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Steven Patierno, Ph.D. (1985)

pic of patiernoAs Deputy Director of the Duke Cancer Institute, Steven Patierno, Ph.D., helps lead a top-ranked NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center dedicated to advancing multi- and trans-disciplinary cancer treatment and research, and expanding effective cancer outreach and education. Together with the Duke Hospital and the Duke Health System, the DCI offers the highest quality of high technology, compassionate cancer care to more than 50,000 patients per year.  One of the original eight comprehensive cancer centers designated by the NCI, DCI remains as one of only 40 in the country. The DCI is a matrix cancer center with over 300 diverse faculty members, more $300 million in annual cancer research funding including more than $65 million from NCI. DCI offers more than 800 oncology clinical trials. Dr. Patierno began at DCI in June 2012.

Having completed a B.S. in Pharmacy at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Patierno earned his doctoral degree at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Science at Houston where he was awarded the Rosalie B. Hite Graduate Fellowship in Cancer Research for his work in pharmacology/toxicology and the molecular biology of cancer causation.  He then moved to the University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center as an NIH-funded post-doctoral fellow in molecular oncology and carcinogenesis.  Dr. Patierno then joined The George Washington University Medical Center, where he served as founding Director of the GW Cancer Institute, Vivian Gill Distinguished Professor of Oncology, founding Director of the Molecular and Cellular Oncology Program, Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology, Genetics and Urology in the School of Medicine and Health Science (SMHS), and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health, and Global Health, in the School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS). 

Dr. Patierno is internationally recognized as a leading expert in cancer causation and environmental carcinogenesis and his basic science and translational research laboratory has enjoyed uninterrupted funding from the NIH (NIEHS and NCI) for more than 20 years. His laboratory discovered the anti-cancer activity of a protein that is the subject of 10 U.S patents and under commercial development by a bio-pharmaceutical company as a molecularly targeted cancer therapeutic.  Dr. Patierno has authored over 120 scientific journal articles and book chapters and in 1999 he received the GWU Distinguished Researcher Award.

With over two decades of experience managing over $30 million of grants, Dr. Patierno has secured and implemented many large, complex, biomedical and public health-related research grants (both laboratory and population sciences), as well as patient-centered and community-based grants in cancer disparities. This includes major grants from the National Cancer Institute and the DC Department of Health to establish the DC City-Wide Patient Navigator Research Program (PNRP) and City-wide Patient Navigation Network, to assist minority and underserved patients overcome access barriers to cancer health care and evaluate the efficacy of patient navigation.  This unprecedented unique program, employing over 30 Patient Navigators, links more than 25 unaffiliated patient care/advocacy organizations (including four cancer centers, nine hospitals, and 3 clinic networks) under the novel concept of “Longitudinal Network Patient Navigation”.  Dr. Patierno was also PI to the NCI Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities Region 1 GMaP grant (Geographic Management Program), focused on stimulating inter-institutional collaborations between 15 regional partners.  This included an NCI-funded research program focused on the “Genomics of Cancer Disparities”, a collaboration of the GWCI with Howard University and the NIH. 

 Under Dr. Patierno’s leadership the GWCI launched Divisions of Cancer Prevention and Community Health; Cancer Control and Epidemiology; Cancer Survivorship, Cancer Disparities and Behavioral Health; Cancer Policy and Outcomes Research; Global Cancer Health; and Translational Bioinformatics and Computational Medicine.  For these Divisions Dr. Patierno served as PI to major grants from the Amgen Foundation, the DC Cancer Consortium and the DC Department of Health supporting the GWCI’s Community by Community Cancer Control Campaign, as well as a major grant from the Avon Foundation to support breast cancer screening services and e-Health initiatives in Anacostia, the poorest and most medically underserved quadrant of Washington DC.  Dr. Patierno was also PI to a major grant from Pfizer Inc/Pfizer Foundation for the GWCI’s Center for the Advancement of Cancer Survivorship, Navigation and Policy (caSNP), and to another major grant from the CDC to establish a National Cancer Survivorship Resource Center, in collaboration with the American Cancer Society.  Additional grants from the DC Cancer Consortium and the DC DOH catalyzed launch of the first clinical Cancer Survivorship Center in Washington DC, and a novel policy-impacting tobacco control program.  Dr. Patierno was also PI to an Institutional Research Grant (IRG) from the American Cancer Society, to fund pilot cancer research awards and provide mentorship to young investigators.  

Central to the mission of the Duke Cancer Institute is eliminating cancer health disparities and Dr. Patierno has received numerous awards for his leadership in this area.  He Co-Chaired the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Think Tank and National Conferences on “The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved” and has spoken at many national symposiums and conferences, including Co-Chairing the 2010 Surgeon General’s National Call to Action on Cancer Prevention and Survivorship, as an expert in cancer disparities.  He also co-chairs the National Patient Navigation Leadership Consortium.

Dr. Patierno is an accomplished teacher (twice recipient of the GW Medical Student’s Golden Apple Award for best 2nd year teacher), has been principal mentor to 21 Ph.D. graduate students, and Program Director to more than 50 additional graduate students, more than 20 postdoctoral fellows, medical residents and fellows, and a host of undergraduate trainees. Dr. Patierno played a major role in the creation and chartering of the GW School of Public Health and Health Services (now fully accredited with more than 1500 students), and co-lead a multi-institutional task force that created and launched the GW Institute of BioMedical Sciences, the umbrella institute for GW’s biomedical graduate programs. He was one of the founding members of the GW Pharmacogenomics Program, the GW Entrepreneurs Roundtable and he served as a senior advisor to the University’s Technology Transfer Office.

Click here for a list of previous GSBS Distinguished Alumni Award Winners.