Medical Advisory Board - Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation

Medical Advisory Board

Aaron Weiss, DO, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Maine Medical Center (Chair, DTRF Medical Advisory Board)

Dr. Weiss graduated from the University of Rochester in 1994 and subsequently earned his medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1999. He completed a pediatric emphasis internship at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine/Albert Einstein Medical Center in 2000 followed by a pediatric residency at the AI duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, DE in 2003. He then went on to complete a pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN in 2006. He subsequently spent six years as an attending pediatric hematologist-oncologist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey/University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and Jersey Shore University Medical Center. In 2012, Dr. Weiss joined the Maine Children’s Cancer Program at Maine Medical Center in Portland, ME. Dr. Weiss has particular interest in pediatric sarcomas. He has co-authored a number of publications on this subject and is currently involved in conducting pediatric clinical trials both locally and nationally in the fields of desmoid tumor and soft tissue sarcoma.  He is the Vice-Chair of the Soft Tissue Sarcoma Committee and Associate Vice-Chair of the Adolescent and Young Adult Committee of the Children’s Oncology Group.  He is the Principal Investigator of the DTFR-funded project: Deregulated mTOR in Desmoid-type Fibromatosis: Identification and Validation of a New Therapeutic Target.

Rashmi Chugh, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Rogel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Rashmi Chugh, MD is a Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at University of Michigan Rogel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Associate Division Chief of Clinical Services of Hematology/Oncology, and Sarcoma Clinical Research Team Co-Leader.  Her clinical practice is focused on the care of patients with bone and soft tissue sarcoma and desmoid fibromatosis.  Dr. Chugh’s research involves conducting early and late phase clinical trials of novel therapies alone or in combination with a goal to advance the care of sarcoma and desmoid patients. She also has a particular interest in the care and research surrounding the adolescent and young adult (AYA) population and understanding the unique challenges they face.

Robert Benjamin, MD, Clinical Professor, Sarcoma, University of Texas- MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Robert Benjamin is a Clinical Professor of Medicine in the Department of Sarcoma Medical Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He has worked in the area of Bone & Soft Tissue Sarcoma for more than 40 years and was the department’s former chairman for more than 20 years. Dr. Benjamin was awarded the P.H. and Fay E. Robinson Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Research as well as the Gerald P. Bodey Professorship. In 2012 Dr. Benjamin received Herman Suit Award for his exceptional contribution to CTOS. In 2013 was the recipient of the Mendelsohn Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Benjamin was a founding member of the Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS), an international, multidisciplinary society devoted to the study of sarcomas, and he is past CTOS president. He is also on the Advisory Board of the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration (SARC), a clinical trials group of CTOS members. He served on the NCI Program Review Group (PRG) for Sarcomas and was co-chairman of the PRG committee on Better Clinical Trials. Through SARC and CTOS, he has organized an international symposium on reassessing imaging techniques to determine response to treatment in sarcomas.

Palma Dileo, MD, Consultant Medical Oncologist, London Sarcoma Service, University College London Hospitals

Dr. Palma Dileo is Consultant Medical Oncologist on the Sarcoma Unit at University College Hospital, UCLH NHS Trust, specialising exclusively in the management of soft tissue and bone sarcomas. The Sarcoma Unit at UCLH, together with the Sarcoma Unit at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, is the London Sarcoma Service ( which offers a comprehensive clinical service to patients of all ages with sarcoma at all sites of the body. She continued to provide patient care since 1996 (general oncology), with more emphasis on sarcoma and rare tumours starting from 1998. She completed her training at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori of Milan, Italy and at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, USA. From 2006 to 2010 she has been Associate Physician, Medical Oncology, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milan working in the Sarcoma Team. She has a strong interest in early phase clinical trials and is a co-investigator for a number of clinical trials in sarcoma. She is a member of the EORTC Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group and ASCO.

Mrinal Gounder, MD, Associate Professor and Medical Oncologist, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Dr. Mrinal Gounder is the Scientific Director of DTRF and a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Boards. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine at MSKCC specializing in sarcomas and developing new drugs in cancer. He is an internationally recognized leader in desmoid tumors and leads clinical trials in desmoid tumors. He recently showed for the first time that sorafenib is an active drug in desmoid tumors. He completed his fellowship in medical oncology at MSKCC. Prior to arriving at MSKCC, he completed his internal medicine training at Northwestern University in Chicago and received his MD from SUNY- Syracuse.

