Physicians Hall Front

Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center Leadership Team Grows with Focus on Community, Innovation, Diversity and the Next Generation Cancer Workforce

Milwaukee, Feb. 22, 2024 – The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Cancer Center recently appointed four new leaders to its team who each bring specialized expertise to key areas of the center’s strategic investments, including Community Outreach and Engagement, Cancer Research Training and Education, plan for Equity and Diversity, and technology Shared Resources. Together, their collective appointments reflect MCW’s larger commitment to forging impactful collaborations between community members and scientists and ensuring equitable access to the highest quality cancer care for patients.

“We are taking bold steps every day to deliver on our vision of eradicating cancer in Wisconsin,” said Gustavo Leone, PhD, Director of the MCW Cancer Center, Dr. Glenn R. and Nancy A. Linnerson Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and Senior Associate Dean of Cancer Research. “These leadership appointments elevate the strength of our workplace as an empowering environment for people from varying disciplines and all walks of life to come together to advance breakthroughs in cancer discoveries.”

New MCW Cancer Center Leadership Appointments

Staci Young, PhD, joins the MCW Cancer Center as Associate Director of Community Outreach and Engagement. In this role, Dr. Young leads the team responsible for advancing community-engaged clinical, research and policy initiatives that extend the Cancer Center’s reach with underresourced groups and improve access to cancer prevention, life-saving clinical trials and survivor support groups.

A medical sociologist, Dr. Young also holds the MCW Cancer Center Research Scholar Endowed Chair and brings more than 25 years of experience in community-based research and advocacy. In addition to her leadership role at the Cancer Center, Dr. Young maintains her current MCW positions as Director and Senior Associate Dean for Community Engagement; the inaugural Faculty Director for the ThriveOn Collaboration; Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine; Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity; and Director of the Center for Healthy Communities and Research. Dr. Young’s leadership across MCW, ThriveOn and the Cancer Center will create important synergies for advancing health equity in collaboration with the broader Wisconsin community.

Janet Rader, MD, assumes the role of Associate Director of Cancer Research Training and Education Coordination. Dr. Rader is a gynecologic oncologist, a National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded research investigator, and the Jack A. and Elaine D. Klieger Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at MCW. She is highly regarded for her dedication to mentorship and increasing diversity in medicine, having devoted more than 30 years to training faculty, staff, residents, fellows, undergraduates, and medical students in cancer research. For example, she currently co-leads MCW’s Student-centered Pipeline to Advance Research in Cancer Careers (SPARCC), previously funded by NCI, to prepare undergraduates from diverse backgrounds for careers in cancer care and research.

Dr. Rader has also served on numerous national committees, including NCI’s The Cancer Genome Atlas Pilot Project Steering Committee and Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee – Cervical Cancer Task Force, as well as continues to serve the MCW community on several leadership groups such as the Executive Committee of the Faculty; Clinical Chairs Committee; Research Mentoring Committee; Research Cores Executive Oversight Board; and Senior Academic Leadership Committee. She has nearly 200 scientific publications, and currently serves on the editorial boards of Cancer Genomics & Proteomics and Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Rader was honored in 2020 by the American Association for Cancer Research with the Team Science Award for her contributions to The Cancer Genome Atlas project and is named on the U.S. News & World Report Top Doctors list.

Lisa Sanchez-Johnsen, PhD, MS, joins the MCW Cancer Center as its inaugural Associate Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging. Dr. Sanchez-Johnsen is a clinical psychologist; Professor in the MCW Institute for Health and Equity and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine; and an MCW Research Scholar Endowed Chair. She also serves as Director of the Multicultural, Diversity and Latinx Health Equity Research Program at MCW and the Director of the Multicultural Health, Obesity and Cancer Health Equity Research Scholars Program.

Dr. Sanchez-Johnsen is nationally recognized for her contributions to health equity and multicultural and Hispanic/Latinx health. She brings more than 30 years of experience conducting research and clinical work with groups experiencing health inequities. In her leadership role, Dr. Sanchez-Johnsen ensures equity, diversity and inclusion are integral parts of the Cancer Center’s culture and are celebrated through its people, processes, research and strategic investments.

Francesca Marassi, PhD, first joined MCW as Chair of the Department of Biophysics in 2022. In her new role as Associate Director of Shared Resources at the Cancer Center, Dr. Marassi oversees the state-of-the-art equipment, technology and expertise that enable Cancer Center investigators to conduct advanced research.

Dr. Marassi’s expertise as a researcher, mentor, professor and now MCW eminent scholar includes more than 30 years studying the experimental and computational aspects of biomolecular nuclear magnetic resonance. Dr. Marassi has participated in more than 100 invited lectures, workshops and presentations, both nationally and internationally. She has also served on the editorial boards of high-impact journals, including Molecular Membrane Biology and Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences.

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