Moffitt chief to lead genetic research lab unit

Posted: February 24, 2012 at 1:06 am

By MICHAEL SASSO | The Tampa Tribune
Published: February 23, 2012 Updated: February 23, 2012 - 12:00 AM


The man who served for the last decade as chief of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is leaving his post to lead Moffitt's genetic research lab and its new Personalized Medicine Institute.

The move is a new direction for Dr. William Dalton, rather than a promotion or demotion, he said. Dalton will focus on helping Moffitt capitalize on "personalized medicine" — finding ways to tailor cancer treatment to specific patients.

Dr. Alan List, a Moffitt executive vice president who leads its physicians group, will take over as Moffitt's chief executive officer in July.

"I just see it as a new journey for me at Moffitt," Dalton said.

A self-proclaimed "desert rat" from Arizona, Dalton came to Moffitt in 1997 to help lead its clinical research. He left for a spell in the early 2000s to lead the University of Arizona's medical school but returned to Moffitt in August 2002 as chief executive, a bio on Moffitt's website says.

Dalton has been very involved lately in Moffitt's innovative genetics lab, M2Gen, and his new post will let him focus on it even more.

M2Gen hasn't lived up to its promise, though. The lab has collected thousands of tumor samples in five years and studied their unique genetic makeup. Eventually, researchers may use the tumor research to find better treatments for cancer patients.

But it hasn't yet helped spawn a biomedical industry in Tampa, something civic leaders are counting on. Also, in November, M2Gen lost its second chief executive in two years.

Dalton insists the genetics lab has had a run of good news lately, persuading the drug giant Merck & Co. to continue as a partner for another year. Merck has been M2Gen's biggest financial supporter.

Two unnamed companies also signed deals with M2Gen to tap into its tumor research, Dalton said.

Aside from leading M2Gen, Dalton also will lead a new Personalized Medicine Institute at Moffitt, allowing him to get Moffitt's doctors and researchers more involved in M2Gen and personalized medicine.

Dalton is well-known in Tampa Bay-area business circles and is a member of an exclusive group of business leaders called the No Name Group. The group meets once a month at The Capital Grille in Tampa and other restaurants to talk community affairs.

People who have worked with Dalton praised his tenure as Moffitt's leader.

Robert Rothman, chairman of Moffitt's board, said it was Dalton's idea to switch to running M2Gen and personalized cancer care full-time.

"We concluded this is really a unique opportunity for the center," Rothman said. "We couldn't think of a better person to lead the effort than Bill."

Dalton negotiated a partnership with All Children's Hospital in the mid-2000s, where All Children's collaborates with Moffitt on pediatric cancer cases.

"Besides being a very good physician, he's also been a great person for us to work with," said All Children's President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Carnes.

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Moffitt chief to lead genetic research lab unit

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