Candace L. Haddox, MD, Medical Oncologist, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Haddox sees patients with soft tissue and bone sarcomas and tumors, and also leads clinical trials both in the sarcoma group and in Dana Farber’s early phase clinical trial program. Her research interests are in identifying and developing novel targeted therapies and immune therapies across various subtypes of sarcomas, and also fundamentally understanding why treatments do or do not work. 

Rick Haas, MD, PhD, Division of Radiotherapy, Netherlands Cancer Institute

Rick Haas is a soft tissue sarcoma focused radiation-oncologist from the NKI-AVL in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he is employed now for almost 25 years. He is an active member of CTOS (Board of Directors 2015-2017), the EORTC-STBSG (President of the Local Treatment Subcommittee), and the Sarcoma Patients Euronet (SPAEN) Patient Advocacy Organization (Medical Advisory Board). He initiated several sarcoma related clinical trials in phase I (NCT01985295), phase II (NCT02575066, NCT02106312) and phase III (NCT01344018).

Peter Hohenberger, MD, PhD, Professor of Surgical Oncology, Mannheim University Medical Center, University of Heidelberg

Peter Hohenberger, MD, is Head of the Division of Surgical Oncology and Thoracic Surgery at the Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg. He is a boarded surgeon in visceral and vascular surgery as well as in thoracic surgery and surgical intensive care. He got his professional education at the University of Erlangen and, was trained in psychology and pathology. His surgical qualifications were received at the University of Heidelberg. He held senior positions at the Department of Surgery, University of Heidelberg as well as at Charité, Berlin. He is a surgical oncologist now specialized in the treatment of GIST and soft tissue tumors and is the Past-Chairman of the EORTC Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group. He is a collaborator to EORTC organisation (GI, melanoma and STBSG) since the 1980s and has been member of the Protocol Review Committee as well as to the Board of EORTC for nine years each. His center has participated in major multinational randomized studies on the treatment of GIST and sarcoma. Trial activities also include the EU-funded EUROSARC and CONTICANET consortia. MITIGATE is a most recently started research network pursuing the treatment of imatinib-resistant GIST. He served on the faculty of the AACR/ASCO/FECS course on Methods of Clinical Cancer Research for seven years and is also member to the advisory board of SPAEN (Sarcoma Patients Euronet), Das LEBENSHAUS and was one of the initiators of SOS-DESMOID. In addition, the Mannheim center hosts the German Interdisciplinary Sarcoma Group (GISG).

Bernd Kasper, MD, PhD, Professor, Mannheim University Medical Center, Interdisciplinary Tumor Center, Sarcoma Unit

Prof. Bernd Kasper studied Medicine at the University of Heidelberg and received his MD degree from Heidelberg University in 2000. In 2001, he finalised his thesis at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, dealing with new treatment strategies for chronic myelogenous leukaemia patients using the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib. To deepen his training, he stayed in London (Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, Department of Haematology), Brussels (Jules Bordet Institute, Medical Oncology Clinic) and South Kerala, India. In 2007 and 2008, he specialized in Internal Medicine and Medical Haematology/Oncology at the Department of Internal Medicine V at the University of Heidelberg. Currently, he works at the Sarcoma Unit at the Mannheim Cancer Center (MCC), University of Heidelberg. Prof. Kasper has a life-time professional dedication to patient care and research in soft tissue sarcomas (STS), desmoid-type fibromatosis (DF) and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST)He is head of the study center of the German Interdisciplinary Sarcoma Group (GISG). He seves as the current Chair of the EORTC Soft Tissue and Bone Sarcoma Group (STBSG) and is member of the Board of Directors of the Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS). Prof. Kasper has authored around 100 scientific publications. He is dedicated as board member to patient organizations dealing with STS, DF and GIST on the national and international level such as SPAEN, NLMSF, and DTRF.

Robert Lefkowitz, MD, Associate Professor, Radiology, Weill Cornell Medical College/Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Dr. Lefkowitz is a radiologist specializing in abdominal and musculoskeletal imaging and he has a particular interest in imaging of soft tissue tumors. Currently, he is involved in several prospective and retrospective research projects evaluating the treatment response of desmoid tumors to medical therapy and the associated changes seen on MRI.

