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Nancy Lee

Clinical Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Nancy Y. Lee MD, FASTRO is Vice Chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology focusing on Experimental Therapeutics.  She is also the Proton Service Chief and the Chief of the Head and Neck Radiation Oncology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is also the Associate Director of the Prevention Interception Program at MSKCC.  Dr. Lee has appointments in both Radiation Oncology Department as well as Early Drug Development Group and currently is the Section Head of the Multimodality Therapeutic Section within Early Drug Development.


Dr. Lee was born in Taipei, Taiwan, grew up until age 9 and then immigrated to USA.  She is an internationally renowned academic physician whose research, publications (almost 300 peer reviewed papers), 3 of the best-selling target delineation books, and lectures have helped radiation oncologists across multiple radiation oncologists harness the powers of IMRT and proton therapy.  She has dedicated her career to embracing technology, modernizing clinical practice, and bringing radiation oncology to the forefront of cancer medicine.  She is also active in the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer where she is a co-author of a consensus statement on immunotherapy use for head and neck cancer and has established multiple industry relationships to take command of trials combining novel therapeutic agents with radiation.  Dr. Lee has served on multiple ASTRO committees and editorial boards.  At MSKCC, she has been a tireless advocate for patients and dedicated herself to the education of trainees (receiving multiple ARRO teaching awards and mentoring over 100 radiation oncologists around the world to successful careers of their own in academic and private practices across the country.  


Her research focuses on developing novel strategies to personalize cancer treatment with the goal to improve tumor cure and quality of life after radiation treatment for head and neck cancer where she has received several NIH R01 funding, including:


(1) Designing/evaluating novel PET and/or MR imaging metrics to select best candidates for radiation dose reduction, currently the de-escalation dose is 30Gy with chemotherapy for select locally advanced Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) head and neck squamous cell carcinoma with ultimate goal of individualizing both radiation and systemic therapy; de-escalation strategies for nasopharyngeal carcinoma, HPV negative tumors; thyroid cancer.


(2) Assessing biologic targeted therapies and using biomarkers such as plasma EBV DNA to individualize treatment for nasopharyngeal, thyroid, and plasma HPV DNA to personalize oropharyngeal cancer; cell free plasma DNA or circulating tumor DNA to direct therapy across different head and neck/thyroid cancer; escalate therapy based on biologic or imaging correlates; and screening for HPV+ oropharyngeal cancer.  She is principal investigator for an international NRG trial personalizing treatment for nasopharyngeal cancer using plasma EBV DNA. 


(3) Establishing standard treatment guidelines for therapies such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), and proton beam for head and neck cancer and focusing efforts on developing FLASH proton therapy with goal of further toxicity reduction.


Her top priority is to help radiation oncology continue to evolve to elevate patient care.  She believes this requires actively engaging and providing opportunities for practitioners in all different settings and phases of their careers.  Outside of work, Dr. Lee is very involved in her church and enjoys traveling with her husband and two boys.

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