Moffitt reorganization, new Dalton role up ante on business of fighting cancer war
Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center subsidiary M2Gen, shown above, has helped create the world's largest, cancer-focused biorepository (fancy talk for a gigantic freezer of cancer tumors) that should get more attention in a new leadership reorganization. (Photo courtesy of M2Gen)
Updated to clarify new roles for Bill Dalton and Thomas Sellers.
Wake up and good morning. New jobs and new leadership priorities announced by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Centersuggest there's a refocusing under way at the center to throw more resources at the increasingly competitive business of "personalized" medicine that leverages the genetic make-up of individual patients in their treatment.
Moffitt shuffled its top leaders Wednesday, with longtime CEO Bill Dalton (photo, left) stepping aside to help start and serve as director of the new Personalized Medicine Institute -- a creation Moffitt says is "aimed at making a national impact on the war on cancer" -- while also taking on the role of CEO of M2Gen, Moffitt's for-profit biotech subsidiary. Taking Dalton's place as CEO of Moffitt is Alan F. List (photo, below right), who joined Moffitt in 2003 and serves as executive vice president and physician in chief. And Thomas A. Sellers (photo, below left) will become center director of Moffitt Cancer Center. (Dalton previously served as both CEO and center director.) The changes take effect in July.
It's early to interpret these shifts, especially Dalton's move after running Moffitt for a decade and becoming one of the medical heavyweights in this region. Officially, Moffitt's press release quotes board chairman Robert Rothman, head of the financial investment Black Diamond Group, saying Moffitt is building a national model.
"The time is now because cancer research and treatment is at an inflection point that requires the right mix of visionary leadership and collaboration to realize the promise of personalized cancer care for patients everywhere," Rothman stated. He went on to say that the potential for M2Gen and the notion of personalized medicine is so great that it requires the attention of someone with a leadership track record like Dalton's. Here's Moffitt's press release on these matters.
No question, these moves seem smart and well timed. I'd also suggest that Dalton is stepping in to provide more horsepower at M2Gen after several years when the biotech subsidiary seemed to operate with a tentative agenda and, as this Tampa Tribune story notes, did not deliver on its promise to build more of a biomedical industry in this area.
M2Gen's first CEO, Jim Utterback, seemed to simply disappear from the company one day. His successor, Cathy Kerzner, had stepped in as interim chief when Utterback left and simply took the reins of M2Gen until she left for a job at Nestle. Through these recent years, M2Gen's future seemed a bit vague because the business was a joint venture with the drug company Merck, which had been funding a good portion of M2Gen.
Dalton's arrival as CEO seems to clear the air for M2Gen, sending a message that it is here to stay and expand its role. Recently, Moffitt unveiled a new partnership to explore personalized medicine opportunities with Orlando's Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute and Florida Hospital. Read more in this Orlando Sentinel story.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times