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Sandler Named Chair of Radiation Oncology

Developing efficient clinical research model tops list of priorities

Helping create "a nimble, flexible research environment" in Cedars-Sinai's Department of Radiation Oncology is a goal of Howard Sandler, M.D.

Dr. Sandler started Oct. 20 as chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute. He came to Cedars-Sinai after nearly 20 years at the University of Michigan.

"Although I would have been perfectly happy to stay in Ann Arbor, I thought it would be a good time in my life to explore new opportunities," he said, referring to his youngest daughter graduating from the University of Michigan. "Both my wife and I were free - both true empty nesters."

His interest in Cedars-Sinai was piqued by another physician with ties to Michigan - Keith L. Black, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute.

"He convinced me to come and take a look," Dr. Sandler said of Dr. Black.

Dr. Sandler also said he was drawn by Steven Piantadosi, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.

"His reputation encouraged me to come here," he said. "I thought it was a sign of the hospital's dedication to clinical research."

That is one area he'd like to see Cedars-Sinai continue to develop. Specifically, Dr. Sandler points to creating an "efficient model" for clinical research.

"If a clinician here has an idea, it's my hope that we can make the time frame from having that idea to starting a clinical trial relatively short," he said.

Among his current work, he is the principle investigator on a clinical trial evaluating adjuvant chemotherapy's role in locally advanced prostate cancer. His trial will likely be the first to reach its accrual goal. He also has a paper coming out in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on the role of surrogate markers in prostate cancer.

Dr. Sandler developed his interest in fighting prostate cancer under the mentorship of Gerald Hanks, M.D., a renowned expert in the field. Dr. Sandler also specializes in other genitourinary cancers, brain tumors and skin cancer.

He eventually hopes to work with Dr. Black and other members of the Department of Neurosurgery on research into fighting brain cancer.

"I've really been impressed with the people here at Cedars-Sinai," Dr. Sandler said of his fellow department chairs.