The Kansas University Cancer Center has tapped Karen Kelly, a lung cancer expert from the University of Colorado, to take its No. 2 seat as deputy director.
"I am truly excited about the opportunity that is here at KU and for cancer patients," Kelly said. "There's just so much potential."
Kelly recently worked as director of the Clinical Thoracic Oncology Program and professor of medical oncology at the University of Colorado Cancer Center.
Kelly, an expert in lung cancer, also will have the title of professor and Frank B. Tyler Chair in Cancer Research. Her salary is $300,000.
"We see her as a real visionary and someone who came here because they believe they can make a difference," said Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center Director.
KU has set the goal to gain federal "cancer center" designation, a status that would make the Lawrence and Kansas City, Kan., campuses eligible for additional federal funding and access to cutting-edge drugs for patients.
Kelly is the second of three Tyler professorships that KU will fill as it pursues its cancer goals.
The first was filled by Scott Weir, whom KU named director of the center's Office of Therapeutics, Discovery and Development in March.
The third position, which will focus on medicinal chemistry and be based at the Lawrence campus, has yet to be filled.
"We are indeed fortunate to attract an internationally recognized clinical oncologist like Dr. Kelly to help us build our program and achieve NCI (National Cancer Institute) designation," Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of the medical center and executive dean of the KU School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement.
A native of Derby, Kelly received her medical degree from KU and went on to complete her residency and fellowship at CU's Health Sciences Center.
Kelly plans to develop a comprehensive lung cancer program as well as a clinical and research program. She hopes to expand patient involvement in clinical trials so area patients can access new cancer drugs.
"As a Kansas native, I not only have an inherent understanding of the people the University of Kansas Medical Center serves, I also have a strong desire to contribute to improving the health and quality of life of my fellow Kansans," she said.