Skip to main content

Scientific Leadership

Experts from across the University of Cincinnati, UC Health, and Cincinnati Children's form our core scientific leadership team.

Co-Directors

Dr. Syed Ahmad - Headshot

Syed A. Ahmad, MD

Co-Director, University of Cincinnati Cancer Center The Hayden Family Endowed Chair for Cancer Research Professor of Surgery Chief, Division of Surgical Oncology

Syed Ahmad, MD, co-director, is responsible for the research and academic components of our cancer efforts. A nationally recognized leader in oncologic surgery for pancreas and hepatobiliary cancers, Dr. Ahmad’s research interests include gastrointestinal and pancreaticobiliary malignancies, pancreatitis, islet cell transplantation, and novel translational research for GI malignancies. Dr. Ahmad currently serves as the Principal Investigator on two NCI-designated cooperative studies. He is the co-PI on several NCI-funded research grants and has published over 200 articles and chapters. He also serves as a reviewer for 15 prestigious clinical and research journals.

Dr. William Barrett - Headshot

William L. Barrett, MD

Co-Director, University of Cincinnati Cancer Center Chair and Professor, Radiation Oncology Medical Director, Barrett Center for Cancer Prevention, Treatment, and Research

William Barrett, MD, co-director, leads adult oncology patient care activities for the Cancer Center. Dr. Barrett has been a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati since 1992 and has experience treating most types of cancer. His research interests include radiation oncology, oncology, head & neck cancer, prostate cancer, sarcoma, and brachytherapy. With a passion for cancer education – for both the community and physicians – he has organized several educational conferences and is very involved in medical student and resident education at the University of Cincinnati.

Scientific Program Leaders

Daniel Starczynowski, PhD

Daniel Starczynowski, PhD

Associate Director for Basic Science Research

Daniel Starczynowski, PhD, is the associate director for basic science research at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. With an emphasis on Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) and Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), his laboratory investigates the molecular and cellular basis of hematologic malignancies to advance novel therapeutic strategies.

Davendra Sohal, MD, MPH

Davendra Sohal, MD, MPH

Associate Director of Clinical Research

Davendra Sohal, MD, MPH, is the associate director for clinical research at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. Dr. Sohal joined the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center in 2019 with a focus on gastrointestinal cancer research and experimental therapeutics. He is currently leading several national clinical trials as well as trials developed right here in Cincinnati to investigate new cancer drugs, including immunotherapy, targeted therapy, and cellular therapies.

Susan Pinney, PhD

Susan Pinney, PhD

Associate Director for Cancer Prevention, Control & Population Science Research

Susan Pinney, PhD, is the associate director for cancer prevention, control, and population science research at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. Dr. Pinney conducts a variety of large molecular epidemiology studies and cohort studies of gene variants that increase cancer risk.

Melinda Butsch Kovacic, MPH, PhD

Melinda Butsch Kovacic, MPH, PhD

Associate Director for Community Outreach & Engagement

Melinda Butsch Kovacic, MPH, PhD, is the associate director for community outreach & engagement at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. Her research has primarily focused on epidemiologic approaches to identify genetic, infectious, environmental, and molecular biomarkers of childhood asthma and cancer using human biospecimens and clinical data. Dr. Butsch Kovacic also focuses on expanding community partnerships using community-based participatory research (CBPR) to co-create materials that improve community members’ health literacy and engage them in citizen science.

Ken Greis, PhD

Ken Greis, PhD

Associate Director for Shared Resources

Ken Greis, PhD, is the associate director for shared resources at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. His research focuses on technology development and the application of mass spectrometry to understand biochemical and biomedical systems where he has also developed significant expertise in project management. He has a passion for developing and managing technology to help researchers solve challenging questions and thus collaborates in various research areas including cancer.

Pier Paolo Scaglioni, MD

Pier Paolo Scaglioni, MD

Associate Director for Translational Research

Pier Paolo Scaglioni, MD, is the associate director for translational research at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. He is a physician-scientist focusing his clinical practice on acute leukemia and stem cell transplant and acute leukemia. regulate the metabolism of cancer cells with an emphasis on lipid metabolism and ferroptosis. His lab has identified several therapeutic targets and provided the rationale for clinical trials testing new cancer drugs. Dr. Scaglioni is also currently working to build integrated scientific programs between the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s to create a pipeline from basic science discoveries to patients.

