UArizona Cancer Center Director Featured on TheoryLab by the American Cancer Society

Dec. 19, 2020

Dr. Joann Sweasy discusses leading a Cancer Center during COVID-19



Listen to the full episode on SpotifyApple PodcastsStitcher, Soundcloud.

NCI-designated Cancer Centers play leading roles in their communities through cancer research, cancer prevention and control, and clinical research. 

Being the director of a Cancer Center is a position of immense responsibility. Now imaging taking on that role during a pandemic.

Joann Sweasy, PhD—the inaugural holder of the Nancy C. and Craig M. Berge Endowed Chair for the Director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center—joined the podcast to talk about her approach to the position and how the Cancer Center has dealt with the challenges presented by COVID-19.

She also talked about her lab’s ongoing research into DNA damage and repair and how that relates to cancer. 

And she spoke at length about mentoring, women in science issues, and what it was like to study under Dr. Evelyn Witkin, one of the leading cancer researchers of our time. Dr. Witkin helped change our understanding of DNA repair. In 1946, when the American Cancer Society’s extramural research program was launched, Dr. Witkin was one of the first female researchers funded by ACS.

3:33 – Joann Sweasy, PhD, Inaugural holder of the Nancy C. and Craig M. Berge Endowed Chair for the Director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center

5:09 – On the role that NCI-Designated Cancer Centers play in cancer prevention, clinical service, and research

8:32 – How her colleagues at the Cancer Center have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to continue supporting cancer patients, caregivers, and researchers

10:07 – On how the pandemic has provided some unexpected silver linings

13:19 – Some of the ways that research into COVID-19 will benefit cancer patients

17:14 – On her lab’s research into DNA damage and repair and why this is critical to understanding cancer

20:08 – Recent research findings in her lab that she’s most excited about

25:08 – What it was like to train under the great Dr. Evelyn Witkin

28:08 – On some of the caregiving and work-life balance challenges faced by cancer researchers in 2020…

31:11 – …and how academic institutions and research funders could help

34:58 – Advice for young women pursuing a career in science

36:58 – The impact of ACS funding (and peer review) on her career

39:49 – A message she’d like to share with cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers