John E. Niederhuber, MD, joined Inova as executive vice president and CEO of Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) in September 2010. As founder and leader of ITMI, he directs a program that integrates technical innovation, informatics and sophisticated genomic analyses with the goal of managing disease risk and delivering excellence in individualized (personalized) healthcare, research and education. Within his first year at Inova, he initiated the ITMI Preterm Birth Study. This study involves the whole genome sequencing of over 1000 families (mother, father & baby) with over 350 families having a preterm delivery. Dr. Niederhuber launched the Fairfax County Longitudinal Childhood Cohort study involving 5,000 families in summer 2012. There are more than 2,500 families already enrolled. As a result, ITMI manages over 8,000 whole genome sequences in its extensive information analysis system and specimen biobank. These families are followed through birth and at six month intervals thereafter. ITMI has several other genomic studies in progress all involving whole genome sequencing of family trios. ITMI has grown to over 80 employees and has developed clinical services in molecular diagnosis and clinical consultation in a CLIA-certified laboratory and through its physician-led Division of Medical Genomics.
Dr. Niederhuber is the former director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health, having been named to that position in 2006 by President George W. Bush. Before assuming the NCI directorship, he chaired the National Cancer Advisory Board and was chief operating officer of the Institute. During his tenure as NCI director, Dr. Niederhuber implemented many changes and despite successive years of less than inflation appropriations managed to initiate important new programs that helped shape the nation’s investment in cancer research to address areas that are likely to pay large health dividends. He began The Cancer Genome Atlas, an effort to comprehensively identify the genomic changes in all major cancer types and subtypes. In addition to genomic studies of cancer and work in cancer immunotherapy, programs in nanobiology, systems biology, investigations into the tumor microenvironment, cancer initiating cells, and subcellular imaging benefited under his leadership. Recognizing that greater than 85 percent of cancer patients are cared for in their local communities, Dr. Niederhuber established the NCI Community Cancer Centers program to bring more patients into clinical trials, reduce healthcare disparities, and implement electronic medical records in cancer care. In an effort to bring other scientific disciplines such as physicists and mathematicians together with cancer biologists to work on cancer, Dr. Niederhuber developed the funding for eight university centers that comprised the Physical Sciences in Oncology Program.
He managed the NCI with more than 5,000 employees, over 2 million square feet of space and an annual budget of over $5 billion. He administered allocation of $1.2 billion provided under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. He was the first NIH Institute director to increase intramural research by utilizing a unique lease-back construction project for NCI’s Advanced Technology Research Facility in Frederick, MD. He oversaw the successful negotiation of the new contract with SAIC, Inc. to run the government-owned contractor-run (GoCo) research campus at NCI-Frederick. This federally funded research and development contract is the only one in the United States devoted solely to biomedical research.
Dr. Niederhuber is recognized by his peers as a visionary leader in oncology. Throughout his academic career, he held full professorial appointments in a basic science department where he maintained NIH-funded research and a clinical department where he practiced surgical oncology. In addition, he served in a number of academic leadership positions. His colleagues have acknowledged his leadership and accomplishments by electing him vice president and president of the Society for Surgical Oncology and president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes. He has served as a member of C-Change, a community of executives from government, business and the nonprofit community dedicated to conquering cancer, including two terms on the executive board. He also served a term as a member of the CEO Roundtable on Cancer. Dr. Niederhuber is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, recognizing his outstanding scientific accomplishments and commitment to service in health sciences.
While at NCI, Dr. Niederhuber ran his own research program in the Laboratory of Tumor and Stem Cell Biology in NCI’s Center for Cancer Research. His research focused on factors in the tumor microenvironment, in particular those involving cancer activated fibroblasts (CAFs) that lead to increased malignancy.
As a surgeon, Dr. Niederhuber’s clinical focus has been on gastrointestinal cancer, hepatobiliary (liver, bile duct, pancreatic and gallbladder) cancer and breast cancer. Recognized for his pioneering work in hepatic artery infusion chemotherapy, he was the first to demonstrate the feasibility of totally implantable vascular access devices which dramatically changed the administration of systemic chemotherapy.
He has given over 350 professional presentations and published over 250 peer-reviewed articles or book chapters as well as editing or co-editing 9 books. He currently serves as managing editor for Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology, 5th edition, published by Elsevier Inc. He serves as a director on the boards of publicly-traded biotechnology companies.
Prior to joining the NCI, Dr. Niederhuber was director of the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center and a professor of surgery and oncology (member of the McArdle Laboratory) at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine. Earlier in his career, he chaired the Department of Surgery at Stanford University and held professorships at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and at University of Michigan. A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Dr. Niederhuber is a graduate of Bethany College in West Virginia (receiving an honorary doctorate in 2007) and The Ohio State University School of Medicine. He trained in surgery at the University of Michigan and in immunology at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.