MUSC Welcomes New Director of Surgical Oncology
The Medical University of South Carolina welcomes Kevin F. Staveley-O’Carroll, M.D., PhD, an esteemed surgeon specializing in tumors of the liver, pancreas and foregut and Past President of the Association for Academic Surgery, as its new Chief of Surgical Oncology. He joins MUSC from Pennsylvania State University, where he served as Chief of the Section of Surgical Oncology and built a large and successful clinical program in tumors of the liver, pancreas and foregut. As a physician-scholar interested in developing immunotherapeutic approaches to the tumors he treats clinically, he was attracted by the twin commitment of MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center, one of only 67 National Cancer Institute–designated centers in the nation, to multidisciplinary patient care and to the basic and translational research needed to find a cure for cancer.
Dr. Staveley-O’Carroll plans to build a strong clinical program in liver, pancreas & foregut tumors at MUSC, one that will complement the existing strengths of the Digestive Disease Center in pancreas transplant and the treatment of chronic pancreatitis. He plans to recruit additional specialists and to establish a multidisciplinary clinic for metastatic colon cancer, which he considers a curable disease with chemotherapy and surgery in 25%–50% of patients. That clinic would provide new options and state-of-the-art treatment for patients with primary or secondary tumors in the liver or secondary tumors in the lung. He is also working to establish one of only 17 hepatobiliary fellowships in the country at MUSC, training the surgeons of tomorrow in the management of these tumors.
A noted tumor immunologist, he will also be assuming leadership roles in research, serving as the Program Leader for Tumor Immunology at Hollings Cancer Center and as Director of Cell Evaluation and Therapy, in which roles he will work closely with David Cole, M.D., Chair of Surgery, and Zihai Li, M.D., PhD, Chair of Microbiology & Immunology, to further leverage the hypersterile conditions of MUSC’s Clean Cell Facility to develop immunotherapeutic approaches to treating cancer. Like Dr. Cole, he works with dendritic cell vaccines and adoptive T cell transfer in his research (see January 2013 issue of Progressnotes for a more detailed explanation of these approaches), and his recruitment further solidifies MUSC as an important center for such research. He has created a mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that very closely mimics the progression of HCC in humans. From that model, he learned that HCC turns off the T cells that should be recognizing and attacking the cancer and discovered that the US Food & Drug Administration–approved agent sunitinib can prevent it from doing so. He is working with Melanie Thomas, M.D., Associate Director of Clinical Investigations at Hollings Cancer Center, to develop a phase 1 clinical trial. Participants would be treated with sunitinib first to break the tolerance (ie, the ability of the cancer to “hide” from the T cells), followed by a dendritic cell vaccine combined with an adoptive T cell approach. Together with Dr. Cole and Dr. Li, he hopes to develop a program project grant to foster the further development of these innovative immunotherapeutic strategies.
Dr. Staveley-O’Carroll, who has done previous research on ceramide nanoliposomal particles in animal models, is also hoping to collaborate with Besim Ogretmen, PhD, Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and his group on their currently funded program project grant and to work toward developing clinical trials of these particles in patients with liver or pancreatic tumors.
The recruitment of Dr. Staveley-O’Carroll is a boon to South Carolina, as he will not only provide cutting-edge treatment for patients with tumors of the liver, pancreas and foregut but will also train the surgeons of tomorrow and help lay the groundwork through his research for the next generation of anti-cancer therapies.