Internationally renowned physician, scientist and breast cancer expert Ben Ho Park, MD, PhD, Cornelius Abernathy Craig Professor of Medicine and deputy director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC) in Nashville, Tennessee, has been named the center’s new director, effective July 1. Dr. Park succeeds longtime VICC director Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, B.F. Byrd Jr. Professor of Oncology and Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Dr. Park was recruited to Vanderbilt in 2018 from the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and was named VICC’s deputy director in 2021. He holds multiple leadership roles within VICC, including serving as director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology and director of Precision Oncology. VICC is a nationwide leader in personalized cancer care and is at the forefront of promising new therapies. The VICC offers patients access to more than 350 clinical trials at any given time through a team of more than 200 physicians. VICC is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and is one of 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.
With a specialty in male breast cancer research and clinical care of men with breast cancer, Dr. Park is an esteemed and valuable member of the Male Breast Cancer Global Alliance Medical Advisory Board and has been an invited keynote speaker at the organization’s Annual Conference multiple years. He has published widely on the genetics of male breast cancer as well as reviews regarding the clinical management of men with this disease. “Men have a 100-fold less incidence of breast cancer than women, but although relatively rare, this still represents thousands of lives that are diagnosed each year in the United States,” says Dr. Park. “Many therapies for men with breast cancer are based upon studies conducted in women with breast cancer, and so is usually derived from the extrapolation of these data. Today, thanks to advocates, physicians and other health care providers and researchers, men are no longer excluded from breast cancer clinical trials and there are several initiatives to perform studies on male breast cancer exclusively.” Dr. Park has lent his expertise for these studies and continues to advocate for more research into male breast cancer.
Known for his overall expertise in breast cancer, Dr. Park’s research team identified a high frequency of PIK3CA mutations in breast cancer that led to the development of PI3K inhibitors, approved for breast cancer by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2019, and helped pioneer cell-free DNA “liquid biopsies” that use mutations as diagnostic tools to guide therapies. His work, including the generation of genetically modified cell lines, has been widely cited, and requests for his cell lines have led to important discoveries by other investigators. In addition to this work, he has made fundamental contributions to the field of drug resistance, including hormone therapy resistance.
Dr. Park’s research is supported by funding from the National Cancer Institute, a division of the National Institutes of Health; the Avon Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and Susan G. Komen. He has been the recipient of numerous foundation awards including the V Foundation, American Cancer Society, the Elsa U. Pardee Foundation and the Department of Defense, and has been named a Komen Scholar. He has authored or co-authored more than 170 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters, and has numerous inventions and holds four patents related to his research. Dr. Park was recently inducted as a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, serves as an associate editor on the Journal of Clinical Investigation, has served on the editorial board for the journal Cancer Research, and is Associate Editor for Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.