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Park named interim Hematology and Oncology director

Jan. 9, 2020, 11:09 AM


by Tom Wilemon

Ben Ho Park, MD, PhD, Donna S. Hall Professor of Breast Cancer Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, has been named interim director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology.

Ben Ho Park, MD, PhD

An internationally renowned breast cancer expert, Park is associate director for Translational Research, co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program and director of Precision Oncology at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. He came to Vanderbilt in 2018 from the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.

He assumes the role following the appointment of Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine, as interim chair of the Department of Medicine.

“Part of what made me feel comfortable to move up to the interim chair role was knowing that I had Dr. Park ready to step in and be the interim division head,” Rathmell said. “He has been here long enough to know many of the faculty well, and he has great ideas. He is ready to not just step in and keep the division afloat, but really advance it in exciting ways that I might not have done. I have great confidence in what he is going to do in this interim role.”

Park is a leader in the field of PIK3CA gene mutations. 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. He has also made fundamental contributions to the field of drug resistance, including hormone therapy resistance and liquid biopsies.

“I am honored to be given this opportunity to help lead the Division of Hematology and Oncology,” Park said. “The cutting-edge research performed by our faculty, staff and trainees has led to exciting new insights and standards of care for hematologic disorders and cancers of all types. This, along with the exceptional clinical care provided by our division members, provides the foundation for our continued future success. I am grateful to Dr. Rathmell for providing me the opportunity to build upon the remarkable achievements within our division.”

At Vanderbilt, Park has organized and led a molecular tumor board focused on precision oncology. In July, he became associate director of basic research in the division.

“Dr. Park is a quintessential physician/scientist,” Rathmell said. “He has really taken on mentorship of our junior and basic science and translational science faculty in a way that is enabling them to excel.”

Park received his undergraduate degree with honors from the University of Chicago in 1989. He then completed a dual MD, PhD training program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1995. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine and Hematology/Oncology Fellowship training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2001, Park finished a postdoctoral research fellowship in cancer genetics at Johns Hopkins. A year later, he joined the faculty in the Department of Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and held several positions including associate dean for Postdoctoral Affairs for the School of Medicine and associate director for Research Training and Education for the Johns Hopkins Cancer Center.

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