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O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB Welcomes New Leader

I Barry Sleckman, M.D., Ph.D.


n November 2019, Barry Sleckman, M.D., Ph.D., was named director of the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. Sleckman, formerly associate director of the Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine, is a world-renowned researcher who focuses on understanding how DNA double strand breaks are generated and repaired—a topic important for cancer and immune system development and function. He began his new role at UAB in January 2020. “UAB is a phenomenal institution and a rapidly growing research powerhouse, fueled in part by the more than 400 talented physician-scientists and researchers at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center,” Sleckman says. “Their groundbreaking research and treatments have far-reaching and transformational impact on cancer research and patient care in Alabama and beyond every day. It’s an honor to have an opportunity to lead a cancer center that is recognized as among the nation’s best. We will continue the work to achieve the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center vision to eliminate cancer as a major public health problem. To do this, the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center must catalyze important cancer discoveries across diverse centers, departments and schools on the UAB campus and then translate these discoveries into innovative cancer therapies in close partnership with the UAB Health System.” Sleckman is poised to take the newly named O’Neal Cancer Center to the next level. “The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center provides a tremendously positive impact on Birmingham, our state and the Southeast, and Dr. Sleckman will continue to build upon our established research and clinical capabilities and help us meet the challenges all cancer centers face — specifically the way we can best serve our communities and compete in the marketplace,” says Selwyn Vickers, M.D., senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine. “I am excited Dr. Sleckman sees that the pieces are in place for the O’Neal Cancer Center to continue to grow its impact on Alabama, the Deep South, and the country, and that he will lead our efforts.” Sleckman completed his M.D. and Ph.D. in immunology at Harvard Medical School. He completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in infectious diseases at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. After completing his postdoctoral training in molecular immunology in the laboratory of Dr. Frederick Alt at Boston Children’s Hospital, Sleckman started his own laboratory in 1998 as an assistant professor in the Department of Pathology and Immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine. In addition to his role as associate director of the Meyer Cancer Center, Sleckman held positions as professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and professor of microbiology and immunology at Weill Cornell Medicine. Prior to that he was associate director of the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University for 10 years. He moved to Weill Cornell in 2015. The O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB is one of the original eight National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. It is among the nation’s leading cancer research institutions and one of only 51 NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers. It has been continuously funded for 47 years.

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