July 22, 2021

Ratliff stepping down as director of Purdue Center for Cancer Research; national search underway

Timothy Ratliff, the Robert Wallace director of the Purdue Center for Cancer Research (PCCR), has announced that he will step down from his role after leading the organization for 14 years. The University is launching a national search for the organization’s new director.

Under Ratliff’s leadership, PCCR has retained its National Cancer Institute (NCI) Basic Laboratory Cancer Center designation and has seen tremendous growth in its endowment and translational activities. During his tenure, Ratliff has helped to shape the focus and culture of PCCR, enhancing collaborative science, encouraging dissemination of research, and revolutionizing processes and resources for translation.

“It has been an honor to lead the PCCR and to work with our outstanding and dedicated faculty. We have worked together to shepherd tremendous advances and promising treatments in cancer research," Ratliff says. "What we’ve built is a cross-cutting collaborative research team dedicated to fundamental research that leads to the development of new therapies and tools that target cancer. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with this amazing team in a research capacity.”

After stepping down, Ratliff will continue in his position as a distinguished professor in the Department of Comparative Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine, and will remain an active member of PCCR. 

Theresa Mayer, Purdue’s executive vice president for research and partnerships, says, “Throughout its 45-year history, the Purdue Center for Cancer Research has brought together researchers from disciplines across campus to develop more effective detection, diagnostics, efficient drug delivery systems and treatments. We are very grateful for Dr. Ratliff’s leadership and remain committed to advancing the vision and mission of the PCCR to address the most pressing challenges in cancer research in the next decade and beyond.”

PCCR is among the first interdisciplinary research centers at the University, established in 1976. It received the prestigious NCI Basic Laboratory Cancer Center designation in 1978 and has maintained this status for over 40 years. PCCR is one of only seven NCI-designated basic cancer centers in the United States. It is focused on laboratory research, bringing together researchers from seven colleges to promote discovery into how cancers develop, progress and respond to treatment.

A promising new PCCR advance was recently made by Beth Tran, associate professor of biochemistry, who found that a class of enzymes, which bind to and rearrange RNA structures, were changing the message that encodes proteins. This is essentially providing the building blocks for the cancer cells to grow and divide. She is now studying this function and ways to inhibit it in the most aggressive forms of lung cancer.

PCCR is also among the nation’s leading institutions in drug development. PCCR scientists have 37 new drugs in the pipeline, including 11 currently in human clinical trials and 26 new immunotherapies in development.

PCCR researchers’ intellectual property has led also to the creation of 16 companies during the past 10 years, and numerous patents have been licensed by existing or newly formed companies. A noteworthy example is the company Endocyte Inc., which was started by Philip Low, a PCCR researcher, the Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Presidential Scholar in Drug Discovery. Based on Low’s innovative molecularly targeted imaging and therapeutic platform, Endocyte was purchased in 2018 by Novartis for $2.1 billion.

One of Low’s investigational new drugs was granted a breakthrough therapy designation by the FDA in June 2021 to treat metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. The foundation for the development of the new drug, which directly targets prostate cancer cells, was launched by a first-in-human clinical trial supported and led by the PCCR.

Purdue has named a search advisory committee and started a national search for the next director of PCCR.  The search will be supported by Korn Ferry talent acquisition experts.

Faculty-Staff News

More News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-22 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at purduenews@purdue.edu.