Allegheny Health Network taps longtime UPMC surgeon to help guide $300M investment in cancer care – Tribune-Review

Highmark’s Allegheny Health Network has tapped a longtime UPMC cancer surgeon to help guide its $300 million-plus investment into cancer care across Western Pennsylvania.

Dr. David L. Bartlett, an internationally renowned cancer surgeon affiliated with UPMC since 2001, has accepted the position as chair of AHN Cancer Institute, AHN officials announced Wednesday in a news release.

Bartlett is set to assume the key leadership post next spring.

As the Institute’s chair, Bartlett will oversee more than 200 doctors and 500 oncology health workers as well as AHN’s oncology-related laboratory research programs and clinical trials.

The Institute reaches more than 11,000 patients and provides more than 150,000 cancer treatments annually, with 24 clinical sites across the region.

He’ll be there to celebrate the opening of the Institute’s Academic Center, an $80 million construction project underway to complement a new cancer genomics lab and immunotherapy programs at AHN’s flagship Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh’s North Side.

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead and help further advance such a distinguished and vital program,” Bartlett said in a statement.

Bartlett’s transition comes as UPMC and Highmark continue to compete for market share. The multibillion-dollar Pittsburgh-headquartered nonprofit health system rivals each control both provider and insurance arms and are moving on rapid expansion plans.

In the past two years, the AHN Cancer Institute has hired 200 more caregivers — including doctors, nurses and other clinical staff — to manage the increase in patient volume, AHN officials said.

AHN and Highmark Health have made a $300 million commitment to strengthening cancer treatment options.

Three new AHN regional cancer care centers opened earlier this year, including community-based facilities in Monroeville and Butler and Beaver counties. Two more, in Erie and Hempfield, are on track to open in coming months.

Bartlett’s first few months at AHN “will be focused exclusively on Institute leadership,” but Bartlett intends to resume his clinical practice at AHN down the road.

Cynthia Hundorfean, AHN’s president and CEO, described Bartlett as “a brilliant surgeon and a proven physician leader” with the ability to help develop “the next generation of cancer experts and pioneers.”

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome a physician of his caliber and immense accomplishments to our team, and look forward to further advancing our cancer program under his leadership,” Hundorfean said in a statement.

Bartlett has held several leadership roles with UPMC, including chief of surgery at UPMC Shadyside hospital, director of the David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center and the Benard Fisher Professor of Surgery at University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine. His affiliations have included Hillman Cancer Center, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital and UPMC St. Margaret hospital near Aspinwall. Last April, he was named president of the Society of Surgical Oncology.

Before UPMC, Bartlett was a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research, where he developed innovative surgical techniques to treat patients with abdominal and liver cancers, AHN officials said.

AHN announced last month that the Cancer Institute’s prior chair, Dr. David Parda, would take the helm as president of Allegheny General Hospital effective Jan. 1. Departing hospital president Dr. Jeffrey Cohen will shift to chief physician executive for Community Health and Innovation, a liaison between AHN and Highmark Health.

The moves follow this past summer’s announcement that one of AHN’s former top cancer doctors, Dr. Norman Wolmark, was taking a prominent position with UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh.

UPMC and Pitt officials announced in June that Wolmark was named professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and director of National Cancer Institute group clinical trials. Wolmark previously had served as director of the Allegheny Cancer Center and director of surgical oncology at Allegheny General Hospital and medical director of breast cancer-related research and clinical trials.

RELATED: Allegheny Health Network names new president of Allegheny General Hospital

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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