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Winship Cancer Institute Leadership Team

Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD
Executive Director, Winship Cancer Institute
Associate Vice President, Cancer, Woodruff Health Sciences Center

Lawrence W. Davis Chair of Radiation Oncology

Dr. Curran is Executive Director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. He also serves as Associate Vice President, Cancer, Woodruff Health Sciences Center and as the Lawrence W. Davis Chair of Radiation Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine.  Before joining Emory, Dr. Curran was Chairman of Radiation Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

Dr. Curran is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Scholar, and principal investigator on several National Cancer Institute grants and is considered an international expert in the management of patients with locally advanced lung cancer and malignant brain tumors.  He has led several landmark clinical and translational trials in both areas and is responsible for defining a universally adopted staging system for patients with malignant glioma. He currently serves as Group Chairman and Principal Investigator of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), a National Cancer Institute-funded, clinical trials cooperative group, a position he has held since 1997. 

He has authored or co-authored more than four hundred abstracts and scholarly papers, as well as numerous presentations, reviews and book chapters.  He has been chairman or co-chairman of more than 40 clinical trials and a reviewer for twelve national/international journals.  He serves as the Founding Secretary/Treasurer of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and a Board Member of the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (GA CORE).  Dr. Curran is the only radiation oncologist to serve as Director of a National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Center. Dr. Curran was elected to the board of directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and his term begins in June 2014.

Dr. Curran is a Fellow in the American College of Radiology and has been awarded honorary memberships in the European Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology. In 2006, he was named the leading radiation oncologist/cancer researcher in a peer survey by the journal Medical Imaging.

Under Dr. Curran's leadership Emory's Radiation Oncology Department has been recently selected as a "Top Five Radiation Therapy Centers to Watch in 2009" by Imaging Technology News. This review recognizes the most forward-thinking, U.S.-based cancer treatment centers, which have adopted advanced technology to optimize treatment and make a difference in patient care. 

Dr. Curran graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College, received his MD degree from the Medical College of Georgia and is a Board Certified Radiation Oncologist. Curran completed his residency in the Department of Radiation Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center and his internship in internal medicine at Presbyterian University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia.    

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD
Deputy Director, Winship Cancer Institute
Professor and Chairman, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD, is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine. He also serves as Deputy Director for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Dr. Khuri holds the Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research. He is a Professor of Otolaryngology, Medicine, and Pharmacology, and Co-Director of the Winship Cancer Institute’s Cancer Drug Discovery, Development, and Delivery Program. 

Dr. Khuri earned his bachelor's degree from Yale University, in New Haven, CT, and his doctoral degree from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York, NY. He completed his residency in internal Medicine at the Boston City Hospital, Boston University School of Medicine. He then completed a fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the New England Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology and is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He was on faculty at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from 1995-2002 prior to joining Winship.

Dr. Khuri's clinical interests include thoracic and head and neck oncology. His research interests include development of molecular, prognostic, therapeutic, and chemopreventive approaches to improve the standard of care for patients with tobacco related cancers. His laboratory is investigating the mechanism of action of signal transduction inhibitors in tobacco related cancers.

Dr. Khuri is the recipient of numerous awards, including being listed among America's Top Doctors and the Marquis Who's Who in the World. He is the recipient of a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Clinical Scholar Award, serves on the editorial boards of 7 journals, including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research and Cancer, and has published over 100 peer reviewed articles in elite journals including Nature Medicine, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research and the Journal of Clinical Oncology. He has been the recipient of competitive, peer-reviewed federal grant support from the National Cancer Institute, Department of Defense, and American Cancer Society over the last decade. View an interview with Dr. Khuri discussing the Winship difference for lung cancer patients.

Diane G. Cassels, MS
Executive Administrator

Ms. Cassels is the Executive Administrator for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Ms. Cassels has oversight for clinical programs along with responsibility for research administration, academics, finances and strategic planning within Winship. She previously held positions as Chief Operating Officer for the Emory Children’s Center and Department of Pediatrics from 2002-2006 and Executive Administrator of the Winship Cancer Institute from October 2006-April of 2008.

Ms. Cassels is a certified member of the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE) and has been a board member of both the Society of Radiation Oncology Administrators and the Association of Academic Radiology and Radiation Oncology Administrators and the Association of Cancer Executives. She has also been a board member of the American Cancer Society and United Way and is currently on the board of directors for Camp Sunshine in Atlanta.   At Emory since 1992, she has more than 28 years in health care management experience. She has a master’s degree in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis along with certifications as a Radiologic Technologist and Radiation Therapist.

Paul W. Doetsch, PhD
Associate Director for Basic Research

Dr. Doetsch is Professor of Biochemistry, Radiation Oncology and Hematology & Oncology and is the Emory University School of Medicine Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research. For several years he served as Interim Associate Director for Basic Research and in January 2005 (following a National search) was named Deputy Director for Basic Research at the Winship Cancer Institute. Dr. Doetsch obtained his doctoral training in nucleic acids biochemistry in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Suhadolnik at Temple University School of Medicine. He then conducted postdoctoral work as a NIH NRSA recipient at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School in the laboratory of Dr. William Haseltine.

Dr. Doetsch came to Georgia in 1985 to join our Emory faculty where he engaged in basic cancer research. He has been associated with Winship Cancer Institute and the leadership and development of its scientific programs for many years. He is the Program Director of a Program Project Grant, “Cellular Responses to Genotoxic Stress” and has a long track record of RO1 grant support from the NCI. Dr. Doetsch has served in the past as a regular member of the Radiation study section at the NIH and the Carcinogenesis, Nutrition and Environment study section of the American Cancer Society. He is internationally recognized for his studies and publications in the areas of DNA damage repair, mutagenesis and genetic instability.

