Cancer Researchers Join TGH Cancer Institute to Spearhead Basic Sciences and Translational Research | Tampa General Hospital

Cancer Researchers Join TGH Cancer Institute to Spearhead Basic Sciences and Translational Research

Published: Jun 20, 2023

Renowned as cancer research pioneers Dr. Warren J. Pledger, a molecular cell biologist, and Dr. Timothy Yeatman, a world-renowned translational investigator, will be leading the scientific and translational research endeavors at TGH Cancer Institute.


Tampa, FL (June 20, 2023)Tampa General Hospital is announcing the appointments of Dr. Warren Jackson “Jack” Pledger, a distinguished cancer researcher, as associate director of Basic Sciences, and Dr. Timothy Yeatman, a world-class physician-scientist, as associate director of Translational Research at TGH Cancer Institute.

“During the first two years of the TGH Cancer Institute we have successfully built world-class and compassionate multidisciplinary clinical care programs and established the pillars upon which we are rapidly building an innovative clinical research enterprise,” said Dr. Eduardo M. Sotomayor, director of TGH Cancer Institute. “As we are entering into our third year, our focus has expanded to the areas of basic sciences, and more importantly on how to translate scientific discoveries to the patient’s bedside. The recruitment of experienced cancer researchers and leaders of the stature of Dr. Jack Pledger and Dr. Timothy Yeatman will speed up the growth of these two areas at the TGH Cancer Institute, which are essential as we embark on a journey to achieve coveted designations at the state and federal level in the next few years,” Sotomayor said.

Timothy Yeatman, MD, PhD

Yeatman joined the TGH Cancer Institute from Intermountain Healthcare in Murray, Utah, where he served as executive medical director of Oncologic Services, senior medical director of the Oncology Clinical Program and professor, Clinical Investigator Track. He was also an adjunct professor of surgery and a member of the Cellular Response and Regulation Program, Huntsman Cancer Institute, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Center, at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. He is also a chief clinical officer at Phenome Health, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing a science- and data-driven approach to optimize the brain and body health of individuals.

The majority of Yeatman’s career was spent at Moffitt Cancer Center, where he served from 1999 to 2010 in multiple senior leadership roles, including associate director of Clinical Investigations, associate director of Translational Research and as chief architect of Moffitt’s partnership with Merck, a biopharmaceutical company, to establish M2Gen to transform cancer care by bringing together clinical data, tissue specimens, molecular data and analytics tools to advance precision medicine and cancer research. In addition, he has been on faculty with the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine since 1992 and is currently a professor in the Department of Surgery. At USF, he received the “million-dollar researcher’’ award in 2006 and holds numerous licensed patents. Additionally, he was the focus of the 2001 television documentary “The American Dream: A Young Surgeon’s One-Man War on Cancer.’’

“Throughout my career, I have been committed to helping patients build successful healthy lives through evidence-based practice,” Yeatman said. “The TGH Cancer Institute is founded on that principle and I look forward to working with the research and care teams at Tampa General to bring advanced care to help patients recover and live their best possible life.”

“I have known Dr. Yeatman for several years and enjoyed collaborating with him in our basic/translational labs as well as in providing multidisciplinary cancer care during the time we overlapped at Moffitt Cancer Center,” Sotomayor said. “I am thrilled that our paths are crossing again at TGH Cancer Institute, where he serves as associate director of Translational Research. In this role, he will be spearheading the rapid translation of basic scientific discoveries into clinical trials that will positively impact cancer care in our region and beyond. In addition, given his expertise in precision medicine and in education and training, he will be actively involved in the training of the next generation of physician-scientists in cancer, a much-needed type of researcher, which aligns perfectly with our vision for building a legacy in translational cancer research.”

Translational research takes scientific discoveries made in the laboratory and transforms them into new treatments and medical care.

He is currently working on active research programs on colorectal cancer funded by four NCI grants and has authored more than 200 research articles in top-tier scientific journals.

Yeatman is certified by the American Board of Surgery and is a member of the American Surgical Association, the Society of University Surgeons, the American College of Surgeons, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association for Cancer Research, the Society of Surgical Oncology and the Association for Academic Surgery.

Yeatman earned his medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta and holds a bachelor’s in Zoology and Psychology from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina. He completed his post-graduate education at the University of Florida, Gainesville and Jacksonville, Florida, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.

