Jonathan Friedberg Named Director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center

Mar. 14, 2013
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Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc.

Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc., has been appointed director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center. A hematologist and national leader in lymphoma care and research, Friedberg joined the Medical Center in 2002 and was named chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Medicine in 2009. He has served as acting director of Wilmot since July 2012.

“Jonathan is respected across the institution as an academic and clinical leader of exceptional vision and talent,” said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., chief executive officer of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “He leads with warmth and respect for those around him, while at the same time driving multiple initiatives forward at a rapid pace. I have no doubt that Wilmot's broad mission -- to deliver the most advanced cancer care, to expand the reach of our services regionally, and to be a leader in cancer research -- will thrive under Jonathan's leadership.”

The number of cancer patients receiving care at Wilmot has grown at a double-digit rate each year since 2009.  Much of that growth has been driven by patients in outlying areas who travel to Wilmot for specialty services. In part to accommodate the increased demand, three floors were recently built atop the cancer center’s building, providing an additional 100,000 square feet of space that now houses a new blood and bone marrow transplant unit and a hematology/oncology unit.  These two new inpatient units complement a range of outpatient services – including radiation oncology and a comprehensive breast care center – on the floors below. The entire third floor of the building houses 30,000 square feet of research labs that allow cancer researchers at Wilmot to work more closely with oncologists. 

"Our scientific understanding of cancer – of how it begins in our cells, how it progresses, and how we can stop it – has increased dramatically over the last decade," said Friedberg. "Wilmot's greatest strength is that we have clinicians and researchers working together, studying cancer and applying the latest scientific knowledge to the care of every patient. One of my goals for Wilmot is to create an environment that nurtures those interactions so that we deliver the highest quality of care for our patients." 

Friedberg intends to focus the development of Wilmot along four strategic priorities:

  • Developing a new strategic plan for research that focuses on four areas: cancer vulnerabilities (finding new ways to attack cancer by targeting its weaknesses within cells); solid tumors (such as breast, colon, and lung cancer); hematologic malignancies (such as leukemia and lymphoma); and cancer control and survivorship.
  •  Extending Wilmot’s services to patients throughout the region, through new programs and through affiliations with other oncology providers.
  •  Embracing multidisciplinary care, in which patients receive care from a team of clinicians ranging from oncologists and surgeons to nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, and others.
  • Serving the community through outreach and advocacy.

“Jonathan’s career path as a clinician and clinical researcher, as a mentor for junior faculty, and as division chief of Hematology/Oncology make him an outstanding choice to lead Wilmot,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry.  “He has the experience and perspective to grow the clinical enterprise regionally, elevate our research programs, and set new standards in patient care.”

In addition to announcing Friedberg’s appointment, Berk and Taubman reaffirmed the 2012 appointment of Hartmut “Hucky” Land, Ph.D., as director of research and co-director of the Wilmot Cancer Center. A basic scientist who has served as the founding chair of the Department of Biomedical Genetics since 2001, Land has contributed key discoveries about the ways that gene mutations cooperate within cells to initiate cancer. As Wilmot’s director of research, he is working with Friedberg to develop the center’s research strategic plan.

Friedberg is a clinical researcher whose work focuses on development of novel therapies for patients with lymphoma. He is a member of the lymphoma committee in the Southwest Oncology Group, the nation’s largest cooperative clinical trials group, and has served as principal investigator on many clinical trials for Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2008 he received the Scholar in Clinical Research Award from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for his work with an oral inhibitor of a protein called Syk, which demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of several different forms of lymphoma. In 2011 Friedberg was named associate editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, one of the leading academic journals in the field. Last year he received the Faculty Academic Mentoring Award from the School of Medicine and Dentistry.

Friedberg earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School. His postgraduate training included an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. He also completed medical oncology and hematology fellowships at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care. He earned an M.M.Sc. degree in clinical investigation from Harvard Medical School.