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Renowned Physician-Scientist Stephen Gruber Named Director of USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

Photo: Peter Jones (right), outgoing director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, passes the torch to incoming director Stephen B. Gruber.
Photo by Jon Nalick

Stephen B. Gruber, a renowned physician-scientist from the University of Michigan, has been named to the position of director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, effective Dec. 1. Gruber has also been named the H. Leslie Hoffman and Elaine S. Hoffman Chair in Cancer Research and visiting professor of medicine at the Keck School.


Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H

“Dr. Gruber is ideally suited to lead USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center,” said Carmen A. Puliafito, dean of the Keck School of Medicine. “He is actively involved in research, patient care and administration, and he has a strong appreciation for the important role of each area to our academic mission, as well as to USC’s commitment to the growth of our academic medical center.”

Gruber was selected after a national search, led by Jon Samet, founding director of the USC Institute for Global Health and chair of the Keck School’s Department of Preventive Medicine.

Gruber succeeds Peter Jones, who has led the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center for the past 18 years.

Gruber comes to USC from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he is the associate director for cancer prevention and control. He also holds the H. Marvin Pollard Chair of Medicine and faculty appointments in the Departments of Internal Medicine, Epidemiology and Human Genetics at the University of Michigan Medical School and School of Public Health.

“Recognizing that research is the foundation of all that we do in cancer care, I’ve really been looking for ways to optimize our ability to advance the care of patients and families with cancer,” said Gruber. “The Trojan Family allows me to do that best, and I’m really looking forward to this transformative opportunity here at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center to really make a difference in the lives of our patients and families, as well as our research community.”

Gruber is a medical oncologist, cancer geneticist and epidemiologist whose research focuses on genetic and environmental contributions to cancer.  His particular research interests include the genetic epidemiology of cancer, with emphasis on colorectal cancer; the molecular pathogenesis of cancer, integrated with genetic epidemiology; methods in genetic and molecular epidemiology; and clinical cancer genetics and translational research in cancer prevention.

Max S. Wicha, distinguished professor of oncology and director, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, said, “Dr. Gruber is one of the world’s leading investigators studying the molecular epidemiology of cancer. He has been a wonderful leader for our Cancer Center as the Associate Director for Cancer Prevention.  We will miss Steve at Michigan but are excited by the opportunities he will have at USC. We hope that we can work together in the future.”

As director of the Cancer Genetics Clinic at the University of Michigan, Gruber concentrates his clinical practice on the care and management of patients and families with inherited susceptibility to cancer.

“Dr. Gruber is the perfect candidate for the job,” said Jones. “He is qualified as both a scientist and as a practicing physician. He brings his expertise in genetics to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and also his experience in operations as the associate director of cancer prevention and control at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center—which is arguably one of the best cancer centers in the country. I could not be happier with the selection of the search committee.”

In addition to serving on editorial boards for several professional journals, Gruber is active in national organizations. Since 2005, he has been chair of the Colorectal Family Registries Advisory Panel for the National Cancer Institute. For the past three years, he chaired the Cancer Genetics Education Committee of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

He also holds two patents on a mutation associated with familial colorectal cancer.

The USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center was established in 1971 and has benefited from continuous recognition and funding from the National Cancer Institute since 1973, when it was named one of the original eight comprehensive cancer centers. It is one of only 40 comprehensive cancer centers in the country. The NCI recently awarded the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center a five-year, $32.5 million core grant renewal to support its broad range of clinical, research and educational programs.

“In general terms, the priorities I have for the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center are to invest in research in a way that transforms clinical care and to provide the infrastructure that facilitates those discoveries and the highest quality of care available to cancer patients in the United States and the world,” said Gruber.

Gruber has been with the University of Michigan since 1997. He was appointed associate director for cancer prevention and control at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2009, and has been a professor of internal medicine, epidemiology and human genetics since 2008.

Gruber received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and his master of public health and doctorate from Yale University. For his medical degree, he returned to the University of Pennsylvania, where he also completed his internship and residency. He completed fellowships in medical oncology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and in clinical medical genetics at the University of Michigan.

He will be joined in Los Angeles by his wife, Robin, and their three children, Ellen, Claire and Megan.

 

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