University of Maryland Appoints Chief of General Surgery and Surgical Oncology

For immediate release: February 20, 2012

Contact:

Karen E. Warmkessel

kwarmkessel@umm.edu | 410-328-8919

Olson will advance Department of Surgery clinical and research programs, currently ranked 8th nationally in NIH funding

John A. Olson, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed the new Head of the Division of General and Oncologic Surgery within the University of Maryland Medical Center's Department of Surgery. Dr. Olson will also become the Campbell and Jeanette Plugge Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery in the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“Dr. Olson has a strong track record of research and curiosity for science,” says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for Medical Affairs at the University of Maryland and dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “I am confident he will be a key leader in our pursuit to become an even higher-ranked NIH-funded research department and lead us in worthwhile efforts to promote the advancement of science and medicine.”

The Department of Surgery is currently ranked eighth in NIH research funding out of more than 130 academic departments of surgery in the country.

“Dr. Olson has developed a highly ambitious vision for the growth of the clinical, scientific, and educational programs within general and oncologic surgery, specifically within endocrine surgery,” says Stephen T. Bartlett, M.D., Peter Angelos Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery. “With Dr. Olson's leadership we expect to further expand our strong scientific programs and increase collaboration with other surgical specialties across the department.”

Dr. Olson is a nationally respected surgeon-scientist who specializes in endocrine and oncologic surgery with an emphasis on cancer of the parathyroid glands, thyroid, and breast. His NIH-funded laboratory focuses on parathyroid disease, and he recently was awarded a NIH R01 grant to study molecular mechanisms of altered calcium sensing in human parathyroid disease. His clinical research interests include development of biomarkers for breast cancer and the study of aromatase inhibitor therapy to improve surgical outcomes for post-menopausal women with breast cancer.

In a study on neoadjuvant aromatase inhibitors sponsored by the American College of Surgeons Oncology group (ACOSOG) and published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in June 2011, a research team, co-led by Dr. Matthew Ellis at Washington University in St. Louis and by Dr. Olson at Duke University, found that half of the women in the study who were treated for four months with aromatase inhibitors were able to have breast-conserving surgery instead of mastectomy. Dr. Olson will continue to lead progressive research initiatives to address endocrine tumors and breast cancer in his new role at the University of Maryland.

“It's exciting to join a team of such dedicated researchers and to feel such institutional support for advancing science and translational medicine,” says Olson. “The University of Maryland is a place that clearly strives to advance medicine and improve patient outcomes, and I am eager to help cultivate continued growth in these areas. I look forward to developing strong programs in general and oncologic surgery at Maryland as we pursue even greater achievement in scientific discovery.”

Dr. Olson joins the University of Maryland from Duke University Medical Center where he was Chief of the Section of Endocrine, Breast, and Oncologic Surgery. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics from the University of Florida. He received his general surgery training at Washington University in St. Louis and completed a surgical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

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