Press Releases

American Cancer Society Names New Chief Medical Officer
Jul 23, 2007
Otis Webb Brawley, M.D. to Succeed Harmon J. Eyre, M.D

Atlanta 2007/07/23 -The American Cancer Society, the largest voluntary health organization in the United States and the world’s leading cancer control organization, today announced the retirement of Chief Medical Officer Harmon J. Eyre, M.D. and named Otis Webb Brawley, M.D. as his successor. The chief medical officer is the Society’s most senior clinical staff position, providing management oversight of the organization’s intramural and extramural research, surveillance and epidemiology, cancer control science and international programs and activities. The American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer frequently serves as chief spokesperson for the global nonprofit on medical and scientific policy issues.

Dr. Otis Brawley, a practicing oncologist, most recently served as professor of Hematology and Oncology and Epidemiology at Emory University, as medical director of the Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, and as deputy director for cancer control at Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University. Previously, Dr. Brawley served in a variety of capacities at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), with his most recent NCI position as that of director of the Office of Special Populations Research. He is a renowned leader in the field of health disparities research. He led the National Cancer Institute Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial and also focuses his clinical research on breast cancer.

Dr. Brawley is a member of the American College of Physicians, the National Medical Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Clinical Research. He has received numerous awards throughout his career, including in 2006 the U.S. Public Health Service Crisis Response Service Award, the U.S. Public Health Service Distinguished Service Commendation and the Key to St. Bernard Parish for his work in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Dr. Brawley currently serves as chair of the National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel on the treatment of Sickle Cell Anemia, and as a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection and Control Advisory Committee. He previously served as a volunteer member of the American Cancer Society’s Prostate Cancer Committee and as a co-chair of the Surgeon Generals Task Force on Cancer Health Disparities. He has published extensively in medical journals and has served in editorial roles for Contemporary Oncology, Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, the British Journal of Urology and Cure.

Dr. Brawley is a graduate of University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine and completed his internship at University Hospital of Cleveland, Case-Western Reserve University, his residency at University Hospital of Cleveland and his fellowship at the National Cancer Institute.

"I am both humbled and extremely honored to have this remarkable opportunity to follow in the footsteps of a great leader," said Dr. Brawley. "Dr. Eyre’s tenure was extraordinarily effective, and I am committed to continuing those successful efforts to ensure the American Cancer Society remains a leader in cancer science."

"It’s a real coup to have secured the commitment of Otis Brawley to join the American Cancer Society as our new chief medical officer," said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. "Dr. Brawley’s extensive experience in health disparities will help us as we work to eliminate disparities in access to quality cancer care and as we continue to make global progress against this disease."

Dr. Harmon Eyre has served the Society as chief medical officer since 1993 and has been a volunteer with the organization for more than 22 years -- including serving as its national volunteer president in 1988. Through his long-standing personal interest in cancer research and education, he has been instrumental in helping set the Society’s priorities, including increasing emphasis on prevention and early detection of cancer, supporting better decisions by newly diagnosed patients and their caregivers, improving cancer patients’ quality of life, and supporting innovative, high impact cancer research. Dr. Eyre also has guided efforts to enhance and focus the Society’s overall research portfolio, build the Society’s nationwide advocacy capacity, and concentrate community-based cancer control efforts in areas where they will be most effective.

Prior to joining the Society, Dr. Eyre enjoyed a successful academic career as a medical oncologist at the University of Utah where he served as associate chairman of Internal Medicine and deputy director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

"It has been a privilege to have Dr. Eyre as my friend and colleague for many years, starting with our volunteer service together for the Society, and for the last 14 years as he served as the organization’s chief medical officer," said Dr. Seffrin "Dr. Eyre is globally recognized as a cancer expert, and will be remembered for his tireless efforts in cancer control and research, and more specifically in helping the Society make progress towards reducing the incidence and mortality of cancer and improving quality of life for the 10.5 million cancer survivors alive today. Under Dr. Eyre’s leadership, cancer mortality rates continued to drop at about one percent per year. An extraordinary clinician and visionary leader who has the rare gift of being able to apply his clinical vision to everyday practice in cancer control and research, Dr. Eyre will be missed."

Dr. Eyre has been widely recognized for his service to numerous professional societies, government groups, and voluntary health agencies in the United States and abroad, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer, the American Stop Smoking Intervention Study, the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, the Centers for Disease Control, and the President’s Cancer Panel. He has received degrees and postgraduate training from Utah State University, University of Utah, Johns Hopkins University, and the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Eyre and Dr. Brawley will collaborate during the coming months to ensure the transition, and Dr. Brawley will assume full responsibility as chief medical officer effective November 1, 2007.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Founded in 1913 and with national headquarters in Atlanta, the Society has 13 regional Divisions and local offices in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the United States. For more information anytime, call toll free 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit

Becky Steinmark Erwin
National Director, Media Relations
American Cancer Society
(404) 417-5860