancer research,” said W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at VICC. “Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center has one of the strongest breast cancer programs in the country, and we are delighted to welcome him to the leadership team for that program.”

Park received his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, followed by dual training at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where he received MD and PhD degrees. He trained in Internal Medicine and Hematology/Oncology at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was named chief fellow, then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cancer genetics at Johns Hopkins, where he trained in the laboratory of Bert Vogelstein, MD, the first scientist to explain the molecular basis for the development of colorectal cancer.

Park joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2002.

While at the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins, he earned several awards for academic excellence as well as medical teaching awards.

Park operates a research laboratory at Johns Hopkins and is a well-established investigator with expertise in molecular targets for cancer, including circulating plasma tumor DNA as biomarkers for detecting residual disease, which is known as a ‘liquid biopsy.’

He is a leader in the field of PIK3CA gene mutations and their relevance to breast cancer. In 2004, he was the first to identify a high frequency of PIK3CA mutations in breast cancer and then discovered their contributions toward oncogenic phenotypes. His work, including the generation of genetically modified cell lines, has been widely cited and requests for his cell lines have led to important discoveries by other investigators.

Park also has made fundamental contributions to the field of drug resistance, including hormone therapy resistance.

Along with colleagues, he holds several patents for the discovery of unique compounds used in treating various diseases.

His research is supported by funding from the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health, the Avon Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

He has been the recipient of numerous foundation awards, including the V Foundation, American Cancer Society, the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation, as well as the Department of Defense. He also has been named a Komen Scholar.

Park recently was inducted as a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.

He serves as an associate editor on the Journal of Clinical Investigation and served on the editorial board for the journal Cancer Research, and is associate editor for Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.