Kachnic to step down as chair of Radiation OncologyApr. 18, 2019, 9:36 AM
by John Howser
Lisa Kachnic, MD, Professor and Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has been named professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Kachnic will step down from her role as Vanderbilt’s Radiation Oncology leader on June 30 and will continue her service at VUMC through August.
Eric Shinohara, MD, MSCI, associate professor and clinical vice chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, has been chosen to serve as the department’s interim chair, beginning July 1. A national search will be conducted to identify Kachnic’s permanent successor.
At Columbia, in addition to Kachnic’s duties as department chair, she will serve as Radiation Oncologist-in-Chief at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and associate director for Cancer Network Strategy for the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Her departure from Nashville is in large part personal. A native of the Northeast, she and her husband, Steve Englert, are returning to the area to be near family, including their daughter, who now resides in New York City, and her parents, who live nearby.
Since joining VUMC and the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Kachnic has helped usher growth in clinical volumes and increasingly more sophisticated treatment modalities for patients treated on the Medical Center’s 21st Avenue campus and at the department’s satellite clinics in Clarksville, Franklin and Spring Hill.
As the size and scope of the clinical and research programs have increased, the Department of Radiation Oncology has significantly expanded its faculty and MD residency program numbers. In addition, Kachnic has worked with her vice chair of Physics, Michael Price, MD, to implement a new physics residency program.
“Dr. Kachnic has been a transformational leader and has made many important contributions throughout our organization during her tenure as chair. I am appreciative for the focus and commitment she has brought to each of our missions,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer for VUMC and Dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “She has elevated clinical care, research and training across her department, advancing the Cancer Center’s objectives and stature in the process. I want to express my gratitude to Lisa for her service and wish her well in her new role at Columbia.”
During her time as chair, new state-of-the-art radiation delivery technology and new cancer radiotherapy programs have been implemented at the 21st Avenue campus and the department’s satellites. Clinical advancements include image-guided radiation delivery, precision radiosurgery for prostate, pancreas, ocular melanoma and multiple other cancer sites, radiosurgery with/without immune modulation to improve survival in metastatic disease, and various techniques to reduce the side effects of radiation treatment, including the insertion of gel spacers to reduce rectal toxicity in prostate cancer patients.
Treating the whole patient, the department has also developed an inpatient radiation oncology palliative care program and implemented a telehealth survivorship program from the 21st Avenue campus to reach cancer patients in rural sites, including the Clarksville satellite clinic.
“Without question, our patients are beneficiaries of Dr. Kachnic’s leadership. Now, many of the department’s offerings have achieved destination therapy status, offering adults and children from throughout the region the benefit of highly advanced treatment modalities that only we can offer. I want to thank Lisa for accelerating the department’s trajectory and for her many contributions to the success of our clinical enterprise,” said C. Wright Pinson MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health System Officer for VUMC.
Under Kachnic’s leadership, Radiation Oncology faculty are currently working on developing several new radiation programs for benign conditions, including radiosurgery for the ablation of selected cardiac arrhythmias, endovascular brachytherapy for the prevention of carotid in-stent stenosis, and radiosurgical cingulotomy for the treatment of chronic refractory pain.
The radiation oncology physics team and the radiation biology laboratory investigators have also been busy assessing novel delivery approaches including adaptive radiation, flash radiation, and radiation in combination with immune modulation for a variety of localized cancers.
Because of these numerous investigator-initiated research efforts, Kachnic and her team have successfully increased the department’s research portfolio from a number of funding agencies including the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and industry partners.
“We are very grateful for Dr. Kachnic’s tremendous contributions to the growth of radiation oncology in our expanding catchment area, including our radiation oncology-based clinical investigation,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, Executive Vice President for Research for VUMC and Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. “She contributed innovative approaches to cancer programs across the enterprise and was a valued member of the Cancer Center’s executive leadership. Dr. Kachnic brought significant expertise to our entire community from her clinical trial leadership roles in the National Cancer Institute’s NRG oncology cooperative group research. We look forward to collaborating with Dr. Kachnic in her leadership roles at Columbia through many NCI-designated cancer center partnership opportunities.”
Kachnic is a leader in the field of radiation oncology and is internationally recognized for her research in gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, having transformed the standard of care for several GI sites with the advent of precision radiation delivery techniques.
Throughout her career, Kachnic has held leadership positions in the National Cancer Institute’s cooperative research groups, is past president of the American Board of Radiology, and is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Society for Radiation Oncology, where she chairs the annual meeting scientific committee.
“I am very proud of what we have accomplished here at Vanderbilt over the last four years and am grateful for the dedication and efforts of our faculty, residents and staff in making the department the remarkable place it has become and for providing exemplary care for our patients. Chairing the department and collaborating with members of VICC, my fellow VUMC chairs, and Dr. Balser and his executive leadership team have been the high points of my professional career,” said Kachnic.