Scientific Advisors

John Byrd, MD

John C. Byrd, MD

Senior Advisor

John Byrd, MD, is a senior advisor at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. An internationally known researcher and clinical specialist in leukemia and other hematologic malignancies, Dr. Byrd, has over 600 publications in leukemia and experimental therapeutics research. He runs a highly translational laboratory focused on CLL and drug development in hematologic malignancies. Dr. Byrd has also been part of the successful development of multiple therapeutics in acute myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

John Perentesis, MD

John P. Perentesis, MD

Senior Advisor, Co-Executive Director, Cincinnati Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute

John P. Perentesis, MD, senior advisor at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, is a nationally recognized expert in the development of new drugs and molecular therapies for pediatric and young adult cancers and leukemia. His laboratory has developed novel anticancer drugs and discovered genes important in the growth of normal and malignant cells. His laboratory is also using tumor patients’ genomics research to personalize therapies. Dr. Perentesis serves in key roles for the National Cancer Institute’s Investigational Drug Steering Committee and the NCI-funded Children’s Oncology Group (COG) – the world's largest children's cancer research entity.

Yi Zheng, PhD

Yi Zheng, PhD

Senior Advisor, Co-Executive Director, Cincinnati Children’s Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute

Yi Zheng, PhD, senior advisor at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, runs a lab at Cincinnati Children’s that works to understand the molecular mechanism and the physiological impact of signal transduction processes involving Rho GTPases, their regulators, and effector targets with the ultimate goal being to develop novel therapeutic reagents that interfere with specific Rho signaling pathways related to human pathological conditions including cancer, inflammation, aging, and hemopathies.

Jun-Lin Guan, PhD

Jun-Lin Guan, PhD

Senior Advisor

Jun-Lin Guan, PhD, senior advisor for the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, focuses his research on the mechanisms of cell signaling in biological processes and how disruption of the normal signaling pathways leads to cancer and other diseases. With the goal of understanding the fundamental principles of cell signaling in the regulation of basic cellular functions in normal cell and developmental processes and determining how the disruption of normal signaling pathways leads to diseases such as cancer, Dr. Guan’s laboratory has made major contributions to the discovery and characterization of signaling molecules and pathways in the regulation of cell migration, survival, and proliferation by integrin signaling through FAK.

Emily Curran, MD

Emily Curran, MD

Medical Director, University of Cincinnati Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office

Emily Curran, MD, is a senior advisor for the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center and serves as medical director of the Clinical Trials Office. Dr. Curran's clinical interest focuses on caring for patients with hematologic malignancies, particularly acute leukemia. Following her residency and fellowship, Dr. Curran completed additional training in clinical pharmacology and pharmacogenomics. Dr. Curran is the principal investigator for numerous early-phase clinical trials in acute leukemia and hematologic malignancies. Her research investigates novel approaches to improve outcomes for patients with acute leukemia through both translational studies and clinical trial approaches.

Administrative Leadership

Tammy Mentzel, MPH

Tammy Mentzel, MPH

Interim Executive Director of Center Administration, Associate Director for Administration

Tammy Mentzel, MPH, has been selected to lead the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center's administrative core as Interim Executive Director for Center Administration. She will also serve as Associate Director for Administration within the Cancer Center's research structure, reporting directly to Syed Ahmad, MD, and William Barrett, MD, co-directors of the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center. Tammy’s focus is to build an effective, NCI-compliant cancer center administrative team to enhance cancer research, eliminate health disparities, and achieve future NCI designation for the benefit of the community and patients served in the tristate region and beyond.

Michelle Marcum MS

Michelle Marcum, MS

Administrative Director, Clinical Trials Office

Michelle Marcum, MS, administrative director of the Clinical Trails Office at the University of Cincinnati Cancer Center, oversees the operations of the clinical trials office and works closely with Cancer Center leadership and the CTO medical director to develop and maintain a clinical research infrastructure poised to conduct interdisciplinary cancer clinical research of the highest quality.

Contact Us

University of Cincinnati
Cancer Center

231 Albert Sabin Way, Suite 2005
Cincinnati, OH 45267
Phone: 513-558-2177
Fax: 513-558-2666