Recruitment, New Collaborations & Partnerships Highlight Dr. Candace Johnson’s First Year Leading Roswell Park

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Successful recruitment and retention efforts, new collaborations with regional partners and setting the stage for new clinical and scientific initiatives have all marked Dr. Candace Johnson's first year as President & CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

Dr. Candace Johnson, Roswell Park Cancer Institute

We are taking the organization in a new direction.

Successful recruitment and retention efforts, new collaborations with regional partners and setting the stage for new clinical and scientific initiatives have all marked the last 12 months at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI). Exactly one year after she was appointed President and CEO of the nation’s oldest cancer center, Candace S. Johnson, PhD, outlined the many accomplishments of her first year at the helm of the Institute, proudly detailing a center poised to take advantage of opportunities for further growth and reach new heights of achievement.

“We are taking the organization in a new direction,” Dr. Johnson announced today at a presentation entitled Roswell Park 2016: Positioned for Growth. “With a new focus and a renewed commitment to excellence through teamwork, we will be taking Roswell to the next level. Stay tuned — the best is yet to come!”

By the numbers, it has been a year of success and high performance at Roswell Park. In the year since Dr. Johnson was appointed, outpatient visits are up 6 percent, overall operating revenues are up 7 percent, revenues from clinical activity are up 13 percent, and the numbers of new patients turning to the Institute for the first time are up 21 percent.

Recruitment & retention

It has also been a year of change and strategic repositioning, with 18 outstanding recruits joining Roswell Park from other employers and 16 existing Roswell Park team members being promoted to new roles.

Recruited to Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Dr. Johnson’s tenure were 16 new faculty members and two administrators:

  •     Marc Ernstoff, MD, Senior Vice President for Clinical Investigation & Chair of the Department of Medicine. Dr. Ernstoff joins Roswell Park from the Cleveland Clinic, where he served as Director of the Melanoma Program at the Taussig Cancer Institute.
  •     Kara Kelly, MD, Chair of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, professor of oncology and the Waldemar J. Kaminski Endowed Chair of Pediatrics. Dr. Kelly, who was recruited from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons/Columbia University Medical Center, will head the joint pediatric hematology-oncology program operated collaboratively at Roswell Park, the John R. Oshei Children’s Hospital, the University at Buffalo (UB) and UBMD Pediatrics.
  •     Sai Yendamuri, MD, FACS, Chair of the Department of Thoracic Surgery. Dr. Yendamuri, who returns to RPCI from a leave of absence spent overseas, is also a Professor of Oncology, an Attending Surgeon and Director of the Thoracic Surgery Laboratory at Roswell Park.
  •     Dean Tang, PhD, Chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Dr. Tang, whose recent research has focused on prostate cancer, joins RPCI from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
  •     Amy Case, MD, Clinical Chief of the Department of Supportive & Palliative Care. Dr. Case was most recently a faculty member in the Department of Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
  •     Clare Twist, MD, named to the new position of Director of Pediatric Experimental Therapeutics, coming to us from Stanford University School of Medicine
  •     Gurkamal Chatta, MD, Clinical Chief for Genitourinary Medicine, has joined Roswell Park from the Cancer Institute at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle.
  •     Srinevas Reddy, MD, Director of the Liver and Pancreas Tumor Center, has come to us from Virginia Piper Cancer Institute in Minneapolis
  •     Kazuaki Takabe, MD, PhD, Clinical Chief of the Breast Program, joining RPCI from the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University
  •     Robert Bies, PhD, Director of the Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics Program, joining Roswell Park from Indiana University
  •     Fumito Ito, MD, PhD, Staff Physician and Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Department of Surgical Oncology and the Center for Immunotherapy. Dr. Ito came to Roswell Park from the University of Michigan Health System.
  •     Michael Bax, MD, a Mohs surgeon appointed to the Department of Dermatology, joins us after completing a fellowship at the University of Michigan.
  •     Stephen Edge, MD, FACS, who will serve as Vice President for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy, returns to Roswell Park from Baptist Cancer Center in Memphis, Tenn.
  •     Anthony Fernando, PhD, MBA, RPh, has joined Roswell Park as Executive Director of Pharmacy Services. Dr. Fernando was most recently with the Rochester Regional Health System.
  •     Matthew Buas, PhD, who will serve as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control, joins Roswell Park from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
  •     Jan Nowak, MD, PhD, most recently on staff at NorthShore University Health System in Evanston, Ill., joined Roswell Park as Clinical Chief of Molecular Pathology and Chief Medical Officer of OmniSeq LLC.
  •     David Donovan, Executive Director of Corporate and Collaborative Initiatives, joins RPCI from Independent Health Association Inc.
  •     Errol Douglas, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, previously on staff at the University of Miami, was named Vice President of Human Resources Management.