Over a decade ago, he discovered transcriptional mutagenesis and has been a pioneer in this area and its leading authority. He is the co-editor of a recent (2006) textbook, “DNA Damage Recognition” and has trained dozens of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows. He serves on several important Emory School of Medicine advisory committees, including the Research Advisory Council (RAC) and the University’s Computational Life Sciences Advisory Committee. 

Kimberly F. Kerstann, PhD
Associate Director for Research Administration

Dr. Kerstann serves as the Associate Director for Research Administration for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.  She was appointed to the role of Associate Director for Research Administration by Dr. Curran in October 2009 upon reorganization of the Winship Cancer Institute administrative team.  Prior to this appointment, Dr. Kerstann served as the Director of Research Projects for the Winship Cancer Institute. In this role she worked closely with faculty to develop biomarker driven protocols and research initiatives.  Before joining the Winship administrative team, Dr. Kerstann earned her PhD in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Emory University in 2003. Dr. Kerstann then completed Postdoctoral Fellowships, specializing in genetic epidemiology, at the National Human Genome Research Institute and then the National Cancer Institute from 2003-2006.  With 13 years of experience in biomedical research, particularly in the field of genetic epidemiology, she brings a depth of knowledge in the conduct of research, in addition to project and data management to the administrative team.  Dr. Kerstann’s time as a medical liaison for a major pharmaceutical company had allowed her to develop the business acumen necessary for an effective administrator. 

In her role as Associate Director for Research Administration, Dr. Kerstann is responsible for the oversight of research administration and the shared resources of Winship under the advisement of the Executive Administrator (Ms. Cassels) and the direction of the Executive Director (Dr. Curran).  In addition, Dr. Kerstann is responsible for the overall management of the Cancer Center Support Grant, which provides the Winship Cancer Institute with its NCI-designation.

Joseph Lipscomb, PhD
Associate Director for Population Sciences
Professor, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

Dr. Lipscomb is Professor of Health Policy and Management for the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.  He also serves as Associate Director for Population Sciences at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute and is a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar. Dr. Lipscomb was Chief of the Outcomes Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute from 1999 until arriving at Emory in 2004.  While at the NCI, he co-chaired the Cancer Outcomes Measurement Working Group, chaired the trans-agency Quality of Cancer Care Committee, and was NCI lead for a collaborative effort with the National Quality Forum to develop consensus measures of cancer care quality. 

Dr. Lipscomb’s numerous research grants include funding from the National Institutes of Health on reducing health care disparities in urban areas. He is also principal investigator on a grant from the Association of Schools of Public Health and the CDC to augment the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry with data to support comparative effectiveness research and quality-of-care assessments. He is a member of the Steering Committee for the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan, and he serves on national committees to improve cancer outcomes and quality at both the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer and the American Cancer Society.  He has also served as a member of the U.S. Panel on Cost-Effectiveness in Health and Medicine.   Dr.

Lipscomb earned his PhD in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  From 1975 until joining the National Cancer Institute, he was on the faculty at Duke University with primary appointments in the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Department of Community and Family Medicine.

Bassel El-Rayes, MD
Associate Director for Clinical Research

Dr. El-Rayes is Associate Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Emory University and has served as Director of the Winship Gastrointestinal  Oncology Program since joining Emory in 2009. His primary areas of clinical research interests are in clinical trials for patients with pancreatic, liver, or gastric cancers.   Prior to being named Associate Director for Clinical Research in 2012, Dr. El-Rayes served as Medical Director of Clinical Trials at Winship.

Dr. El-Rayes completed his medical school at the American University of Beirut (AUB). He subsequently joined the internal medicine residency program at Wayne State University. After completion of the residency, he joined the hematology oncology fellowship program at the Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University. He then joined faculty as an Assistant Professor in the area of GI oncology. During this time, he was involved in translational research focused on pancreatic cancer. Dr. El-Rayes joined Emory University in September 2009 as the director of the GI Oncology program. He is designated as a Distinguished Cancer Scholar by the Georgia Cancer Coalition. 


Deborah Watkins Bruner, RN, PhD, FAAN
Associate Director for Outcomes Research
Robert W. Woodruff Professor of Nursing, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

Dr. Bruner, a recognized international leader in cancer clinical trials and oncology nursing, serves as Associate Director for Outcomes Research at the Winship Cancer Institute, Professor in the School of Nursing and Professor of Radiation Oncology in the School of Medicine. She received her doctorate in nursing research, with a focus on outcomes research, at the University of Pennsylvania.  Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006, Dr. Bruner had been at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia for 16 years where she was the Director of Symptoms and Outcomes Research and Founding Director of the Prostate Cancer Risk Assessment Program.

Dr. Bruner’s research focuses on quality of life and symptom management across cancer sites as well as decision-making, preferences, and utilities for cancer care. Dr. Bruner also studies methods to eliminate health disparities in clinical trials recruitment.  She is best known for her pioneering leadership in outcomes and symptom research in the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG).  Dr. Bruner is the first and only nurse to lead an NCI national cooperative group, the RTOG Community Clinical Oncology Program (CCOP). She is also known for her leadership in the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in assisting setting priorities for symptom management and health related quality of life clinical trials.