HOUSTON ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced that Donna Hansel, M.D., Ph.D., has been named Division Head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. A distinguished pathologist, researcher and leader, Hansel will join MD Anderson Sept. 12.
Hansel will lead a team of 650, including more than 130 clinical and research faculty, across four departments that serve as a bridge between basic research, translational research and clinical care at MD Anderson. The Division of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine plays an essential role in MD Anderson’s mission by providing high-quality patient data to guide clinical care, by managing transfusions and blood products for hundreds of patients daily, and by conducting cutting-edge multidisciplinary research.
“After a thorough national search, we are pleased for Dr. Hansel to join MD Anderson and to share her wealth of experience with our community,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “She is an exceptional leader with strong academic and professional skills, and she is a model of our core values — all essential traits that will serve her and our institution well as she leads this critical team.”
Hansel currently is professor and chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland. In this role, she has significantly expanded the number of departmental faculty, grown the sub-specialization of anatomic pathology and re-established previously outsourced microbiology lab services, which positioned the department to become a key partner in Oregon Health Authority’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She currently oversees more than $46 million of state funding for research and services, including epidemiologic surveillance, wastewater testing, genomic sequencing and surveillance, testing of K-12 schoolchildren, and testing and outreach in underserved and disproportionately affected communities.
At OHSU, Hansel also led the construction of a digital pathology and informatics core, established multidisciplinary research initiatives, created subspecialty anatomic pathology fellowship programs and popularized medical student programs in pathology. These efforts resulted in the tripling of grants and contracts revenue, the doubling of submitted research manuscripts and a dramatic increase among OHSU medical students’ applications to pathology residencies.
“I am thrilled to join MD Anderson as Division Head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine,” Hansel said. “It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to work with so many outstanding faculty, trainees and staff within the division and across the institution. I look forward to supporting excellence in the division and to growing innovative new programs to advance our efforts to eliminate cancer.”
Hansel began her career at the Cleveland Clinic, where she rose from assistant professor of Anatomic Pathology to associate professor in four years, with joint appointments at associated cancer centers and genomic and urologic institutes. She later joined the faculty at the University of California San Diego as professor and chief of the Anatomic Pathology division. During her tenure at these institutions, Hansel led system-wide efforts to improve access for those with disabilities, to increase support for working mothers, to address gender equity issues and to establish wellness and spiritual and emotional care services for students, staff and faculty.
“Dr. Hansel has distinguished herself as a researcher, a leader and an advocate for diversity and wellness throughout her career,” said Welela Tereffe, M.D., chief medical executive. “We are delighted that she will bring this same commitment to MD Anderson, working to advance Pathology and Laboratory Medicine while ensuring an inclusive and equitable workplace for all.”
Hansel earned her medical and doctoral degrees from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as part of the Medical Scientist Training Program. She completed her clinical training there as well, including a residency in Pathology, a clinical fellowship in Genitourinary Pathology and a postdoctoral fellowship in Pathology-Gastrointestinal Pathology. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Pathology and Genetics from Erasmus University in the Netherlands.
Hansel has subspecialty clinical expertise in urologic pathology, including bladder, prostate, kidney and testicular cancer. Her laboratory research focuses on identifying targetable pathways in advanced bladder cancer with a strong emphasis on mTOR signaling and novel downstream targets that are involved in cell motility and invasion. This research has been translated into clinical practice, impacting World Health Organization (WHO) and American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) categorization and staging changes in bladder cancer. Her work has led to more than 160 articles in peer-reviewed publications. She has been an author on six textbooks and written 19 book chapters. She serves on the editorial boards of several professional publications and is Deputy Executive Editor of the journal Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine.
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