Dr. Nancy Davidson is the senior vice president and director of the Clinical Research Division of Fred Hutch. She is also the president and executive director of the Hutch’s patient-care arm, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; and the professor and head of the Division of Medical Oncology of the University of Washington School of Medicine. In these roles in the Fred Hutch/UW Cancer Consortium, Davidson serves as a bridge builder across the cancer treatment, clinical, translational, basic sciences and public health research programs of consortium members Fred Hutch, UW School of Medicine, UW School of Public Health, Seattle Children’s and SCCA.
The oncologist and researcher has a reputation as a top opinion leader in the field of breast cancer biology and treatment and has authored editorials, commentaries and reviews to provide perspective for key research papers as well as critical areas in field. Her research has teased out the role of hormones in breast cancer growth and she has had a major impact on the development of new standards of care that exploit the Achilles’ heels of breast cancer cells.
Davidson’s team was the first to describe how the activity of one of the estrogen receptor genes is regulated by epigenetic factors that affect how the DNA code is read and eventually translated into proteins. She also has contributed foundational research to our understanding of how estrogen deprivation and other therapies trigger breast cancer cells to kill themselves through apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
Her lab studies paved the way for new clinical trials of drugs that exploit these pathways to kill breast cancer. She has also led several critical clinical trials that have advanced the care of breast cancer patients, for example, establishing a combination chemotherapy and hormone therapy regimen for premenopausal women with the disease.
As a clinician, Davidson provides care to men and women with breast cancer. For Davidson, having served as both a researcher and a clinician is a powerful way to ensure that her research is solving real patient concerns, and to bring science to bear to improve the care of her patients.
Before coming to the Fred Hutch/UW Cancer Consortium in 2016, Davidson was the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, a position she held since 2009. Prior to joining the Pitt faculty, she served as the Breast Cancer Research Professor of Oncology and founding director of the Breast Cancer Program at Johns Hopkins. She is a member of the scientific advisory boards for many foundations and cancer centers. A member of the National Academy of Medicine, she is a past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and current president of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Her many awards, honors and appointments include: receiving the seventh Rosalind E. Franklin Award for Women in Science from the National Cancer Institute (2010), election to the National Academy of Medicine (2011) and Association of American Physicians (2010) and being listed among Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researchers (2014-2015).