Luis A. Diaz, MD
Luis A. Diaz, MD, has been named Head of the Division of Solid Tumor Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Dr. Diaz most recently served as Associate Professor of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Diaz formally assumes the role as David Spriggs, MD, steps down after nearly 13 years.
Dr. Diaz is a physician-scientist with a special interest in cancer genetics and immuno-oncology. His work has involved the clinical development of tumor-derived DNA as a biomarker for cancer screening, early detection, monitoring, and measurement of early residual disease. In his new position, Dr. Diaz will maintain a clinical practice within the Gastrointestinal Oncology Service, in addition to expanding clinical programs and laboratory-based research efforts.
Pioneer in Cancer Genomics
Dr. Diaz has pioneered several diagnostic and therapeutic genomic approaches to cancer, and he specializes in the treatment of pancreatic and colorectal cancers. With colleagues, he developed the basis for a molecular Papanicolaou smear, a promising way to detect early-stage ovarian and endometrial cancers based on genetic markers.
He has also harnessed the power of cancer mutations as potent antigens and championed the use of checkpoint inhibitors in the treatment of patients with tumors that have exceptionally high mutational burdens. His landmark proof-of-principle study using programmed cell death protein 1 blockade in patients with mismatch repair deficiency showed dramatic responses in patients who had failed to respond to standard therapy, resulting in a Breakthrough Status designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Awards and Training
At Johns Hopkins, Dr. Diaz was Director of the Swim Across America Laboratory and a member of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Genetics and Therapeutics, as well as a member of the groups that received the 2013 American Association for Cancer Research Team Cancer Award for Pancreatic Cancer Sequencing; the 2014 Team Cancer Award for Malignant Brain Tumors; and the 2017 Team Cancer Award for the development of Liquid Biopsies in Cancer. Also in 2017, his team was awarded the Team Cancer Award for Colorectal Cancer. Dr. Diaz will spearhead Stand Up to Cancer’s (SU2C) Colorectal Cancer Dream Team, which has received up to $12 million in funding from SU2C.
“I am honored and thrilled to be leading such a brilliant group of clinicians and researchers here at MSK and to be taking the reins from Dr. Spriggs,” said Dr. Diaz. ■