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Moffitt appoints new deputy

Translating today’s research discoveries into immediate benefits for cancer patients is one of the ambitions that motivates W.J. Pledger in his new role as deputy director for the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.

Pledger will combine his new role as deputy director with his existing responsibilities as associate center director for research. He takes over the position of deputy director from William S. Dalton, who resigned to take up the post of dean for the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona.

John Ruckdeschel, Moffitt Center director, said he was certain that Pledger would continue to enhance Moffitt’s reputation.

“As deputy director, we are confident that his administrative expertise and commitment to scientific innovation will continue to distinguish Moffitt as an international leader in the fight against cancer,” Ruckdeschel said.

Pledger said that his appointment reflected the importance of basic research to the Moffitt Center.

“That Ruckdeschel and the board of directors have placed a laboratory scientist in this position really shows that, here at the Moffitt, not only is the clinical practice so important, but the research is right there with it,” Pledger said.

As deputy director, Pledger said although he would become more involved in fund- raising and in representing Moffitt to the public, his commitment to research would remain unaffected.”I have my own laboratories, and I hold four research grants.

That’s my No. 1 thing: I want to be a researcher. I want to make discoveries.” Pledger said. “The Moffitt is being developed to provide the kind of atmosphere where really good researchers can make a difference.”

Pledger said he would also be involved in the establishment of the new clinic and research laboratories being constructed as part of the Tower Project.

“The Moffitt now sees about 130,000 outpatients a year, and it will not be long before we are up to about 250,000,” Pledger said.

“The new clinic will have state-of-the-art treatment facilities, a state-of-the-art infusion center, and it will allow us to see the patient load that we need to see now.”

Pledger earned his doctorate in biochemistry from Purdue University. Prior to joining Moffitt he served as a professor in the Department of Cell Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. For his leadership in the area of cancer research, Pledger was awarded the inaugural Moffitt Cancer Center Scientist of the Year accolade in 2001. In his time as associate center director for research, Pledger helped to initiate research into cancer susceptibility and genetic immunotherapy. His own research has provided valuable insight into cell proliferation, an essential element in the development of more effective therapies against cancer.

Pledger said he wanted the people of Florida to realize the true value of the Moffitt Center.

“We never want to see anyone here, but to have the very finest cancer care in this area, to not to have to take your loved ones to Houston or New York is incredible,” Pledger said.

“This place is an incredible plus to the state. I think that the center is one of the real gems of Florida.”

  • Contact Chris O’Donnell at