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Pietenpol named chief scientific and strategy officer

Feb. 10, 2022, 12:50 PM


by John Howser

Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD

Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), Benjamin F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and Executive Vice President for Research for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, is stepping down on June 30 from her long-held role as the Cancer Center’s director to focus on a combined leadership role for VUMC as chief scientific and strategy officer (CSSO).

In one facet of the CSSO role, Pietenpol, who holds the Brock Family Directorship in Career Development, will lead the organization’s scientific, technological and research strategy and operations.

In the other aspect of the role, she will partner with the CEO and other senior officers and leaders to develop, execute and sustain strategic initiatives of the highest value for VUMC.

“It is exciting to have the opportunity to step into a new leadership role at VUMC and continue to advance our strategic directions and integrate research discoveries into the care of those we serve both within and beyond our ever-growing catchment area and, importantly, make a difference in the lives of people,” said Pietenpol. “I look forward to welcoming a new director to take the lead for the next phase of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s trajectory and am eager for its bright future.”

As CSSO, Pietenpol will be responsible for developing and sustaining transdisciplinary initiatives, partnerships and collaborations among VUMC’s department chairs, center and institute directors, other members of the Medical Center’s leadership team, Vanderbilt University leaders and other affiliate partners.

She will also represent VUMC nationally through academic medical center service activities and national leadership opportunities.

“Dr. Pietenpol’s assuming these new responsibilities is a natural progression, allowing full advantage of the depth and breadth of her extensive institutional experience,” said Jeff Balser, MD, PhD, President and CEO of VUMC and Dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“Jennifer’s prior leadership involving such a broad range of transdisciplinary initiatives makes her ideally suited for these new roles. I look forward to her partnership as we continue the important work of designing and pursuing VUMC’s future.”

During the past 15 years under Pietenpol’s leadership, VICC has seen a 100% increase in its research funding, a greater than 30% increase in its analytic — newly diagnosed or first treated — cancer patients, and 160% growth in inpatient visits.

Shortly after taking the role as VICC’s director and recruiting key faculty, Pietenpol launched several strategic initiatives advancing personalized cancer medicine, cancer informatics, cancer drug discovery, genome maintenance and cancer survivorship programs.

Further, she prioritized significant growth of quantitative and cancer population sciences, including expanding its world-class cancer epidemiology program and creating a cancer health outcome and control program. These all remain recognized strengths at VICC, with the Cancer Center a leading model of clinically integrated tumor genomics and cancer informatics.

Her investments in highly qualified deputy and associate directors, program leaders and members, as well as leading technologies and shared resources, led to three successful renewals for VICC from the National Cancer Institute as designated comprehensive status with exceptional merit ratings.

In addition, through a partnership with dedicated clinical colleagues, VICC expanded the footprint of the cancer clinic’s enterprise to seven off-campus sites in the Central Tennessee region that provide personalized cancer care closer to where patients live.

As a result, VICC is home to one of the country’s most respected and diverse teams of basic, clinical and population science investigators and clinical providers dedicated to translating discoveries to patients and the community. VICC also trains the next generation of leaders in cancer care and research.

“Providing patients the most sophisticated and nuanced cancer care is an integral aspect of our health system’s offerings. From the outset, Dr. Pietenpol has been a tremendous leader and partner, working to advance and improve an impressive array of clinical treatments and research offerings that have placed VICC firmly on the national stage. I want to express my appreciation to Jennifer for her many contributions that have advanced the lives of our patients, and I look forward to working with her in these new roles,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy CEO and Chief Health System Officer.

During her tenure as director, Pietenpol also advanced VICC through her dedicated service to the National Cancer Program. After becoming VICC’s director in 2008, then President George W. Bush appointed Pietenpol to a six-year term on the National Cancer Advisory Board. She has provided expertise as a member of the Blue-Ribbon Panel, advising former Vice President Joseph Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot. She also served on the National Cancer Policy Forum and American Association for Cancer Research board of directors; and she currently serves as a chief scientific advisor for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“It has been an extraordinary 15 years, and I am very grateful for remarkable institutional support and to all my exceptional colleagues and the members of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center Board of Overseers, chaired by Orrin Ingram II, for supporting my vision and making it a reality,” Pietenpol said.

An announcement about a new director for Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center will be made soon.

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