Newswise — Caryn Lerman, PhD, is the new president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes. Dr. Lerman is the director of University of Southern California (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles and the associate dean for cancer programs and the H. Leslie and Elaine S. Hoffman Professor in Cancer Research at Keck School of Medicine of USC. She joined the AACI Board of Directors in 2019 and was elected vice president/president-elect in 2020. Dr. Lerman will begin her two-year term four months early due to Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, stepping down to become the new chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society. Dr. Lerman will formally announce her presidential initiative at the 2021 AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting in October.

“This is a time of rapid change — not only in cancer research, education, and patient care, but also in terms of social justice issues that we must tackle as we elevate our cancer centers and the national cancer program to the next level,” said Dr. Lerman. “I am looking forward to collaborating with AACI cancer centers to embrace change and address issues that matter most to them, including cancer equity and the diversification of the nation’s oncology leadership pipeline.”

Dr. Lerman’s experience in cancer center leadership spans more than 20 years. Internationally recognized for cancer prevention research that bridges the fields of genomics, pharmacology, and population science, she has deep knowledge of multiple frameworks of cancer discovery and innovation from basic and translational/clinical science to population-based research and biotechnology. A major focus of her research is on biology-driven science to reduce cancer risk behaviors.

An elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Lerman has served as a member of the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors, the National Human Genome Research Advisory Council, and the National Institutes on Drug Abuse Advisory Council. She is also past president of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco and has received numerous awards for her work, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Control Award, the American Society of Preventive Oncology Joseph Cullen Award, the Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Health, and the National Institutes of Health Matilda White Riley Award.

“I am very excited to work with Dr. Lerman. She has a passion for the work of cancer centers, and knows what it takes to be a leader,” said AACI Executive Director Jennifer W. Pegher. “As a researcher, clinician, and administrator, Dr. Lerman has a deep understanding of the needs of the talented individuals who work together to build and guide a cancer center, with the goal of reducing cancer in their communities and beyond.”


AACI’s mission is to accelerate progress against cancer by enhancing the impact of North America’s leading academic cancer centers. For more information, please visit