Christian Meyer, MD, PhD, Instructor of Oncology, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Meyer will serve as the lead medical oncologist for adult sarcoma patients, and will focus on building the Adult Sarcoma and Connective Tissue Oncology Program. In collaboration with pediatric oncologist David Loeb, M.D., Ph.D., and orthopaedic surgeon Kristy Weber, M.D., Meyer will bring novel therapies to the clinic for sarcoma patients.
Meyer received his bachelors and masters degrees in cell and molecular biology from Stanford University. From there, he joined the Medical Scientist Training Program at Baylor College of Medicine and earned his medical degree followed by a doctorate in immunology. Meyer completed his residency at the University of Maryland and served as chief resident in medicine from 2004-2005.
Afterward, he joined our fellowship program in medical oncology and has been working in the laboratory of Jonathan Powell, M.D., Ph.D., on projects relating to the characterization of molecular regulatory pathways involved in T-cell activation and energy. As a third-year fellow, Meyer served as the chief fellow for our Training Programs in Hematology and Medical Oncology and he received a Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2010.

Seth Pollack, MD. Director of the Sarcoma Program, Lurie Cancer Center, Northwestern University

Dr. Seth Pollack is an expert sarcoma specialist with a passion for helping patients with desmoid tumors. He is currently serving as the Director of the Sarcoma Program at the Lurie Cancer Center and the Steven T. Rosen Professor of Cancer Biology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. As a physician-scientist, he is developing novel immunotherapies for patients with advanced sarcoma and leveraging unique features of sarcoma immunobiology to improve immunotherapy for all patients with cancer. As a clinician and sarcoma expert, he has chaired sessions at the annual meetings of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the Japanese Society for Medical Oncology (JSMO), the Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS) and gave the keynote talk at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the British Sarcoma Group. Some of his awards have included the V Foundation Translational Award, the Alliance for Cancer Gene therapy, grants from the Sarcoma Foundation of America and the SARC Career Development Award. His research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.  He sits on the NCCN guidelines panel for soft tissue sarcomas which includes the national guidelines for desmoid tumors. During his 12 years treating patients with sarcoma at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, he received the Sig Kohl Legacy award from the Northwest Sarcoma Foundation for an “outstanding and enduring contribution to the care of sarcoma patients in the Northwest.” He is thrilled to be living in Chicago and helping patients suffering from desmoid tumors at the Lurie Cancer Center.

Raphael E. Pollock, MD, PhD, Director, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr. Raphael Pollock is a professor and the Director of the Division of Surgical Oncology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center College of Medicine’s Department of Surgery. He also serves as the chief of surgical services of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. Previously, Dr. Pollock served as the senior sarcoma surgeon at UTMDACC where he has been a member of the faculty since 1982; he is also the Director of the UTMDACC Sarcoma Research Center, an entity that includes the Sarcoma Research Laboratory, the Sarcoma Tissue Repository, and the UTMDACC Sarcoma database. The Sarcoma Research Laboratory includes faculty from six different clinical and basic science departments (described below); the Sarcoma Tissue Repository was initiated by Dr. Pollock in the early 1990s and currently consists of > 2500 clinically annotated sarcoma tissue specimens, many with autologous normal tissues. Dr. Pollock serves as Chair of the AJCC Sarcoma Committee, is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA), the Sarcoma Alliance, the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, the Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation, the UICC TNM Expert Advisory Panel on Sarcoma, the NCCN Sarcoma Committee, the Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation, the Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration (SARC) Executive Committee, and also serves as Co-Chair of the NCI Genomic Atlas Sarcoma Steering Committee. Dr. Pollock is also a member of the NIH/NCI Board of Scientific Counselors. He is the Principal Investigator of the DTRF-funded project, “A rational search for novel anti-drug therapies.”

Ravin Ratan, MD, Associate Professor, Sarcoma, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Ratan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sarcoma Medical Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  He has a large clinical practice focusing on the treatment of patients with sarcomas and other connective tissue neoplasms including desmoid fibromatosis.  He has been the primary investigator for multiple studies focused on the treatment of desmoid tumors and sarcomas at MD Anderson.  He is a passionate educator who lectures to medical trainees at multiple institutions regarding the management of sarcoma, and facilitates their involvement in the care of patients at MD Anderson. He is also a frequent speaker at patient and caregiver education events throughout the country. 

