Eric L. Chang, M.D., has been appointed professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, effective Sept. 26, Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, M.D., M.B.A., has announced.
An internationally recognized authority in radiotherapeutic evaluation and the management of patients, Chang will also be chief of radiation oncology at the USC Norris Cancer Hospital, USC University Hospital and Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center.
Chang comes from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he has been professor of radiation oncology and director of the Central Nervous System Stereotactic Radiation Program.
“I am confident that Dr. Chang will lead our Department of Radiation Oncology into a new era of clinical excellence, as we significantly increase the size and scope of our cancer medicine activities at USC,” Puliafito said.
Chang established the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s first gamma knife program and first stereotactic spine radiosurgery program. Under his leadership, both programs have been internationally recognized for their clinical excellence. Both of these techniques use carefully targeted radiation to treat tumors in the brain and spine with minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue.
“Building services for cancer patients is a key priority at USC’s hospitals, and Dr. Chang will play an important role in expanding and strengthening our radiation oncology services and facilities,” said Mitch Creem, CEO of USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital.
One of Chang’s immediate goals is to recruit additional faculty who will allow the department to provide more comprehensive and specialized services to patients using some of the most advanced radiation therapy equipment.
“There are significant opportunities to contribute towards improving how people face and respond to a diagnosis of cancer, through patient education, and helping patients to receive the best care possible using a personalized treatment approach that will help maximize cancer control, while maintaining quality of life and minimizing symptoms related to cancer or its treatment,” he said.
Serving as chair “allows me to take on the exciting challenge of setting a high standard for patient care, clinical and translational research, and the training and education of residents and medical students, that will directly benefit patients today, and ultimately patients who will be cared for in the future,” Chang said.
Tumors of the central nervous system have been the focus of Chang’s research, which has included a clinical trial looking at neurocognition and the respective roles of radiosurgery and whole-brain irradiation in the management of brain metastases. At USC, he will continue this type of research, especially with the recent establishment of a neuro-oncology program specializing in the treatment of patients with brain tumors. He also expects to expand his research interests to support the growth and academic career development of the radiation oncology faculty.
A native of New York City, Chang received a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed his residency at the Harvard Joint Center for Radiation Therapy and internship at the California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco. He was a research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and received post-graduate training in gamma knife utilization in Sweden and at the Cleveland Clinic.
He is an author or co-author of more than 150 peer-reviewed papers or abstracts, seven invited articles, and 17 book chapters.
Chang’s appointment follows a nationwide search led by search committee chair Stephen Sener, M.D., professor of clinical surgery and chief of the division of surgical oncology at the Keck School of Medicine.