President Obama names Olopade to National Cancer Advisory Board

John Easton
Senior Science WriterThe University of Chicago Medicine

President Barack Obama on Feb. 24 announced his intent to appoint Olufunmilayo Falusi Olopade, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics, Associate Dean for Global Health, and Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago, as one of five new members of the National Cancer Advisory Board.

Members of board advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Director of the National Cancer Institute with respect to the activities of the Institute, including reviewing and recommending support grants and cooperative agreements following technical and scientific peer review.

"These dedicated individuals bring a wealth of experience and talent to their new roles," said Obama. "I am proud to have them serve in this administration. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come."

A recipient of numerous professional honors and awards, including the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, ASCO Young Investigator Award, James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award and the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, Olopade is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a frequent lecturer in the United States and abroad and has been honored many times for her contributions to medicine.

Her research focuses on the interactions between genetics and environment in the onset of breast cancer, especially the genetic basis of breast cancer in young women of African ancestry in the U.S. and West Africa, and on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in women at high risk.

She is also a practicing physician and director of the University’s Cancer Risk Clinic. In her clinical work, Olopade is an authority on cancer risk and prevention, and on individualized treatment based on risk factors and quality of life.

She also works with doctors in her native Nigeria, and with government officials and drug companies across Africa, to improve education and treatment.

Olopade studied medicine in her Nigeria, where she earned an M.B.B.S. with distinctions in Pathology and Pediatrics from the University of Ibadan. After completing an internship in medicine, surgery, pediatrics and OB/GYN at the University College Hospital in Ibadan and serving as a medical officer at the Nigerian Navy Hospital in Lagos, she completed her residency and chief residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. Following that, she completed a post–doctoral fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of Chicago. She joined the faculty at the University in 1991.

Also named to the board were: Marcia Cruz–Correa, University of Puerto Rico; Kevin J. Cullen, of the University of Maryland; Jonathan M. Samet, of the University of Southern California; and Bill Sellers, of the Novartis Institutes of BioMedical Research.