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Barbara Burtness Named Interim Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Yale Cancer Center

June 22, 2021

Barbara Burtness, MD, Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology), has been appointed Interim Associate Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Yale Cancer Center.

“Dr. Burtness’ leadership and innovative ideas will ensure that we emphasize an inclusive culture, with increased diversity in our workforce—including trainees, staff, and faculty—and help to foster the career advancement of all members of our diverse community,” said Nita Ahuja, MD, MBA, FACS, Interim Director of Yale Cancer Center and Physician-in-Chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital, William H. Carmalt Professor of Surgery, and Chair of Surgery.

Burtness has a long track record of advancing equity at Yale School of Medicine and nationally. She has served on the Executive Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM) since 2015, represented SWIM on the Faculty Advisory Council, and served on the Dean’s Climate Working Group. Nationally, Burtness is the Chair of the Task Force on Advancement for Women for ECOG-ACRIN. In addition, she brings extensive personal experience to her new role from the successful mentorship of numerous trainees and faculty throughout her career.

“Dr. Burtness will help lead our community in implementing initiatives to enhance the culture of belonging at Yale Cancer Center, including programs and training in cultural and structural humility, stigma and discrimination, and sexual harassment,” added Ahuja.

Burtness joined Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital in 2014 from Fox Chase Cancer Center. At Yale, she leads the Disease Aligned Research Team for the Head and Neck Cancers Program at Smilow Cancer Hospital, is Co-Leader of the Developmental Therapeutics Research Program at Yale Cancer Center and leads a laboratory program studying synthetic lethal therapy for p53-mutated head and neck cancer.

An internationally recognized leader in the treatment of head and neck cancer, Burtness has chaired the ECOG-ACRIN Head and Neck Therapeutics Committee since 2006, pioneering biomarker-guided therapy and treatment deintensification studies in this disease. She has served on the NCCN and SITC Head and Neck Guidelines Committee, and the NCI Head and Neck Cancer Steering Committee. Burtness co-chaired the NCI Clinical Trials Planning Meeting on TP53-Mutated Head and Neck Cancer and co-chairs FDA Project 2025 for Head and Neck. She is the founding Director of the Yale Head and Neck Cancer SPORE and has led numerous clinical trials, including the international phase III trial which led to regulatory approval of immunotherapy in first-line treatment of head and neck cancer.

Submitted by Anne Doerr on June 22, 2021