Georgia Research Alliance names cancer institute director a GRA Eminent Scholar

By Holly Korschun | Sep. 13, 2013

Story image

Walter J. Curran, Jr. is the newest Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and GRA Chair in Cancer Research.

The Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) has named Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and Chair in Cancer Research.  

In addition to directing Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center, Curran is professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology in Emory University School of Medicine. He also serves as group chair and principal investigator of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, an NCI-funded cooperative group, a position he has held since 1997. Beginning in 2014, he will serve as one of three inaugural group chairs and principal investigators of NRG Oncology, a newly formed NCI-supported research network group.  

Curran has been a principal investigator for more than 30 NCI-supported grants and is considered an international expert in the management of patients with locally advanced lung cancer and malignant brain tumors. He has led several landmark clinical and translational trials in both areas and is responsible for defining a universally adopted staging system for patients with malignant glioma and for leading the randomized trial that defined the best therapeutic approach to patients with locally advanced lung cancer.  

In 2012 the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children honored Curran with a "Visionary Award" for helping bring a proton beam therapy treatment center to Atlanta. The center, which is the first in Georgia and one of only a dozen in the United States, is currently under construction in Midtown and is expected to open in 2016.  

"Wally Curran has been an exceptional leader of team-based science, not only at the Winship Cancer Institute but also within cooperative clinical trials programs nationwide," says C. Michael Cassidy, president and CEO of the GRA. "I am proud to welcome him as our GRA Eminent Scholar, and I am confident he will continue to make Georgia a trailblazer in cancer discovery and advanced treatments for patients."  

"As executive director of Georgia’s only NCI-designated cancer center, Wally Curran continues to break new ground for Emory and its patients and for the field of radiation oncology nationally and internationally," says Wright Caughman, MD, Emory executive vice president for health affairs, CEO of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center and chairman of Emory Healthcare. "I am extremely proud of his accomplishments and he is most deserving of this recognition and support from the GRA."  

Curran is the only radiation oncologist to have ever served as director of an NCI-designated cancer center. He is a Fellow of the American College of Radiology and has been awarded honorary memberships in the European Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology and the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology. According to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, Curran ranked 34th overall among all individual recipients of National Institutes of Health grant awards as principal investigators in 2012, first among investigators in Georgia, and first among cancer center directors.  

Curran has authored or co-authored more than 600 abstracts and scholarly papers, as well as numerous presentations, reviews and book chapters. His publications have been cited more than 21,000 times. He serves as the founding secretary/treasurer of the Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups and a board member of the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Education (Georgia CORE).  

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Curran received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and is a Board Certified Radiation Oncologist. He completed his residency at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Prior to his arrival at Emory in 2008, he served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania and of Jefferson Medical College as professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology.  

The Georgia Research Alliance is a model public-private partnership among Georgia research universities, business and state government. GRA expands research and commercialization capacity in Georgia’s universities to attract Eminent Scholars, launch new companies, create high-value jobs and transform lives. By driving the state’s strategy to develop a technology-rich economy, GRA plays a distinct role in Georgia’s overall economic development.  Learn more at www.gra.org.