Dr. Carlos L. Arteaga, the newly arrived director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says “the momentum for progress in cancer research has never been better,” with mortality rates coming down for many types of cancer thanks in part to “the power of molecular biology” and community engagement.
However, he adds, a few “bumps in the road” will have to be addressed for the progress to continue. “Human talent is needed—an influx of young scientists,” Arteaga said at a Nov. 9 reception in his honor at UT Southwestern’s T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building. “We must retain and support them. We can’t lose them!”
Arteaga also noted the “cancer health disparity” between poor and better-off communities. “Not all segments of society are reaping the benefits,” he said. “So ensuring cancer-health equity is an area of priority.”
Arteaga, who succeeded Dr. James Wilson as director at the Simmons center, began his new position in September. The center is one of 49 Comprehensive Cancer Centers—a ranking awarded by the National Cancer Institute—in the United States.
Addressing a group of donors, supporters, and physicians that included the likes of John Scovell, Kathleen Gibson, Dee Simmons, and UT Southwestern Medical Center President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, Arteaga said he’s often asked why he left his previous position—he’d been at Vanderbilt University since 1989—to make the move to Dallas.
“I took my first look [at UT Southwestern] in August 2016, when it was 102 degrees,” he recalled with a smile. “I was … excited about the investment and commitment here. … It gave me courage to go to my wife and say, ‘What do you think?’ She said, ‘It’s okay!’ “