Dr. Robert Clarke named new executive director of the Hormel Institute 

Published 5:05 am Monday, May 11, 2020

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Will be the 6th director ,comes from Georgetown University


Dr. Robert Clarke of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., has been named the next executive director of The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota.

Clarke, an internationally recognized leader in breast cancer research, will lead the institute’s work to advance knowledge around the mechanisms of cancer development and to discover better ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer in its many forms.

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He will begin in the role on Aug. 31, and will also hold a faculty appointment with the UMN Twin Cities Medical School.

“The research being done every day at The Hormel Institute holds enormous potential to reduce the devastating impacts of cancer on our lives and improve the health of people not just here in Minnesota, but around the world,” said Chris Cramer, the University of Minnesota’s vice president for research in a press release, adding that the search committee, led by treasurer of The Hormel Foundation Roland Gentzler, is confident about the new leadership.

“In welcoming Dr. Clarke to lead the institute, with his exceptional experience and expertise, we are helping ensure the institute can reach its greatest potential in the fight against cancer,” he said.

Clarke is currently a professor of oncology and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at the renowned Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. He studies how hormones, growth factors, and other related molecules affect breast cancer, and how breast cancers become resistant to hormonal and cytotoxic chemotherapies. Dr. Clarke’s broad expertise includes estrogens, antiestrogens, aromatase inhibitors, cell signaling, bioinformatics, drug resistance, signal transduction and systems biology.

From 2007 to 2019, Clarke served as an associate vice president of Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) and director of its Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, home to 60 percent of biomedical research at GUMC. He also served as dean for research from 2011 to 2019. Clarke was an elected member of the Georgetown University Faculty Senate (2002 to 2011), serving as secretary-treasurer from 2004 to 2007.

“Throughout its nearly eight decades of history, The Hormel Institute has been home to many accomplished researchers whose discoveries have helped to improve human health,” Clarke said. “In assuming the role of executive director, I look forward to joining these talented researchers and charting the institute’s future course toward an even greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying cancer and the uncovering of new possibilities in its prevention and treatment.”

Clarke will be the sixth executive director to lead The Hormel Institute since it was founded by Jay C. Hormel in 1942 and gifted to University of Minnesota. Dr. Ann Bode, who currently serves as interim executive director, will continue to provide support throughout the transition. Events planned for the fall will allow the community, partners, and stakeholders to meet the new executive director.

Dr. Leena A. Hilakivi-Clarke, a professor of oncology at Georgetown University, will also join The Hormel Institute as a section leader. Hilakivi-Clarke’s research involves studying the role of diet in breast cancer and women’s health.

“We look forward to welcoming Dr. Robert Clarke and Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke to our community to further the great success and progress of The Hormel Institute,” said Jeffrey M. Ettinger, chair of The Hormel Foundation. “The institute is a beacon of hope in that its research is dedicated to discoveries that accelerate answers to cancer. It is a noble mission that The Hormel Foundation has supported for over 75 years, and we thank Dr. Clarke for taking on this important responsibility.”