Geoffrey Greene named chair of Ben May Department for Cancer Research

Geoffrey Greene named chair of Ben May Department for Cancer Research

September 3, 2013

Geoffrey L. Greene, PhD, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research at the University of Chicago, has been named chair of the Ben May Department for Cancer Research, effective Sept. 1, 2013.

An internationally recognized cancer researcher, Greene has had a profound impact on understanding the genesis, treatment and prevention of hormone-dependent breast cancer. He studies the molecular mechanisms by which female steroid hormones such as estrogen control development, differentiation, cellular proliferation and survival in hormone-responsive tissues and cancers. He developed immunoassays for estrogen receptors that are used throughout the world to determine the choice of therapy and prognosis for patients with breast cancer.

More recently, he has focused on triple-negative breast cancer, the role of micro-RNAs in cancer growth and metastasis, tumor heterogeneity and novel approaches to targeting therapy-resistant breast cancers.

"Geoffrey Greene is a direct scientific descendent of the founders of the Ben May Laboratory -- Charles Huggins, Elwood Jensen and colleagues," said Kenneth Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine. "These pioneering scientists created the field of hormones and cancer. They changed the way we think about many types of malignancy and provided new and effective ways to treat and prevent many hormone-driven tumors, a tradition that has expanded as the department has grown over the years.

"Geoff, who has served as the vice chair for the department since 2000, is well positioned to accelerate that growth and continue to expand the department's fields of interest."

Greene earned his BA in chemistry from the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, in 1969 and his PhD in organic chemistry from Northwestern University in 1974. He came to the University of Chicago as a postdoctoral trainee under Jensen's mentorship. He joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1980 and rose to professor in 1991. He also serves as a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and as associate director of basic sciences for the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In 2006, Greene was appointed co-director -- along with Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology -- of the Ludwig Center for Metastasis Research, one of only six such centers in the country.

"Geoff and Ralph have ambitious plans to expand the scope and depth of our Ludwig Center," Polonsky said. "This will be facilitated by his new role as chair of the Ben May Department."

Greene has authored or co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed publications. He has received prestigious awards for his research and serves on several national committees and journal editorial boards. He maintains an active role in teaching, having served as course director or lecturer over the past 25 years. He is also principal investigator for the University's Cancer Biology Training Grant, now in its 25th year.

In announcing Greene's appointment, Polonsky also acknowledged the contributions of his predecessor, Marsha Rosner, PhD, Charles B. Huggins Professor.

"Marsha's uncompromising commitment to scientific excellence and to the University of Chicago, plus her high scientific standards and taste have had a profound impact," Polonsky said. "Under her leadership, the Ben May Department has played a key role in basic biological research as well as in bridging basic cancer biology and translational research. Geoff will build upon the solid foundation that Marsha has laid."

The Ben May Department for Cancer Research was founded in 1951 with funds provided by philanthropist Ben May. It continues to receive generous support from the Ben May Charitable Trust. The work done by the collection of laboratories within the department has advanced cancer treatment by providing answers to fundamental biological questions and by finding applications for groundbreaking scientific discoveries.