Barry Paul Sleckman, MD, PhD
Barry Paul Sleckman, MD, PhD, a well-known cancer researcher who focuses on understanding how DNA double-strand breaks are generated and repaired—a key topic for cancer and immune system development and function—has been named Director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Currently Associate Director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, Dr. Sleckman will begin his new role at UAB in January 2020. Ravi Bhatia, MD, who has served as Interim Director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center, will resume his role as Deputy Director of the Center and Director of the Division of Hematology-Oncology.
“UAB is a phenomenal institution and a rapidly growing research powerhouse, fueled in part by the more than 400 talented physician-scientists and researchers at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center,” Dr. Sleckman said. “Their ground-breaking research and treatments have far-reaching and transformational impact on cancer research and patient care in Alabama and beyond every day. It’s an honor to have an opportunity to lead a cancer center that is recognized as among the nation’s best.”
Dr. Sleckman’s research has revealed many novel pathways that function in DNA double-strand break repair, including one that prevents DNA breaks from being resolved as chromosomal translocations or deletions that can lead to cancer. In addition, his laboratory was reportedly the first to show that the cellular response to DNA double-strand breaks can regulate cell-type–specific pathways involved in normal cellular functions. These pathways can be disrupted, for example, in patients with cancer who are receiving genotoxic therapies such as radiation.
“The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center provides a tremendously positive impact on Birmingham, our state, and the Southeast, and Dr. Sleckman will continue to build upon our established research and clinical capabilities and help us meet the challenges all cancer centers face,” said Selwyn Vickers, MD, Dean of the School of Medicine.
Dr. Sleckman completed his MD and PhD in immunology at Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in infectious diseases at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In addition to his role as Associate Director, Dr. Sleckman held positions as Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine, and prior to this, Associate Director of the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University for 10 years.
After completing his postdoctoral training in molecular immunology in the laboratory of Dr. Frederick Alt at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Sleckman started his own laboratory in 1998 as Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine. He moved to Weill Cornell in 2015.
“Dr. Sleckman is an excellent choice to lead the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and continue to advance the great strides we have made in cancer treatment and prevention in the past several decades,” said Will Ferniany, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the UAB Health System.