News at Medicine - March 2008 - New leadership in oncology

New leadership in oncology
March 27, 2008
Dr. David Saltman, a native Newfoundlander and graduate of Memorial’s medical school, has been appointed the inaugural chair of the Discipline of Oncology in the Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Saltman is a cancer specialist and will also hold an appointment as a clinical oncologist with Eastern Health.
“We are delighted that Dr. Saltman has joined the Faculty of Medicine and Eastern Health in a major new leadership position as chair of the Discipline of Oncology,” said Dr. James Rourke, dean of medicine. “This position will help us advance our knowledge and understanding in this most vital aspect of medical care, education and research.”

Dr. Kara Laing, clinical chief of the oncology program for Eastern Health, is delighted with Dr. Saltman’s appointment. “We’re just so glad he’s here – it’s an opportunity to move forward, particularly in cancer research and in the education of undergraduate and graduate medical students as well as nursing and pharmacy students. All health professionals need to have a good basic understanding of cancer and we hope more will select a career in cancer. With Dr. Saltman’s appointment we can move forward on initiatives we’ve been talking about for last several years.”

Dr. Laing noted that Dr. Saltman has been working since 2004 in Kelowna, B.C., a community with a similar population and similar issues as St. John’s. “He has a lot of experience that will be beneficial in his new position, particularly in the areas of tele-health and tele-oncology.”

Dr. Saltman was born in Old Perlican, Trinity Bay, and graduated from Memorial’s medical school in 1982. After studying internal medicine at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and in Vancouver, he entered a haematology training program at the Vancouver General Hospital. In 1986, he was awarded a Medical Council of Canada training fellowship to study the genetics of lymphoid malignancies at the MRC Human Genetics Unit at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland.

After receiving his PhD in cancer cell biology in 1989, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Experimental Pathology at Stanford University in California where his main interest was the cytogenetic and molecular characterization of chromosomal breakpoints in human leukemias and lymphomas. A chromosome 5 region- specific library created by Dr. Saltman and his colleagues was later used by researchers at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital to clone and characterize the non-randomly occurring breakpoint in anaplastic large cell lymphomas.

After a two-year year stint working with a group in California helping to characterize growth factor and growth factor receptor genes as part of the human genome project, Dr. Saltman returned to Canada to work in clinical oncology and new drug development. While working for the British Columbia Cancer Agency as the medical oncologist for the Cancer Centre for Southern Interior in Kelowna, he has developed an interest in community oncology and the use of telemedicine to improve the delivery of physician and nurse-led clinical oncology services to remote communities.