As H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute's research subsidiary M2Gen continues to get its bearings, the board of directors hopes a leadership shuffle will help it achieve its goal of becoming a national leader in personalized cancer care.
Moffitt's board announced Wednesday that Alan List, 57, the center's executive vice president and physician in chief, will replace Bill Dalton as CEO in July. Thomas Sellers, director of the Moffitt Research Institute, will become director of the cancer center.
Dalton, 62, will become the new CEO of M2Gen and is tasked with expanding the operation nationally. He will be replacing previous M2Gen CEO Cathy Kerzner, who took a job with Nestlé in December.
For-profit M2Gen, a $35 million facility that houses a database of individual genetic information and cancerous tissue samples, helps physicians match patients with clinical trials offered by pharmaceutical partners.
Five years after its launch, its leaders have said it is still too early to determine how successful the endeavor has been for Moffitt, although they are optimistic about being able to expand its database into other states and medical diagnoses.
"If you do this right, the job is never done because you're continuously improving on what you've built," Dalton said.
The goal of the database is to provide better candidates for clinical trials, which are used to develop new cancer therapies. In theory, the database will help identify trial candidates more quickly, thus getting new drugs on the market faster.
However, that model is still unproven. For officials, priority number one is expanding the database and creating a genetic resource that no other cancer center in the country has.
New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant Merck renewed its multimillion dollar contract with M2Gen, and Moffitt is in the process of negotiating contracts with other companies as well, board director Robert Rothman said.
"Moffitt has accomplished an enormous amount for a young institution. … We really think our best days are ahead of us," Rothman said.
Key to building upon previous successes is the support and guidance of good leadership, which Rothman said will help make Moffitt and M2Gen national models in the fight against cancer.
Rothman said a "succession plan" was always in place to move List to the position of CEO after Dalton moved to M2Gen, of which he is founder and board director.
"We have a tremendous amount of confidence in Alan," Rothman said. "We felt like we couldn't really find a better candidate from a continuity standpoint and a capability standpoint."
Dalton, who recommended List to the board of directors to fill the position, said he wants Moffitt and M2Gen to be at the forefront of cancer research and genetic profiling.
"There's a great deal of optimism and enthusiasm, and we want to capitalize on our success to date," he said.