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Zheng named VICC associate director for Population Sciences Research

Apr. 21, 2021, 2:49 PM


by Tom Wilemon

Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, MPH

Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, MPH, Anne Potter Wilson Professor of Medicine, has been named associate director for Population Sciences Research at Vanderbilt- Ingram Cancer Center (VICC).

Zheng, chief of the Division of Epidemiology and director of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, replaces William Blot, PhD, who retired from the leadership position on April 1 but will continue to serve in a professor emeritus role.

In his new role, Zheng is responsible for direct oversight and coordination of the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program and the Cancer Health Outcomes and Control research program.  The research programs focus on initiatives within the VICC catchment area, which encompasses Tennessee and portions of Kentucky and Alabama and national and international initiatives. The scope of work includes advancing the understanding of cancer etiology, devising better methods for early detection of cancer and disease management and improving cancer patient survivorship and quality of life.

“Dr. Zheng is the ideal person for this senior leadership position within Vanderbilt-Ingram due to his exceptional research productivity and seminal discoveries in cancer research,” said Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology, director of VICC, Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and holder of the Brock Family Directorship in Career Development.

“He has proven his abilities to lead and mentor other investigators and to build teams collaboratively. Having worked closely for many years with Dr. Blot, Dr. Zheng is well qualified to advance population sciences research in the Cancer Center.”

Zheng joined VICC in 2000 when he was recruited by Blot, who had just been hired to establish a cancer epidemiology program.

“To help build the program, the first person I called was Wei Zheng,” Blot said. “I called him and Xiao-Ou Shu, (MD, PhD, MPH), who were in South Carolina at the time, and asked if they would consider moving to Vanderbilt. They said yes and came on board shortly thereafter. They brought several staff with them as well as their ongoing epidemiology grants.”

Zheng served as director of Molecular Epidemiology from 2000 to 2006, co-leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program from 2002 to 2006, and has been co-leader of the Cancer Epidemiology Research Program since 2006.

Over the past 25 years, Zheng has been continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health with major research grants. He has authored or co-authored more than 1,100 publications. He received his medical degree from the Shanghai Medical School, Fudan University, his MPH from Shanghai Medical School and Shanghai Cancer Institute and his PhD from The Johns Hopkins University.

“It is a great honor to succeed Bill as the associate director for Population Sciences Research at the Cancer Center,” Zheng said. “Bill has built an exceptional program and laid a strong foundation for future growth. He also has made a significant impact in my career, for which I am very grateful. I also want to thank the Cancer Center leadership for placing their trust in me and for their strong support over the years. I look forward to working with everyone to continue to grow this important research program.”

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