The Hormel Institute welcomes Dr. Robert Clarke

Published 5:01 pm Monday, August 31, 2020

Dr. Robert Clarke joined The Hormel Institute as its sixth executive director Monday. 

Clarke is a recognized world leader in cancer research and will lead the Institute’s next era of scientific advancement to further knowledge around the mechanisms of cancer development and better ways to prevent, detect and treat cancer. 

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

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Work is underway to move Clarke’s research labs to The Hormel Institute UMN along with his team of scientists. Dr. Leena Hilakivi-Clarke will also join The Hormel Institute to head a research lab. Her research studies the role of diet in breast cancer and women’s health. 

In addition to his role as executive director, Clarke holds a faculty appointment with the University of Minnesota Medical School, which also began Monday. Clarke was previously a professor of oncology and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Care Center in Washington, D.C. 

“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,” said Dr. Chris Cramer, UMN Vice President for Research. 

Roland G. Gentzler, Treasurer of The Hormel Foundation, chaired the search committee that hired Clarke as the new director after a national search. Dr. Ann M. Bode, former associate director of The Hormel Institute, served as interim executive director from May 2019 to August 2020 and will assist in the transfer of leadership. 

Over the next few weeks, Clarke will continue to meet with faculty and staff from The Hormel Institute and leadership from University of Minnesota, as well as with collaborators from Masonic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, The Hormel Foundation and regional/ local leaders. As COVID-19 allows, community members will be invited to meet Clarke at events planned throughout the fall and spring. 

“I look forward to working with the talented researchers at The Hormel Institute and charting the Institute’s future course toward an even greater understanding of cancer and the uncovering of new possibilities in its prevention and treatment,” Clarke said.