Senior Leadership

Cheryl L. Willman, MD

Cheryl Willman, MD

Cheryl Willman, MD

The Maurice and Marguerite Liberman Distinguished Endowed Chair in Cancer Research
Director and Chief Executive Officer, UNM Cancer Center
Distinguished Professor, Department of Pathology and Internal Medicine

Trained at Mayo Medical School, the National Cancer Institute, and UNM, Dr. Willman is an internationally known leukemia researcher. After discovering new leukemia-causing mutations in Hispanic and American Indian children, her team has identified more effective therapies which are being tested in national clinical trials. With UNM Engineering and Sandia National Laboratory scientists, she is also developing the field of nanotherapeutics, leading to the formation of a new biotechnology company in New Mexico. Under her leadership as Director and CEO for 14 years, the UNM Cancer Center has become one of the most pre-eminent Cancer Centers in the nation.


Wadih Arap, MD, PhD

Wadih Arap, MD, PhD

Wadih Arap, MD, PhD

The Victor and Ruby Hansen Surface Endowed Chair in Cancer Medicine
Deputy Director, UNM Cancer Center
Professor & Chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology, UNM Department of Internal Medicine

Recruited from MD Anderson Cancer Center where he was Vice-Chair of Genitourinary Oncology and trained at the University of Sao Paulo Medical School in Brazil, Stanford University, Sanford-Burnham Institute, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Dr. Arap is an international expert in prostate cancer. His research, for which he has received numerous awards, is focused on the development of new targeted cancer drugs, leading to over 100 patents and several 'first in human' clinical trials. With his wife, Dr. Renata Pasqualini, he has developed five new biotechnology companies.


Richard Lauer, MD, FACP

Richard Lauer, MD, FACP

Richard Lauer, MD, FACP

The Maralyn S. Budke Endowed Professor in Cancer Care Delivery
Chief Medical Officer, UNM Cancer Center
Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology, UNM Department of Internal Medicine

Trained at New York Medical College and Indiana University, Dr. Lauer is an expert in the treatment of genitourinary cancers and the delivery of high quality, integrated cancer care in academic settings, blending comprehensive cancer diagnosis and treatment with clinical research. Through his stewardship, the UNM Cancer Center’s treatment programs have received the highest commendations and awards from national accrediting agencies (The Joint Commission, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American College of Surgery Commission on Cancer, and American College of Radiology).


Olivier Rixe, MD, PhD

Olivier Rixe, MD, PhD

Olivier Rixe, MD, PhD

The Dana C. Wood Endowed Chair in Cancer Therapeutics and Early Phase Clinical Research
Associate Director for Clinical Research
Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine,
Division of Hematology/Oncology, UNM School of Medicine

Dr. Rixe serves as the Associate Director for Clinical Research at the UNM Cancer Center. Trained as a medical oncologist, Dr. Rixe is internationally renowned for his work in Phase I clinical trials and as Principal Investigator for several neuro-oncology clinical trials. He was involved in the early development phases of many U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved agents, including oxaliplatin, camptothecins, and taxanes; and many targeted therapies including antiangiogenic compounds sunitinib, axitinib and VEGF-trap.


Anita Kinney, PhD, RN

Anita Kinney, PhD, RN

Anita Kinney, PhD, RN

The Carolyn R. Surface Endowed Chair in Cancer Control
Associate Director for Cancer Control and Population Sciences, UNM Cancer Center
Professor, Division of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Preventive Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine

Recruited from Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah and trained at the University of Pennsylvania, UT-Houston School of Public Health, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Kinney is an international and highly acclaimed expert in cancer prevention and public health. Her research focuses on understanding variations in cancer risk, outcomes, cognitions, and emotions in populations and communities. With a particular emphasis on breast and colorectal cancer, she is improving health behaviors and cancer survivorship and reducing cancer risk in diverse populations.


Alan Tomkinson, PhD

Alan Tomkinson, PhD

Alan Tomkinson, PhD

The Victor and Ruby Hansen Surface Endowed Chair in Cancer Research
Associate Director for Basic Research, UNM Cancer Center
Professor, Division of Molecular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine

Trained in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in England, the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, and UC-Berkeley, Dr. Tomkinson is an international expert in the DNA repair mechanisms that prevent cancer by maintaining genome stability and in understanding how these pathways are perturbed in cancer cells. His work is leading to the development of new therapies which target these alterations in cancer cells. At UNM, he leads teams of laboratory scientists focused on fundamental cancer research.


Scott Ness, PhD

Scott Ness, PhD

Scott Ness, PhD

The Victor and Ruby Hansen Surface Endowed Professor in Cancer Genomics
Associate Director for Shared Resources, UNM Cancer Center
Professor, Division of Molecular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine

Trained at UCLA and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Germany, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Ness is a world-renowned expert on Myb proteins, a class of regulatory proteins that contribute to cancer onset and progression. He is also an expert in cancer genomics and is leading the development of next generation human genome sequencing and bioinformatics at UNM Cancer Center, which is now being applied to our cancer patients. He directs the UNM Cancer Center’s Shared Resources, providing access to high technology equipment for cancer research.


Angela Wandinger-Ness, PhD

Angela Wandinger-Ness, PhD

Angela Wandinger-Ness, PhD

The Victor and Ruby Hansen Surface Endowed Professor in Cancer Cell Biology and Clinical Translation
Associate Director for Education, Training and Mentoring, UNM Cancer Center
Professor, Department of Pathology

Trained at UCLA and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg Germany and an AAAS Fellow, Dr. Wandinger-Ness’s research is focused on GTPases, the cellular switches that control cell behavior—particularly cell adhesion and migration, two important characteristics of cancer cells. She leads a team of scientists and physicians who recently discovered a novel compound that inhibits GTPases in ovarian cancers and these agents are now being tested in ovarian cancer clinical trials. Dr. Wandinger-Ness is also a noted educator and mentor who guides the development of young physicians and scientists training in cancer research and she has received many teaching awards.