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Timothy Nywening, MD and Alan Kerr, MD Join Tampa General Hospital Cancer Institute

Published: Feb 28, 2022

The addition of surgical oncologist, Dr. Nywening, and medical oncologist and hematologist, Dr. Kerr, broadens the range of clinical care and research services provided by TGH Cancer Institute to patients diagnosed with complex cancers.

Tampa, FL (Feb. 28, 2022)Tampa General Hospital has announced that surgical oncologist and physician-scientist, Dr. Timothy Nywening, and medical oncologist and physician-scientist, Dr. Alan Kerr, have joined its TGH Cancer Institute – a center dedicated to elevating cancer care with a world-class team of renowned specialists from all disciplines.

“Since the establishment of the TGH Cancer Institute in April of 2021, our major emphasis has been to build a top-notch institute that excels in compassionate and state-of-the-art patient care and is a leader in translating the latest discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside. Physician-scientists are critical to achieving these goals, and as such, the recruitment of highly trained physician-scientists like Dr. Nywening and Dr. Kerr will accelerate our efforts to become a world-class cancer research institute,” said Dr. Eduardo M. Sotomayor, director, TGH Cancer Institute and a world leader in lymphoma research and treatment. Physician-scientists are physicians who focus a portion of their work on scientific research with the goal of driving innovation to bring new treatments to patients.

Timothy Nywening, surgical oncologist at TGH Cancer Institute, and assistant professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine

From St. Louis and Pittsburgh to Tampa

Nywening is no stranger to Florida. After obtaining his Master of Science in biochemistry and molecular cell biology from Georgetown University, Washington D.C., he earned his medical degree at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville. He later performed residency training in general surgery at Washington University’s Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis, followed by a surgical oncology research fellowship in hepatobiliary, pancreatic, and gastrointestinal surgery, also at Washington University, where he won the Eugene Bricker Chief Resident Teaching Award. He also obtained a master’s degree in population health sciences. He joined Dr. David Linehan’s world-renowned tumor immunology laboratory, where his research led him to earn first place at the Samuel A. Wells Resident Research Day at Washington University School of Medicine in both 2015 and 2016. In addition, he authored or co-authored several research publications in top-tier scholarly journals and presented his translational work at numerous conferences and professional meetings nationwide.

From 2019 to 2021, he completed two additional fellowships, first in complex general surgical oncology and then in hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) surgery (general surgical treatment for benign and malignant diseases of the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and bile ducts) at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center and the Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh, where he continued with his highly productive academic career as a surgical oncologist and a physician-scientist before joining TGH Cancer Institute.

As a skilled surgical oncologist, Nywening brings to TGH invaluable surgical experience in a new area for the hospital: the Hepatic Artery Infusion (HAI) pump, which delivers chemotherapy directly to the liver.

He also will help distinguish TGH Cancer Institute with complex liver and pancreas surgeries. In addition to his particular focus on metastatic liver disease, he will perform a broad range of surgical oncology services, including enhancing TGH’s services for hyperthemic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) – a procedure that treats certain cancers of the abdomen as well as therapies for advanced metastatic disease. “With HIPEC, Tampa General has a unique ability to offer patients with diseases they may have thought were inoperable a chance for an operation that can significantly prolong their life, if not curing them,” Nywening said. “Colorectal cancer is an area where a lot of progress has been made with this procedure. My hope is to play a role in enhancing TGH Cancer Institute’s HIPEC services.”

In joining the TGH Cancer Institute, Nywening’s top priority was to remain in an academic setting. “Tampa General and the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine provide the opportunity to remain on the cutting-edge of treatments and the ability to teach residents about surgical oncology. Being at a hospital that has this level of expertise, volume and critical infrastructure gives doctors the ability to offer the latest in clinical trials,” he said. “And I expect to bring early clinical trials to TGH Cancer Institute in collaboration with colleagues and biotech companies I have conducted research with in the past.”

“I am thrilled that someone with the credentials of Dr. Nywening, a highly productive and talented surgeon and physician-scientist, who was actively being recruited by many centers, decided to join TGH. His passion for translational research will benefit our cancer patients,” said Dr. Andreas Karachristos, chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and leader of the Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancer Program, who joined TGH and USF Health in 2019 from Fox Chase Cancer Institute. “I understand the importance of supporting and mentoring the next generation of highly skilled surgeons and physician-scientists who will continue with the legacy of bringing innovative therapies from the bench to the bedside to benefit cancer patients in our region and beyond.”

Nywening is an advocate of the cross-specialty collaboration and multidisciplinary approach that exists at TGH, with highly skilled radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, and pathologists creating the foundation of an exceptional cancer institute. He likens the role of a surgical oncologist to that of a quarterback. “The surgical oncologist lays out all the options to the patient, forming a generalized approach of where the patient should be – and how the team is going to get them there,” he said. “Then that person works with other experts on the team to develop a plan to provide the best possible care.”

With a sister who is a survivor of sarcoma (a type of cancer that starts in the bones or muscles), Nywening hopes to expand his laboratory and translational research to developing innovative clinical trials for soft-tissue sarcomas and melanomas as well. His overarching interest as an oncological surgeon always has been in treating patients with advanced diseases who have run out of therapeutic options and giving them renewed hope.

Alan Kerr, medical oncologist and physician scientist, TGH Cancer Institute

From Baltimore and Louisville to Tampa

A passionate expert in chemistry and biochemistry, Kerr has an undergraduate degree in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and a PhD degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from University of Louisville, Ky. While studying the role of steroid receptors, growth factor and signaling pathways in cancers, he rapidly realized the importance of translating basic scientific discoveries into patient care and found his calling to become a physician-scientist and implement “bench to bedside” translation. Translation, also known as translational medicine, refers to a discipline in biomedical research to evaluate new treatments and expedite all stages of drug development to enhance patient care.

