In the Cancer Centers
Rosen Moves to City of Hope
By Paul Goldberg
Steven Rosen is leaving his job as director of Northwestern University Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center to become the center director, provost, and chief scientific officer at City of Hope National Medical Center.
The move is interesting in part because, after 25 years in the top job at Northwestern, Rosen is the second longest-serving director of a cancer center in the U.S. (Rosen’s friend Max Wicha, who became director of the University of Michigan Cancer Center 27 years ago, is the first.)
The change is all the more noteworthy because the role Rosen is taking at City of Hope will require him to be a part of a management team, where he would run the scientific and academic functions, but would report to that institution’s president and designated next CEO, Robert Stone.
Rosen’s first day at City of Hope will be March 1, 2014.
The position represents a reconfiguration of the cancer center model that often requires the director to be a scientist, a scientific administrator, a healthcare executive, a strategist, and a fundraiser.
Though some directors report to deans or the boards of directors, the City of Hope schema is unique, because its power-sharing structure formally delineates the responsibilities.
“The world is becoming so complex, that for us, the way we navigate this complexity is to not try to rely on one individual to have all of the answers on every subject,” Stone said to The Cancer Letter. “It’s to build the leadership community where people bring different skills and understand what they know and don’t know.”
“I think that in the future things are going to be so complicated and so challenging that leadership teams will evolve, and City of Hope is moving in that direction now,” said Michael Friedman, the institution’s retiring CEO. “Having truly gifted business leaders, truly gifted strategists, truly gifted scientists, clinicians, and so forth, is going to be necessary, and the sheer quantity of leadership will need to be greater.”
Rosen said he liked the team at City of Hope.
“I liked the people, and I thought I would fit in the team, and we would work effectively together,” he said to The Cancer Letter. “We would have a collective power, and the resources are so significant to recruit stars in the field.”
City of Hope was awarded more than $79.7 million in research grants during 2012 and received $224.6 million in revenues from patented technologies.
The redefinition of the traditional authorities of a center director wasn’t a problem, Rosen said.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years, I am comfortable with all the nuances, I’ve been an advisor to over a dozen cancer centers, I’ve seen places that have thrived, places that have suffered in different leadership structures,” Rosen said. “I feel I understand what’s necessary to put together a team to do important work.
“The goal is to establish an environment where everyone feels nurtured and wants to be there to advance the mission.”
Initially, Rosen will serve as director of the City of Hope cancer center, but at some point, he may recruit a replacement who would report to him.
“I will first have to settle in,” he said. “I have to learn a great deal about the institution, and once I feel comfortable, we would make collective decisions about whether it’s best for me to stay in the position or recruit someone else.”
Rosen first came to Northwestern as a college student in 1969, and with the exception of a fellowship at NCI, has been there since.
He said he started to look for other opportunities after the most recent round of the cancer center grant review by NCI, where the center was rated “outstanding” and Rosen’s leadership “exceptional.”
“I thought it was an opportune time for transition,” he said. “There wasn’t a natural next position for me here at Northwestern and opportunities started to become available.”
Northwestern officials said a national search for Rosen’s successor would begin shortly.