Jack Pledger, PhD

Pledger joins the TGH Cancer Institute after serving in many leadership roles in basic sciences at several prestigious academic institutions across the country, including two NCI-designated cancer centers. At Moffitt Cancer Center, Pledger served as deputy director, the Cortner-Couch Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, and the associate director for Basic Sciences. Basic sciences are any sciences fundamental to the study of medicine including anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and pathology.

A highlight of Pledger’s time at Moffitt was his work as the founding director of the Moffitt Research Institute from 2002 to 2007. Other roles included interim CEO/director and executive vice president. In addition, from 1994 to 2013 Pledger served as a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

In 2013 he was appointed professor in the Department of Immunology and Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, University of South Carolina in Columbia. More recently, at Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, a NCI-designated cancer research facility, Pledger was a member of the Cell Response and Regulation Program and professor in the department of Surgery at University of Utah.

“As a renowned molecular cell biologist and a natural leader, Dr. Pledger was instrumental in the development, administration and growth of top-notch scientific programs in several academic institutions that were fortunate to have him as the driver of their basic sciences enterprise,” Sotomayor said. “He clearly brings a wealth of experience and knowledge and we are excited to welcome him to help us build world-class cancer research scientific programs at TGH Cancer Institute. His stature in the field will be instrumental as we continue to grow and build on our successes achieved in the past two years,” Sotomayor said.

Serving as associate director of Basic Sciences Research, Pledger will assist the Cancer Institute’s director in providing leadership and in strategic planning to build innovative scientific research programs that would be differentiators in the region and beyond. He will be actively involved in establishing scientific collaborations locally, regionally and nationally, in the recruitment of top-notch cancer researchers from premier academic/scientific institutions nationwide and, working together with the associate director for shared resources in the establishment of innovative scientific cores to efficiently support TGH Cancer Institute’s members. 

“I welcome the opportunity to return to the Tampa Bay area,” Pledger said. “The TGH Cancer Institute has quickly become an entity that drives innovation to bring advanced cancer treatment and breakthroughs to patients, while treating each patient as a whole person,” he said. “I am looking forward to being a part of continuing to build Tampa General as a leader in cancer research and compassionate care.”

Pledger’s research focuses on the mechanisms governing cell cycle progression. He was the first to show that the cell cycle is regulated by a series of sequential events and to hypothesize that dysfunction of these events could trigger transformation or cancer. His pioneer studies demonstrated the role of growth factor-regulated cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity in the control of cellular proliferation, and used mouse models to explore the role of CDK activity in tumor formation. His recent projects address the impact of signal transduction pathway inhibition on tumor cell survival, and the hallmarks of cancer during the evolution of tumor progression seeking to find new therapeutic approaches.

Having received peer-reviewed research funding for more than 30 years, Pledger has held numerous National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NCI grants. He has been associate editor for numerous publications, including Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, American Journal of Physiology, Cancer Research, and Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. His professional memberships and appointments include the NIH Study Section – Cellular Biology and Physiology II, American Cancer Society – Institutional Research Grants Advisory Committee as well as many NIH and NCI review panels. The more than 150 articles Pledger has authored or co-authored have been published in top-tier scientific journals such as Nature, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Molecular Cell Biology among others.   

Pledger earned his PhD at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, and master’s of science and bachelor’s of science from the University of Houston.

“Adding two such prominent scientists is part of Tampa General’s philosophy of continuous improvement,” said Dr. Abraham Schwarzberg, senior vice president of oncology and network development and co-vice president of Clinical and Translational Research at Tampa General. “Dr. Yeatman and Dr. Pledger are recognized globally for their expertise,’’ he said. “Bringing these two leading cancer researchers on board underscores our priority to provide top-tier, innovative care to cancer patients in a leading academic medical center.’’

In December 2022, Tampa General announced that it had earned a three-year accreditation from the Commission on Cancer (CoC), a quality program established by the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Ranked among the top 10 percent of U.S. hospitals for cancer care according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-2023 rankings, the Tampa General Cancer Institute provides comprehensive care via groundbreaking therapies and advanced diagnostic imaging tools and is part of the hospital’s vision to be the safest and most innovative academic health system in America.


Through the TGH Cancer Institute, Tampa General and USF Health physicians offer a highly coordinated, interdisciplinary approach to quality patient care and provide a wide range of multidisciplinary specialties such as hematologic malignancies, bone marrow transplant, cell therapy, neuro-oncology, thoracic oncology, breast, colorectal and gynecologic oncology. Advanced subspecialties include liver and hepatobiliary oncology, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), and genitourinary (reproductive system and genitourinary tract). For more information about the TGH Cancer Institute, visit