MANHATTAN BEACH, CA (July 21, 2015) — The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is pleased to announce Steven Leach, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, as the newly appointed chair of the organization’s prestigious Scientific and Medical Advisory Board.  The organization also welcomes four new members to the board: Howard Crawford, PhD, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI; Channing Der, PhD, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC; Hedy Kindler, MD, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL; and Nipun Merchant, MD, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami, Miami, FL.

“I am thrilled to welcome Drs. Crawford, Der, Kindler and Merchant to our Scientific and Medical Advisory Board, and we congratulate Dr. Leach on his new role as chair,” stated Lynn Matrisian, PhD, MBA, vice president of scientific and medical affairs for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  “We look forward to working with each of them in this new capacity and utilizing their broad experience and knowledge as we work towards our goal to double pancreatic cancer survival by 2020.”

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board provides scientific and clinical expertise to guide the organization in planning and implementing our research initiatives and our information and education services for patients, their families and caregivers, and healthcare professionals. It is composed of leading cancer scientists, clinicians and healthcare professionals from institutions across the United States who specialize in pancreatic cancer.

About the New Scientific and Medical Advisory Board Members:

Howard Crawford, PhD, is a Professor in the Departments of Molecular & Integrative Physiology and Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. Dr. Crawford began his pancreas cancer research as a Research Assistant Professor in 2000 at Vanderbilt University where he studied the functions of proteinases in the formation of the putative pancreas cancer cell of origin, the metaplastic duct cell, which is found in both pancreas cancer and chronic pancreatitis, a risk factor for pancreas cancer.  He continued this line of research as an Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University beginning in 2003, broadening his studies to the various signal transduction pathways that are critical for the formation and expansion of metaplastic ducts, especially those that surround KRAS oncogene activity.  After relocation to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL in 2011, Dr. Crawford was recruited to the University of Michigan in 2015 where he serves as the Director of the Pancreas Research Program, charged with fostering collaborations among the many basic and clinical pancreas researchers at the University of Michigan who collectively investigate pancreas development, pancreatitis and pancreas cancer.

Channing J. Der, PhD, is the Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Pharmacology at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He received his PhD from the University of California, Irvine and completed his postdoctoral studies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.  Dr. Der was part of the first team in the discovery of the RAS family of oncogenes in human cancers that are now known to be the most commonly mutated oncogenes in human cancer.  The author of more than 300 scientific publications, he is internationally recognized for his contributions to the understanding of RAS regulation of cellular growth and differentiation in normal and cancerous cells.  The Der Lab has the long-term goal of developing anti-RAS drugs for cancer treatment and was recently awarded several grants, including a Pancreatic Cancer Action Network – AACR Research Acceleration Network Grant, to support this effort.  Dr. Der is an active supporter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and members of the Der Lab recently participated in Purple Stride Raleigh-Durham under the team name of the Research RAScals.

Hedy Lee Kindler, MD, is Professor of Medicine, Medical Director of Gastrointestinal Oncology, and Director of the Mesothelioma Program at the University of Chicago. She is an internationally recognized cancer expert who specializes in the medical treatment of pancreatic cancer and malignant mesothelioma. Her research focuses on the investigation of novel agents for the treatment of these cancers, and she designs and leads many innovative clinical trials for patients with these diseases. She is widely published and has been invited to lecture at hundreds of scientific meetings around the world.  She directs pancreatic cancer research for the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, and is a member of the NCI Pancreatic Cancer Task Force.

Nipun Merchant, MD, is currently the Alan S. Livingstone Endowed Professor of Surgery at the University of Miami Medical Center where he is the Vice Chair of Surgical Oncology Services and the Chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology in the Department of Surgery. He also serves as the Chief Surgical Officer and is the Director of Surgical Oncology Research of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is a recognized leader in the clinical management of hepato-pancreatico-biliary and neuroendocrine malignancies. Dr. Merchant has an active basic science and translational research laboratory investigating signal transduction and tumor-stromal interactions in pancreas cancer.  He is actively involved in clinical and translational research and serves as the principal investigator of several clinical trials in pancreas cancer. He is a member of the Pancreas Task Force of the National Cancer Institute, the Commission on Cancer and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Panel.

To learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, visit Follow the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network on TwitterInstagram or on Facebook.

About the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network is the national organization creating hope in a comprehensive way through research, patient support, community outreach and advocacy for a cure. The organization is leading the way to increase survival for people diagnosed with this devastating disease through a bold initiative — The Vision of Progress: Double Pancreatic Cancer Survival by 2020. Together, we can Wage Hope in the fight against pancreatic cancer by intensifying our efforts to heighten awareness, raise funds for comprehensive private research, and advocate for dedicated federal research to advance early diagnostics and better treatments and increase chances of survival.

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Jennifer Rosen
Senior Manager, Public Relations
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Direct: 310-706-3362