Neil Spector, MD, is the Program Director and Sandra P. Coates Associate Professor of Cancer Research, Department of Medicine. He is a leading authority in the application of translational research to the development of tumor targeted therapies.
Prior to joining the faculty at Duke in 2006, he was the director of Translational Cancer Research at GlaxoSmithKline from 1998-2006. During that time, he led the development of six new chemical entities and biological therapies into the clinic, two of which, lapatinib and nelarabine, were eventually FDA-approved. His work on molecular mechanisms of therapeutic resistance provided the scientific rationale for a clinical development program that led to an additional FDA approval for lapatinib in combination with the aromatase inhibitor letrozole as a first-line treatment for advanced stage HER2+/estrogen receptor positive breast cancers.
Spector has played a pivotal role as a co-investigator tasked with generating a translational research strategy to guide the development of targeted therapies funded through two multi-investigator grants from the DOD BCRP. He continues to engage scientists not previously involved in cancer research, leveraging their expertise to enhance the cancer research efforts at Duke, as illustrated by a recently awarded partnering PI grant through the DOD BCRP with a newly recruited program member Michael Therien, PhD (Department of Chemistry, School of Arts and Science).
Mentoring medical oncology fellows and Pharmacology/Molecular Cancer Biology graduate students remains an important aspect of Dr. Spector’s commitment to education. In 2010-2011 he was awarded the Wendell Rosse Teaching Award by the Duke hematology/medical oncology fellows for outstanding teaching and mentorship. In 2010, he was selected by his peers as a Komen Scholar, a multi-disciplinary group of the top breast cancer researchers in the world.