Meet PALTOWN's Medical and Scientific Advisory Board

We are grateful to our MSAB members for donating their time and expertise to ensure that high quality scientific and medical information is provided for PALTOWN community members and through PALTOWN programs, and that external communications and collaborations reflect the same standard

Dr. Tanios Bekaii-Saab, Mayo Clinic

Dr. Tanios Bekaii-Saab, Mayo Clinic

Member, MSAB

Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD, FACP is a Professor of Medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program and Director of the Clinical Cancer Research Office for the Enterprise wide Mayo Clinic Cancer Center. He is also the Vice Chair and Section Chief for Medical Oncology for the Division of Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. He is the consortium chair for the ACCRU research Network and the clinical research co-lead for the MCCC transformation leadership team for the Mayo Enterprise. Additionally, Dr. Bekaii-Saab is the Mayo Clinic member for the NCCN Guidelines Steering Committee. Dr. Bekaii-Saab is currently the co-leader of the Hepatobiliary Cancer Sub-Committee of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and the Vice-Chair for the National Cancer Institute’s Hepatobiliary Task Force. He is also a member of the ASCO Scientific Program Committee for Colorectal and Anal Cancers.
Dr. Bekaii-Saab conducts clinical and translational research focused on developing anticancer agents for patients with gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Bekaii-Saab collaborates extensively with various scientists and industry partners to design and execute innovative clinical trials, including many first-in-human studies. Dr. Bekaii-Saab’s research includes a large focus on the incorporation of agents that target the multiple facets of cancer, including genetic and epigenetic drivers, as well as the feeding microenvironment and the immune milieu.
Dr. Bekaii-Saab has served as a reviewer for many high impact journals and sits on the editorial board of the prestigious Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Bekaii-Saab has authored or co-authored more than 500 peer reviewed publications, abstracts, and book chapters, including papers in such journals as Lancet, Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, JAMA, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Annals of Oncology, and Clinical Cancer Research.

Dr. Andrea Cercek, Memorial Sloan Kettering

Dr. Andrea Cercek, Memorial Sloan Kettering

Member, MSAB

I am a board-certified medical oncologist specializing in the treatment of patients with gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, particularly colorectal cancer (CRC), appendix cancer, and cholangiocarcinoma. My research is focused on the development of novel systemic and regional therapies, including approaches based on tumor genomics, with the goal of improving outcomes while minimizing treatment-related toxicities.
I am the founder and co-director of the Center for Young Onset Colorectal and Gastrointestinal Cancer. This clinic – the first of its kind in the world – is dedicated solely to the specific needs of people under 50 who have CRC or other GI cancers.

Dr. Leslie Cloud

Dr. Leslie Cloud

Director and Member, Medical/Scientific Advisory Board

I am a practicing physician and a proud volunteer in COLONTOWN.  I am a member of PALTOWN’s Board of Directors and its Medical and Scientific Advisory Board.

COLONTOWN is a resource unlike any other that I have encountered in my professional career or personal life.  COLONTOWN is not just another support group—it is a transformational online community that educates and empowers its members with accurate, up to date, evidence-based information about the management of all forms of CRC.  With input from leading CRC experts around the country and constant oversight from its cabinet and community leaders, COLONTOWN is a one-stop shop for education, information, emotional support, and camaraderie for the newly diagnosed, seasoned CRC veterans, and caregivers.

Dr. Cathy Eng, Vanderbilt

Dr. Cathy Eng, Vanderbilt

Member, MSAB

Cathy Eng, MD, FACP, FASCO, is Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Oncology, and the Co-Director of GI Oncology and Co-Leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Research Program at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. She also holds the David H. Johnson Endowed Chair of Surgical and Medical Oncology. Dr. Eng was previously a Professor of Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Her primary clinical research interests include clinical trials involving innovative drugs for the treatment of colorectal, anal, and appendiceal cancers. She has a specific interest in young colorectal cancer patients as well as the role of immunotherapy in HPV-associated cancers. She has published multiple publications in these GI malignancies. Dr. Eng currently has over 200 publications.

Nationally, Dr. Eng has served in multiple leadership roles for ASCO, ASCO GI, ECOG, and the NCI Rectal/Anal Task Force. She has most recently been chosen to serve as the Vice-Chair for the SWOG GI Committee and the NCI GI Steering Committee.

Dr. Sepideh Gholami, Northwell Health

Dr. Sepideh Gholami, Northwell Health

Member, MSAB

Dr. Gholami is a board-certified surgeon scientist with dual fellowship training in Complex General Surgical Oncology and Hepatopancreatobiliary Surgery. She has focused her efforts on building a multi-disciplinary liver surgery program with liver-directed therapies/regional therapies, including a hepatic artery infusion pump program in patients with hepatobiliary and metastatic malignancies.

As a translational clinical researcher, Dr.Gholami’s research explores hepatobiliary tumor genetics, immune profiling, mechanism of immunologic resistance, and tumor microenvironment with current studies utilizing an ex-vivo 3D tumor on a chip model to evaluate and test novel therapies in patients with colorectal cancer.

Dr. Gholami has assumed various leadership roles including multiple societies (AHPBA, SSO, ASCO) and is currently the co-Chair of SWOG’s colon cancer sub-committee and serves on the NCI Colon Cancer Task Force. Dr. Gholami has a vested interest in developing novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers through designing high impact clinical trials to improve patient outcomes in colorectal cancer with liver metastases.

Dr. Razelle Kurzrock, Medical College of Wisconsin

Dr. Razelle Kurzrock, Medical College of Wisconsin

Member, MSAB

Razelle Kurzrock, MD, is a world leader in precision medicine and immunotherapy. A board-certified medical
oncologist, practicing physician, and researcher, she serves as Associate Director of Clinical Research and of Precision Science and is the Linda T and John A Mellowes Endowed Chair of Precision Oncology at the  Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center. She is overseeing the development of a new Precision Medicine and Rare Cancers clinical initiative and assuming leadership of the cancer clinical trial
enterprise at the cancer center.
Dr. Kurzrock is best known for founding and chairing the largest Phase 1 clinical trials department in the world
while at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  She also established the Rare Tumor Clinical at the University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center, where she led both the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy and Experimental
Therapeutics Program.
Dr. Kurzrock has served as principal investigator on more than 100 clinical trials and brought oversight to more
than 500 early-phase trials, with many agents yielding FDA approvals.

Dr. Jonathan Loree, BC Cancer – Vancouver

Dr. Jonathan Loree, BC Cancer – Vancouver

Member, MSAB

Jonathan Loree is a GI medical oncologist at BC Cancer – Vancouver Centre with a clinical focus on colorectal cancer and neuroendocrine cancers. He completed his medical school and internal medicine training at the University of Alberta, his medical oncology training at the University of British Columbia, and subsequently completed a translational research fellowship at MD Anderson prior to returning to Vancouver. His research interests include translational research and biomarker development.

Dr. Nina Sanford, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Nina Sanford, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Member, MSAB

Nina Sanford, M.D., Assistant Professor and Chief of Gastrointestinal Radiation Oncology Service at UT Southwestern Medical Center, earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, followed by an internship in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a residency in radiation oncology at Harvard/Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Massachusetts General Hospital. She joined UT Southwestern’s Department of Radiation Oncology where she treats patients with gastrointestinal cancers, including the pancreas, liver and bile ducts, colorectum, anus, esophagus, and stomach.

Dr. Sanford is a member of a number of professional organizations, most notably the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Radiological Society of North America, and the American Society for Radiation Oncology.