PHILADELPHIA — D. Gary Gilliland, MD, PhD, has been named the inaugural Vice Dean and Vice President for Precision Medicine, a newly created role to position Penn Medicine as the nation’s top leader in the delivery of individualized medicine.

Dr. Gilliland, a cancer genetics expert and pioneer in the development of targeted therapies, will synthesize Penn Medicine’s research and clinical care initiatives across all disciplines to create a national model for the delivery of precise, personalized medicine to patients with diseases of all kinds. He will work with the institution’s top leaders in cancer, heart and vascular medicine, neurosciences, genetics, pathology, and many other specialties.

“We are proud to be among the first institutions in the country to create a position to oversee the tremendous opportunities and challenges that face us as our physicians and scientists work to hone the promise of the burgeoning and exciting field of precision medicine,” says J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine. “Dr. Gilliland’s experience as a leader in both academic medicine and the pharmaceutical industry will help Penn Medicine forge a roadmap for the most effective and efficient ways to conduct research and deliver care in this new field.”

The establishment of the new role builds on such existing Penn Medicine efforts as the Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics and the newly launched Center for Personalized Diagnostics.

“Penn Medicine already has a strong base in this new field, and Dr. Gilliland’s background and accomplishments will provide experienced leadership to take us to the next level of excellence,” says Ralph W. Muller, Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pennsylvania Health System. “No matter what it’s called – precision medicine, personalized medicine, or individualized medicine – this extremely promising approach will better equip physicians to match the most effective treatment to each patient’s specific disease.”

Gilliland joins Penn Medicine from Merck, where he was recruited in 2009 as Senior Vice President of Merck Research Laboratories and Oncology Franchise Head, following a long career at Harvard Medical School. At Merck, he was responsible for end-to-end research and development of its Global Oncology Programs. He oversaw first-in-human studies, proof-of-concept trials, and Phase II/III registration trials, and managed all preclinical and clinical oncology licensing activities.

Prior to joining Merck, Gilliland was a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School for nearly 20 years, where he served as Professor of Medicine and a Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology. He was also an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Director of the Leukemia Program at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, and Director of the Cancer Stem Cell Program of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. He saw patients at numerous top Boston hospitals, serving as an attending physician in the Bone Marrow Transplant Service of Children’s Hospital; attending physician in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and senior attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. 

As an investigator studying hematologic malignancies, Gilliland made seminal discoveries that have contributed to the understanding of the genetic basis of leukemias and other cancers that affect the blood and bone marrow. He has worked to help apply these findings into the development of new investigational cancer treatments, including molecularly targeted therapies, and has advanced this research into all phases of clinical development. 

His work has earned him numerous honors, including the William Dameshek Prize from the American Society of Hematology, the Emil J. Freireich Award from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and the Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award from the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He is an elected member of the America Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Physicians.

He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his M.D. from the University of California, San Francisco. He completed his internship and residency, including serving as Chief Medical Resident, at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School. He completed his Hematology and Medical Oncology training at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, respectively.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.