Kerr received his medical degree from the University of Louisville School of Medicine and completed his residency training there in internal medicine, where he served as chief medical resident. In 2016, he completed a hematology and medical oncology fellowship program with Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida, where he served as chief fellow. He is no stranger to Tampa General Hospital, having done his continuity clinic work at the hospital with a focus on hematologic malignancies, in particular in lymphomas.

As a talented physician-scientist, Kerr has authored or co-authored original research publications in top-tier scientific and clinical journals and presented his translational findings, including seminal work in a rare form of hematologic malignancies named blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm, at numerous conferences in the U.S. and overseas.

In 2019, he joined the Advanced Cancer Treatment Centers (ACTC) in Brooksville, Fla., where he provided clinical care to an underserved rural patient population and continued with his research activities as principal investigator of several clinical trials for patients with solid malignancies and lymphomas.

“The cancer field is changing rapidly, and because Tampa General serves the Tampa Bay region and beyond, that will allow me to offer clinical trials to patients in areas who normally wouldn’t have access, especially patients with relapse/refractory disease,” Kerr said. “It’s heartbreaking when you see underserved patients not receive the level of care they need. But with all the resources Tampa General has, we are in a unique position to provide care to these patients in need. For me, that is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my work.”

The opportunity to be a key team member of a nationally and internationally recognized Lymphoma Program at TGH Cancer Institute is another factor. “Dr. Kerr is well-versed in basic/translational research as well as in clinical research protocols and, as such, he will be at the epicenter of applying scientific discoveries to the development and implementation of new ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat lymphomas. We are truly fortunate to bring a physician scientist of his expertise back home to Tampa General,” said Sotomayor.

Kerr already knows the Tampa General’s culture of excellence, and he is looking forward to being part of a multidisciplinary team comprised of physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, residents and students, and pharmacists “When you have different providers looking at cases from different angles and points of view, it provides a true benefit to our patients,” he stated.

The ability to return to an academic medical center to teach and be actively involved in giving resident lectures, board reviews for residents, working with residents and fellows in clinic, and providing inpatient care is especially exciting for Kerr. “I have a strong desire to have residents and fellows directly involved in clinical practice and translational research,” he added. “That helped me learn a lot during my own training.” 

“Physician scientists of the caliber of Dr. Kerr and Dr. Nywening are a strong addition to the world-class cancer care team we are building at TGH Cancer Institute. With their leading-edge clinical care and research, they provide yet another reason for patients around the region to seek state-of-the-art treatment at Tampa General Hospital and our Cancer Institute,” said Dr. Abraham Schwarzberg, chief of oncology and senior vice president of network development at Tampa General.

Kerr and Nywening, together with the TGH Cancer Institute physician team, will offer a highly coordinated range of multidisciplinary specialties such as hematologic malignancies, stem cell and cellular therapies, as well as thoracic oncology, breast, colorectal and gynecologic oncology.

Advanced subspecialties will be offered as well, including liver and hepatobiliary oncology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and genitourinary (reproductive system and genitourinary tract). Tampa General will continue to take a multidisciplinary approach and will strongly emphasize compassionate and personalized care that focuses on the whole patient. For more information about the Tampa General Hospital Cancer Institute, visit https://www.tgh.org/institutes-and-services/cancer-institute.

ABOUT TAMPA GENERAL HOSPITAL
Tampa General Hospital, a 1,041-bed non-profit academic medical center, is one of the largest hospitals in America and delivers world-class care as the region’s only center for Level l trauma and comprehensive burn care. Tampa General Hospital is the highest-ranked hospital in the market in U.S. News & World Report's 2021-22 Best Hospitals, and one of the top 4 hospitals in Florida, with five specialties ranking among the best programs in the United States. The academic medical center’s commitment to growing and developing its team members is recognized by two prestigious 2021 Forbes magazine rankings – America’s Best Employers by State, third out of 100 Florida companies and first among health care and social organizations and 13th nationally in America’s Best Employers for Women. Tampa General is the safety net hospital for the region, caring for everyone regardless of their ability to pay, and in fiscal 2020 provided a net community benefit worth more than $182.5 million in the form of health care for underinsured patients, community education and financial support to community health organizations in Tampa Bay. It is one of the nation’s busiest adult solid organ transplant centers and is the primary teaching hospital for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. With five medical helicopters, Tampa General Hospital transports critically injured or ill patients from 23 surrounding counties to receive the advanced care they need. Tampa General houses a nationally accredited comprehensive stroke center, and its 32-bed Neuroscience, Intensive Care Unit is the largest on the West Coast of FloridaIt also is home to the Jennifer Leigh Muma 82-bed Level IV neonatal intensive care unit, and a nationally accredited rehabilitation center. Tampa General Hospital’s footprint includes 17 Tampa General Medical Group Primary Care offices, TGH Family Care Center Kennedy, TGH Brandon Healthplex, TGH Virtual Health and 19 outpatient Radiology Centers. Tampa Bay residents also receive world-class care from the TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track network of clinics, and they can even receive home visits in select areas through TGH Urgent Care at Home, powered by Fast Track.  As one of the largest hospitals in the country, Tampa General Hospital is the first in Florida to partner with GE Healthcare and open a clinical command center that uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve and better coordinate patient care at a lower cost.  For more information, go to www.tgh.org.