George Weiner to step down as director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

George Weiner, MD, will be stepping down as director of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center so a new director can be in place to prepare and submit the competitive renewal of the next Holden NCI P30 Cancer Center Support Grant application that will be due in 2025. Weiner will continue to serve in his current capacity as cancer center director until a new director is appointed. The state of cancer research and care is truly now at an inflection point, and this transition provides us as an institution with the opportunity to forge a promising new future that aims to solve the most complex medical questions and deliver the most individualized care for our patients. Additional details on the search for a new director will be forthcoming.

George Weiner, MD

We are tremendously grateful for Weiner’s distinguished leadership of the cancer center for more than two decades. When Weiner was first appointed as interim University of Iowa Cancer Center director in 1998, the cancer center had just failed twice to obtain recognition as an NCI Designated Cancer Center. Soon after his formal appointment to lead the cancer center, it was renamed in recognition of a major commitment by the Holden family. Weiner led the cancer center to NCI designation in 2000, and Holden Cancer Center obtained the coveted “comprehensive” status soon after. It was the last cancer center to obtain both the primary and comprehensive designation from the NCI during the same cycle. Weiner subsequently led the cancer center to renewal as an NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2005, 2011, 2016, and 2021. During the most recent NCI review, the cancer center received an overall score of “outstanding,” and Weiner’s role as director as well as the cancer center’s efforts at interdisciplinary coordination, were rated as “exceptional.” More details on the cancer center’s achievements under Weiner’s leadership are outlined below.

Weiner’s success leading the cancer center has been acknowledged at the national level. He is a past chair of the NCI committee that reviews cancer centers, past president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes and currently chairs the external advisory boards of six other NCI-designated cancer centers. He also serves as an informal mentor to a number of cancer center directors.

After appointment of a new director, Weiner plans to remain on faculty as the Dr. C.E. Block Chair of Cancer Research and focus on his research efforts and other special initiatives.

Select highlights of Weiner’s tenure as director

The capabilities of the cancer center across its clinical, research, education, and outreach missions, and interactions among these missions, have evolved and expanded greatly during Weiner’s time as director. Examples include:

  • Oversight of remarkable growth in clinical cancer care including expansion of facilities, faculty, staff and integration of research and education into the clinical mission.
  • Establishment of a cancer-type approach to interdisciplinary cancer care and clinical research that included establishing Multidisciplinary Oncology Groups and disease-focused tumor boards.
  • Identification and support for emerging approaches to cancer therapy where the cancer center now serves as a national leader including cancer immunotherapy, cellular therapy, therapy based on free radical metabolism and theranostics.
  • Development and growth of a highly successful and rapidly growing clinical cancer research core with a particular focus on supporting early phase and investigator-initiated trials designed by our faculty.
  • Support for translational research including a reimagined, comprehensive approach to obtaining consent from patients, then procuring and providing tissue linked to clinical data to investigators.
  • Facilitation of programmatic cancer grants including P50s, P01s, and U grants.
  • Design and development of successful interdisciplinary programs within the university and with other institutions including Iowa’s Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program, the Big Ten Cancer Research Consortium, and the Iowa/Mayo Lymphoma SPORE.
  • Expansion of interactions with the community including establishment of the Iowa Cancer Consortium that is the official cancer control organization for Iowa.
  • Development of strong working relationships and integration of cancer researchers and leadership from multiple departments and colleges outside the Carver College of Medicine including the Colleges of Public Health, Pharmacy, Nursing, Dentistry, Engineering, and Arts & Sciences.
  • Establishment of a PhD Graduate Program in Cancer Biology and a broad range of educational programs enhancing the careers of those interested in cancer care and cancer research from “teens to tenure.”