Winship realigns research programs to increase impact

Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University has been granted formal approval from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to realign the four research programs funded by its NCI Cancer Center Support Grant. The benefit to patients will be significant because these research programs go to the core of how scientific discovery advances the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer. Moreover, they are unique to Winship as Georgia’s only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center.

“The reorganization will enable Winship’s research to have the greatest impact on our community and to fulfill Winship’s mission of lessening the burden of cancer in Georgia,” says Winship Executive Director Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD.

“This realignment will open up more collaborative possibilities for our faculty and focus our efforts on research that advances cancer discoveries,” says Kimberly F. Kerstann, PhD, Winship senior director for research administration.

The realignment creates a new Cancer Immunology (CI) Research Program, which builds on Winship’s growing strengths in cancer immunology and the integration of immunology research efforts across Emory University. Since Winship defined cancer immunology as a key priority, its portfolio of immunology and immunotherapy-related research has flourished. Madhav Dhodapkar, MBBS, who joined in 2018 as inaugural director of the Winship Center for Cancer Immunology, and Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center, will lead this new program. The program will include translational physicians and scientists at Winship as well as from the Emory Vaccine Center and the Department of Immunology and Microbiology.

The realignment also creates another new entity, the Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) Research Program, led by Jing Chen, PhD, and Wei Zhou, PhD. The research themes for the CMB program are cancer cell metabolism, cancer cell stress and survival, mechanisms of invasion and metastasis, and gene regulation.

Members of the former Cancer Cell Biology and Cancer Genetics and Epigenetics programs will migrate to the new CI and CMB programs. The other two Winship research programs will continue under the same names: Discovery and Developmental Therapeutics (DDT) Research Program, led by Haian Fu, PhD, and Taofeek Owonikoko, MD, PhD, MSCR; and the Cancer Prevention and Control (CPC) Research Program, led by Timothy L. Lash, DSc, MPH, and Mylin Torres, MD.


Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University is Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and serves as the coordinating center for cancer research, education, and care throughout Emory University. Winship serves the citizens of Georgia, the Southeast, and beyond by working tirelessly to prevent, treat, and cure cancer. 

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