Among the 16 existing Roswell Park faculty/staff members promoted to new positions, four were appointed in senior leadership roles:

  •     Victor Filadora, MD, MS, MBA, who was named Chief of Clinical Services, and Boris Kuvshinoff II, MD, MBA, who was promoted to Chief Medical Officer, have been charged with creating a clinical care operation that provides a five-star patient experience and an increase in operational efficiencies.
  •     Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, FRCOG, FACOG, a longtime faculty member and founding Executive Director of Roswell Park’s Center for Immunotherapy, is responsible for enhancing the research and development function in all Roswell Park science programs in his new role as the Institute’s Deputy Director.
  •     In his new role as Chief of Strategy, Business Development and Outreach, Thomas Schwaab, MD, PhD, a busy clinician and surgeon who continues to care for patients with kidney cancer, is forging new pathways so that Roswell Park services and expertise are available beyond the Institute’s main campus.

Dr. Johnson’s strategic administrative repositioning also saw nine clinical staff members named to new leadership roles as academic chairs or clinical chiefs of their programs:

  •     John Kane III, MD, FACS, was promoted to Interim Chair of the Department of Surgical Oncology
  •     Francisco Hernandez-Ilizaliturri, MD, was promoted to Clinical Chief of Lymphoma
  •     Eunice Wang, MD, was promoted to Clinical Chief of Leukemia
  •     Brahm Segal, MD, was promoted to the new position of Chief of Faculty Leadership
  •     Mary Reid, PhD, MSPH, was promoted to the new position of Director of Cancer Screening & Survivorship
  •     Christine Ambrosone, PhD, was promoted to Senior Vice President of Cancer Prevention and Control
  •     Charles LeVea, MD, PhD, was promoted to Vice Chair of the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
  •     Sebastiano Battaglia, PhD, was promoted to Assistant Professor of Oncology in the Center for Immunotherapy and the Department of Cancer Genetics
  •     Ermelinda Bonaccio, MD, was promoted to Clinical Chief of Breast Imaging

Also promoted to new roles within Roswell Park were:

  •     David Tear, MBA, who joined RPCI in 2014, to the new position of Executive Director of Ambulatory Services, a role in which he will spearhead an ambitious redesign of Roswell Park’s ambulatory care program
  •     Laura Krolczyk, who joined the Institute’s staff in 2010, to the new position of Director of State Relations
  •     Dale Henry, who joined Roswell Park in 2011, to the new position of Chief Scientific Operations Officer

New collaborations

Also announced at the Roswell Park 2016 event today were two new collaborations with regional partners — a clinical care partnership with Buffalo Medical Group P.C. and a public health/community education initiative with Buffalo’s National Hockey League franchise, the Buffalo Sabres.

While Roswell Park and BMG have worked closely together for years, the new partnership will see gynecologic oncologists from Roswell Park’s staff seeing patients at BMG’s Orchard Park location, 3900 North Buffalo Road, and two of BMG’s medical oncologists will be providing care to patients at Roswell Park. Both elements of this groundbreaking collaboration will translate to better access to care and integration of care for cancer patients.

The new collaboration between Roswell Park and the Buffalo Sabres focuses on expanding efforts to reduce cancer risk among hockey fans and audiences. The partnership, which establishes Roswell Park Cancer Institute as the official and exclusive comprehensive cancer center of the Buffalo Sabres, will raise awareness of cancer prevention, risk reduction and early detection through both educational messaging and will create opportunities for cancer screening through free public events, the first of which will be held March 24, 2016, at First Niagara Center. The partnership will also generate funds supporting cancer research and patient care programs at Roswell Park through such promotions as “Hockey Fights Cancer,” which raised more than $35,000 this past October.

“We are always looking for opportunities to do what we do better and help more people by partnering with other outstanding organizations, and our new collaborations with Buffalo Medical Group and the Buffalo Sabres are a terrific way to meet both goals,” notes Dr. Johnson.

(See separate Roswell Park press releases also issued today for additional details about these collaborations: “Partnership Between Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Buffalo Medical Group Expands Access to Oncologists,” “Buffalo Sabres, Roswell Park Unite to Inspire Cancer Cures.”)

Future initiatives

Dr. Johnson also highlighted a few major initiatives that her team will be focused on in the coming year:

  •     The opening this spring of the Clinical Sciences Center, a building adjacent to the main Roswell Park hospital that is the first new construction on the Roswell Park campus in nearly a decade and will enable a significant expansion of clinical care activities, supportive programs for cancer survivors and cancer screening capacity
  •     The launch of a new strategic planning process that will shape the future of every department and every function across the Institute
  •     The opening of new clinical trials including landmark studies expected to launch within the Roswell Park Center of Immunotherapy and Center for Personalized Medicine
  •     The expansion of the OmniSeq personalized medicine testing platform, in collaboration with RPCI spinoff company OmniSeq LLC
  •     Implementation of the first funds from The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation’s landmark 2015 donation in support of quality-of-life programs at Roswell Park

“When Dr. Candace Johnson agreed to take the role of Roswell Park President and CEO on in a permanent capacity, we were especially excited to see what she could do because we’d already seen the difference she made and the change she effected in her short time as interim CEO,” says Roswell Park Board of Directors Chair Michael L. Joseph. “A year later, we are still excited about what’s to come and energized even more about the new feeling that’s emanating from this new leadership team and throughout the Institute. Roswell Park is poised to reach new heights under Dr. Johnson, and we look forward to seeing that promise turn into reality.”


The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, RPCI is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email askrpci(at) Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

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