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July 13, 2006

Lichter to leave Medical School for post at American Society of Clinical Oncology

After 22 years at U-M, Lichter to serve as ASCO's chief executive officer, effective late October

ANN ARBOR, MI – Allen S. Lichter, M.D., dean of the University of Michigan Medical School and the Newman Family Professor of Radiation Oncology, has announced he will be stepping down as dean on July 31, leaving the U-M faculty on Sept. 30. Effective late October, he will become Executive Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which is based in Alexandria, Va.

Allen S. Lichter“Serving as dean of this outstanding Medical School for the past seven and a half years has been the most exciting and rewarding experience of my career,” Lichter says. “Yet directing ASCO represents an exciting new challenge for me, one that I am eager to undertake. It takes me back to my roots in oncology, while offering the prospect of fresh opportunities and issues to tackle.”

Lichter has served as dean of the U-M Medical School since May 1, 1999, after serving as interim dean from Dec. 1998. He was chair of the U-M Department of Radiation Oncology from 1984 to 1997. He also served as director of the Breast Oncology Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center until 1991. Prior to his arrival at U-M in1984, Lichter was the director of the Radiation Therapy Section of the National Cancer Institute's Radiation Oncology Branch.

“That a medical society of international renown is interested in seeking Allen Lichter’s guidance is not surprising. It is never easy to lose a great leader like Allen, but I feel proud that one of our own has been tapped for such a far-reaching position,” says Robert P. Kelch, M.D., U-M's executive vice president for Medical Affairs.

“It is an understatement to say that ASCO’s Board of Directors is thrilled to have Dr. Lichter join ASCO in this capacity,” says Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, M.D., FACP, president of ASCO.  “When we began our search nearly a year ago, we couldn’t have imagined a more ideally-suited candidate for the position.  Dr. Lichter is one of the most well-regarded oncologists in the world.  He has served ASCO in numerous capacities over the years, and his personal commitment and dedication to the mission of the organization speaks for itself.”

Lichter has accomplished much during his time as Medical School dean:

  • Introduction of a new curriculum – one of the first in the nation that puts students in patient care settings earlier and emphasizes better communication skills so they are prepared to deal with an increasingly diverse patient population. Lichter has already formed a team to begin work on an innovative curriculum that will meet the needs of tomorrow’s medical student through content and delivery changes.
  • Collaboration – he saw the power of collaboration and encouraged it through joint efforts with other U-M schools – creating new partnerships or enhancing those that already existed.
  • Funding for research – in the face of dwindling dollars from the National Institutes of Health, Lichter and his team have ensured continued strong funding through the recruitment and retention of stellar faculty researchers whose influential science is garnering support.
  • Fundraising – Lichter has been a prolific fundraiser in support of the Medical School’s mission. For example, while dean, more than 70 endowed professorships were established, with Lichter personally presiding over 43.
  • Facilities for research and education – Lichter has had great forethought on facilities planning to meet the burgeoning and changing needs of U-M researchers and educators. For example, a 470,000 gross-square-foot Biomedical Science Research Building opened in Feb. 2006 and houses more than 100 investigators.

Lichter is internationally known for his research in the treatment of breast cancer. While at the NCI, he was an early advocate of the lumpectomy or breast conserving approach to the treatment of breast cancer and conducted one of the trials that found the use of lumpectomy and radiation therapy to be as effective as the traditional treatment of mastectomy. This work, along with other trials conducted in the United States and Europe, led to a revolution in modern breast cancer treatment standards, emphasizing breast preservation. Lichter is an acknowledged expert in the area of breast cancer, having written numerous scientific papers on the subject.

Teresa Sullivan, U-M provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, together with Kelch, are assembling a team to conduct a national search to fill Lichter’s position. An interim dean will be selected shortly.

Written by Mary Beth Reilly

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