Lawrence native joins KU Cancer Center team

The newest administrator helping Kansas University in its quest to achieve National Cancer Institute designation has his roots in Lawrence.

Andrew Godwin, a Lawrence native, had been working at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, one of the nation’s oldest NCI-designated cancer centers.

He said he was glad to return home to become the KU Cancer Center’s associate director of translational research. Godwin said he’s happy to be closer to his family, and to help contribute to the institution where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in cell biology.

“I think that there’s a lot of energy and a lot of buzz going on here,” Godwin said.

Godwin is a graduate of Lawrence High School, and his parents, Dr. Phil and Phoebe Godwin, still live in Lawrence.

He went on to the University of Pennsylvania, and eventually became the first person to move from a graduate student at the Fox Chase cancer center to a full professor with tenure.

His specialty involves developing tests to determine if a particular drug will work on a specific patient or tumor.

Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said Godwin’s hiring filled a necessary vacancy.

“With our emphasis on drug discovery and development, one of the legitimate criticisms of our effort to this point was that it has not been paired with a molecular diagnostics effort,” Jensen said. “Hiring Andy, that criticism is no longer valid.”

Godwin also had been funded by 23 different funding sources while in Philadelphia, Jensen said. While not all of those sources will transfer to KU, he is part of a handful of recent hires who have pushed the KU Cancer Center to about $12 million in NCI-funded research.

That’s ahead of the $11 million the center had hoped to secure by the time it applies for designation next fall, Jensen said.

The center is still looking to hire two key posts — a director of hematology and oncology, and a director of the center’s new Phase I clinical trials facility in Fairway, Jensen said.