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Sledge's exit will keep IU program mostly intact

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The departure of Dr. George Sledge likely will sap the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center's breast cancer research program of about $500,000 in annual funding.

But the program that Sledge built over the past three decades mostly will remain intact even after he leaves in January to become director of the Division of Oncology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Sledge said he will maintain his laboratory at IU until late 2013, to avoid disrupting the progress of his two researchers. But after that time, he will likely move his lab and its roughly $500,000 in annual grant funding to Stanford.

Sledge said he plans to ask his researchers to join him, but does not yet know if they will make the move to California.

The IU breast cancer research program has 35 researchers and $9 million in annual funding. Sledge started the program when he joined the IU School of Medicine in 1983.

The team there has participated in clinical trials of some breakthrough drugs to treat breast cancer, including Taxol and Herceptin.

But it was the strong genomics program at Stanford—as well as the possibility of working with nearby biotech companies in Silicon Valley—that prompted Sledge to go west.

“Stanford offers me some opportunities that I wouldn’t have at IU,” said Sledge, emphasizing that he is not leaving because of any problem at IU. “It’s in the mecca for information technology. You’re surrounded by Silicon Valley. It’s got a cutting-edge genomics group. It’s got much of the world’s best biotech companies within 15-20 miles, which I drool over like a kid in a candy shop.”

Replacing Sledge as co-directors of the breast cancer research program are Dr. Kathy Miller, a longtime breast cancer researcher, and Harikrishna Nakshatri, a professor of surgery and of biochemistry and molecular biology at the IU School of Medicine.

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