World-Renowned Surgeon Named New Director of Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health

Diana M. Simeone, MD, has been named the new director of Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health.

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

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

Simeone currently serves as the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor of Surgery, director of the Pancreatic Cancer Center, and the associate director of translational research at Perlmutter Cancer Center at New York University Langone Health. She 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 for the Let’s Win Pancreatic Cancer online community.

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

“UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center is not only an asset to the university, it’s an asset 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 the 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 National Cancer Institute’s Pancreatic Cancer Task Force and the NCI’s Cancer Centers Study Section.

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

“Dr. Simeone has driven transformation in cancer care by building a continuum between groundbreaking research and new therapeutic approaches for cancer detection and treatment,” said John M. Carethers, MD, vice chancellor for health sciences at University of California San Diego. “She brings a wealth of expertise and vision to her new role as director and we are deeply honored to have her join us.”

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

As director of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, Simeone will serve as the principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored Cancer Center Support Grant and will provide strategic intellectual direction for the center’s research programs, administrative structure and multidisciplinary clinical service line.

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

Simeone succeeds Joseph A. Califano III, MD, who announced in May 2023 that he would be stepping down as director to return to his role as the Iris and Matthew Strauss Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Head and Neck Surgery at UC San Diego School of Medicine, 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, 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 physicians who provide personalized care and are setting treatment standards nationwide 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.

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