Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS
President, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Co-Leader, Center for BRCA Research
Senior Vice President for Cancer Services, UCSF Health
Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine
E. Dixon Heise Distinguished Professor in Oncology
Alan Ashworth began his role as President of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Francisco, in January 2015, coming to UCSF after having served as Chief Executive of the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, United Kingdom.
In 1999, he was appointed the first Director of the Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre where he was also Professor of Molecular Biology and leader of the Gene Function team. The Centre is now recognized as one of the leading Breast Cancer Centres internationally and has more than 120 scientists and researchers working on aspects of the disease ranging from basic molecular and cellular biology through to translational research and clinical trials. Dr. Ashworth’s Directorship ended in January 2011 when he was appointed Chief Executive of the ICR.
A translational biologist and laboratory researcher, Dr. Ashworth’s research focuses on understanding breast cancer genetics and applying what he learns to change the way patients are treated. He was a key part of the team that identified the BRCA2, a breast cancer susceptibility gene, which is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer. Ten years later, Dr. Ashworth discovered a way to kill off BRCA1- and 2-related tumor cells by treating them with PARP inhibitors, which amplifies the damage caused by the broken DNA repair machinery in those cells. Dr. Ashworth’s research aims to identify genes and proteins that can be targeted with drugs to destroy breast tumor cells the goal being to enable clinicians to better identify new therapy options for breast cancer patients.
Dr. Ashworth is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Association (EMBO) and the Academy of Medical Sciences as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has been the recipient of a number of scientific prizes and awards including The European Society of Medical Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award, the David T. Workman Memorial Award of the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation, and the Meyenburg Foundation’s Cancer Research Award, and he was the inaugural winner of the 2013 Basser Global Prize. He was also recently selected as the recipient of the 2015 Genetics Society Medal.
Pamela Munster, MD
Professor of Medicine
Co-Leader, Center for BRCA Research
Program Leader Developmental Therapeutics
Director, Early Phase Clinical Trials Program
Pamela Munster received her medical degree from the University of Bern, Switzerland and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at Indiana University Medical Center. She then moved to Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York for her oncology and hematology fellowship. She served at Memorial Sloan Kettering as a faculty member in the breast cancer program before joining the Division of Breast Oncology and Experimental Therapeutics Program at Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, Florida. Dr. Munster led the group as the Scientific Director of Breast Research and Co-Chair of the Phase 1 Program at Moffitt for six years prior to joining the University of California in San Francisco. Currently Dr. Munster is Professor in Residence at the University of California, San Francisco, where she is also the Director of Early Phase Clinical Trials Program at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Program Leader of Developmental Therapeutics.
Her basic laboratory research interests are in the area of developing novel targeted therapies for the treatment of treatment-resistant cancer and their integration into current treatment strategies. Dr. Munster’s research interest involves basic research studies on epigenetic modification of DNA repair and therapy resistance. Her laboratory is involved in several projects testing HDAC inhibitors, reverse hormone therapy resistance in breast cancer, and re-engaging immune defense. Dr. Munster’s clinical research interests are in the area of early anti-tumor drug development with focus on drugs that target the mTOR, P13k pathways and the epigenetic regulation of immune response to therapy. In addition to her interest in drug development, Dr. Munster has a special interest in germline cancer mutations.
Dr. Munster has published in numerous scientific journals and has given lectures on topics such as the management of metastatic breast cancer, breast cancer receptors, clinical trials and translational research.
Mallika Dhawan, MD
Medical Oncologist, Center for BRCA Research - Hereditary Cancer Clinic
Dr. Mallika Dhawan is a medical oncologist specializing in the treatment of patients with hereditary cancer mutations.
In addition to caring for patients, she designs clinical trials in the Developmental Therapeutics and genitourinary oncology programs focused on patients whose tumors have mutations in DNA repair. She has an interest in cancer prevention as well as developing novel therapeutics for patients with advanced cancers.
Dr. Dhawan grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area before heading to UC San Diego for her undergraduate training in biomedical engineering. She remained at UC San Diego for medical school and later completed internal medicine training at Duke University. She returned to the Bay Area for her fellowship in oncology at UC San Francisco where she is now a clinical instructor and post doctoral fellow with the PRESCIENT program (Precision Health Science training program).
Outside of work, Dr. Dhawan enjoys spending time with her family and her husband, Mandar Aras (who is completing his cardiology fellowship at UC San Francisco).
Pagan Morris, MPH
Program Manager, Center for BRCA Research
Pagan Morris received her Master of Public Health – Community Health Education from San Jose State University. She has a strong background in program and project management as well as extensive experience managing cancer research projects. Pagan has worked at UCSF, with the Neuroepidemiology Division on adult glioma, breast and lung cancer studies, as well as at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, where she managed studies across multiple sites in California and Guatemala. Her previous experience in program and project management for different kinds of cancer and among diverse patient populations informs the development of the clinical and research mission for the Center for BRCA Research.
Vivian Matsutsuyu, MA
Research Analyst, Center for BRCA Research
Vivian Matsutsuyu received her MA from Mills College and came to UCSF with a wealth of project and account management experience. She has worked in support of the Phase 1 Program as well as coordinated meetings and seminars for the Developmental Therapeutics Program, Melanoma and other programs. Her work as a Research Analyst will build on this experience and aid in the successful development of the Center.
Kelly Williams, NP
Nurse Practitioner, Center for BRCA Research - Hereditary Cancer Clinic
Kelly Williams received her Master of Science in nursing with a specialty focus in the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at Columbia University School of Nursing. She is board certified as a family nurse practitioner through the American Nurse’s Credentialing Center. Prior to joining UCSF, she practiced primary care in a community clinic in Northern California, where she encouraged disease prevention and health promotion. Her interests in early detection and prevention and in helping patients to understand and navigate their diagnoses are well aligned with the goals of the Hereditary Cancer Care Clinic.