A world-renowned surgeon has been named the new director of the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health

After an extensive national search, Diane M. Simeone, MD, has been named director of the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, effective April 1, 2024.

Simeone brings solid institutional, national and international leadership experience in both oncology patient care and research, with a focus on establishing new models of interdisciplinary collaboration. She is an internationally recognized expert surgeon in the field of biology and multidisciplinary treatment of pancreatic neoplasms, with an active clinical practice in pancreatic surgery.

Simeone is currently the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Surgery, Director of the Pancreatic Cancer Center, and Associate Director of Translational Research at NYU Langone Health Perlmutter Cancer Center. She has served as Chair of the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Let’s Win Pancreatic Cancer online community.

“It is an incredible privilege and honor to be chosen to lead the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center in the context of world-class patient care and scientific discovery,” Simeone said. “The opportunity to be able to help guide clinical and scientific innovation, increase access to early therapy through clinical trials, and train the next generation of clinicians and researchers is the opportunity of a lifetime.”

“The UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center is not only an asset to the university, but to our community and beyond. Dr. Simeone’s proven leadership will further elevate and expand our cancer center as an international leader in top-ranked patient care, research and teaching,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla.

Simeone previously served as president of the Society of University Surgeons and the American Pancreatic Association. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and a member of the Pancreatic Cancer Task Force of the National Cancer Institute and the NCI Cancer Centers Research Section.

She serves as the principal investigator and leader of Precision Promise, a national clinical trial consortium focused on next-generation clinical trials for pancreatic cancer patients. In addition, Simeone is the founder of the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection Consortium (PRECEDE), an international consortium created to promote early detection of pancreatic cancer. She has published more than 230 studies in leading peer-reviewed journals.

“Dr. Simeone has led to a transformation in cancer care by building a continuum between groundbreaking research and new therapeutic approaches to detect and treat cancer,” said John M. Carters, MD, vice chancellor for health sciences at UC San Diego. “She brings a wealth of experience and vision to her new role as director, and we are honored to have her join us.”

“The Moores Cancer Center at University Health San Diego is a beacon of hope for communities locally and nationally,” said Patty Meisent, CEO of University Health San Diego. “Dr. Simeone will help us continue our legacy of discovering and testing new therapies, exceeding the standards for life-saving, highly specialized care, and supporting our patients and their loved ones through life’s most difficult challenges.” Dr. Simeone’s combination of visionary leadership and experience positions her perfectly to lead this extraordinary institution and its bright future.”

As director of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, Simeone will serve as principal investigator of the Cancer Center’s grant support sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and will provide strategic intellectual leadership for the center’s research programs, administrative structure and pipeline multidisciplinary clinical services.

She will partner with academic and clinical leaders to guide cancer research and care in the health sciences, provide advice and consultation to campus- and university-level committees, and chair the executive committee of the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. She will also manage day-to-day operations, including scientific and educational programs as well as clinical programs – in collaboration with the center’s chief medical officer.

Simeone succeeds Joseph A. Califano III, MD, who announced in May 2023 that he would step down as director to return to his role as the Iris and Matthew Strauss Chair in Head and Neck Surgery at the Medical faculty at UC San Diego, and director of the Hanna and Mark Gleiberman Head and Neck Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health.

As an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health is among the top 4% of approximately 1,500 cancer centers in the United States and one of only 56 comprehensive cancer centers in the nation.

Approximately 25,000 patients are treated for cancer at UC San Diego Health annually. Patients have access to doctors who provide personalized care and set treatment standards across the country for more than 200 types of cancer. Patients also have access to clinical trials with a dedicated team that supports more than 200 open research studies.

According to 2023-2024US News and World ReportUC San Diego Health’s cancer program was ranked 20th in the nation by the “Best Hospitals” study.

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