Chair of the Department of Pathology and the Carolyn Wingate Hyde Endowed Chair of Cancer Research*
Last post: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

A pathologist who specializes in breast cancer, Charles V. Clevenger, M.D., Ph.D., was drawn to take the post as chair of the Department of Pathology because of its tradition of clinical excellence. “It was attractive to me that it’s already an outstanding clinical department that has strong leadership across the board, so I can focus on building up other areas like research, translation and outreach,” he says.

Joining the medical school also gave Clevenger the opportunity to reunite with a valued colleague: Dean of Medicine Jerry Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D. “He was an informal mentor to me back when we were both on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine,” Clevenger says. “I developed a high level of trust and respect for him there, and we kept in touch over the years.”

Prior to arriving on the MCV Campus in August, Clevenger was the Diana, Princess of Wales Professor of Cancer Research in the Department of Pathology at Northwestern University. There he led an NIH-funded translational research program on women’s cancer and was the co-leader of the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Research Laboratories.

This article by Jennifer Uscher first appeared in the fall 2013 issue of the Dean’s Discovery Report.

His research focuses on prolactin, a hormone that stimulates breast development and milk production in women and can also stimulate the growth of breast cancer. Clevenger led his research team in making key discoveries about prolactin’s role in the growth and spread of breast cancer.

Now he is developing novel therapies aimed at blocking either the release or the function of prolactin to stop it from promoting growth and metastasis. These therapies include repurposing well-known drugs, such as Cabergoline and Cyclosporine A, both of which are now being examined in phase I and II trials in patients with breast cancer.

In addition to continuing these investigations and recruiting students and postdocs to join his lab, Clevenger says he hopes to help expand the ongoing basic research efforts in the Department of Pathology with an emphasis on cancer biology. “I’m looking forward to building both the department and my lab and collaborating with the faculty, staff and students,” he says.

Currently, Clevenger serves as a member of the editorial board for Breast Disease, and in 2003 he received the Pfizer Outstanding Investigator Award from the American Society for Investigative Pathology.

*expected academic investiture in fall 2013