Chandrajit P. Raut, MD, Director, Surgical Oncology, Sarcoma, Associate Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School

Chandrajit P. Raut, M.D., M.Sc. is an Associate Professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School, Associate Surgeon in the Division of Surgical Oncology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), and Surgery Director at the Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). A graduate of Stanford University, Oxford University, and Harvard Medical School, he completed his general surgery residency at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and surgical oncology fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Raut specializes almost exclusively in the multidisciplinary care of patients with soft tissue sarcoma, including desmoid tumors. Dr. Raut is the Program Director of the Complex Surgical Oncology Fellowship at DFCI, BWH, and MGH and serves as the Section Editor for sarcoma in the journals Cancer and Annals of Surgical Oncology and Associate Editor for Sarcoma.

Vinod Ravi, MD, Associate Professor, Vascular Sarcomas, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Vinod Ravi is an Associate Professor, Department of Sarcoma Medical Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine. He is also the Clinical Director, Translational Research Accelerator Program, Department of Genomic Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine, and holds a joint adjunct appointment as an Associate Professor, Department of Genomic Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer.
Dr. Ravi’s clinical practice is focused on vascular sarcomas such as angiosarcoma and epithelioid hemangioendothelioma. Dr. Ravi is also part of the angiosarcoma and leiomyosarcoma working groups at MD Anderson to efficiently utilize the current moonshot platforms to improve outcomes in these rare diseases. Over the course of the last 8 years that he has been at MD Anderson, he has conducted several phase II and III studies in patients with sarcoma. His clinical research interests are in the development of novel therapies for angiosarcoma and other vascular tumors.
From a data science standpoint, his research focus is utilization of multi-dimensional clinical and molecular data for identification of effective molecular therapies. Dr. Ravi is interested in correlating responses to specific targeted therapies with molecular predictors to improve clinical trial efficiency and success rates. As the clinical director of TRA (Translational Research Accelerator) program, Dr. Ravi leads the implementation of big data initiative that connects molecular data on patient samples with clinical and radiological information from electronic records.

Silvia Stacchiotti, MD, Medical Oncologist, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Dei Tumori

A medical oncologist, Dr. S. Stacchiotti, works in the Adult Sarcoma Medical Treatment Unit, Cancer Medicine Department, Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milano, Italy, directed by dr. Paolo G. Casali. Her clinical and research activities focus on rare tumors, especially adult sarcomas, including gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), and uncommon histotypes such as chordoma, chondrosarcoma, alveolar soft part sarcoma, desmoids, solitary fibrous tumor and PEComa. She is a member of the Italian Sarcoma Group, a national cooperative group for clinical and translational research on soft tissue and bone sarcomas, and is a member of the EORTC Soft Tissue & Bone Sarcoma Group. She collaborates to the Italian Network on Rare Tumors, a collaborative effort among Italian cancer centers, which tries to exploit distant patient sharing in order to improve quality of care and diminish health migration for rare solid cancers. She is a member of ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology), Connective Tissue Oncology Society (CTOS) and of ASCO (America Society of Medical Oncology). She has authored >80 scientific publications on sarcoma.

Born in 1968, Dr. Silvia Stacchiotti received her medical degree in 1993 in Milan, and trained at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori. She is certified in Clinical Oncology.

Keila Torres, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dr. Keila Torres (a graduate from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, of Yeshiva University in New York) decided to make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer after losing a loved one to cancer. As a surgeon at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Torres specializes in providing surgical care to patients with sarcoma. As a scientist, she also leads a laboratory whose primary goal is to understand how sarcomas grow & how they can be treated more effectively. Her efforts have culminated in several scientific publications, as well as clinical articles & book chapters that have advanced the standard of care for sarcoma patients. Dr. Torres has received numerous awards including the 2011 SARC Career Development Award, the National Cancer Institute Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (2012-2016),& the 2015 American Society or Clinical Investigation Young Physician-Scientist Award. Dr. Torres’ commitment to sarcoma patients does not stop at her professional calling. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Amschwand Sarcoma Cancer Foundation & actively supports the Sally M. Kingsbury Sarcoma Cancer Research Foundation. In fact, much of Keila’s passion & charity work revolves around increasing sarcoma education & awareness. One of her most recent projects was a sarcoma awareness campaign using canine companions as advocates. She is the founder and CEO of Sniffing for the Cure, LLC, an independent publishing company founded with the primary intent to empower people with knowledge, hope and inspiration by incorporating their pets into everyday activity. With sarcoma being the most common form of cancer in dogs, Sniffing for the Cure is committed to increase sarcoma awareness in both canines and humans and advance canine cancer research & related clinical trials that may also offer insight into treatment for human sarcoma patients.