OHSU selects nanoengineer to lead institute's early cancer detec - KPTV - FOX 12

OHSU selects nanoengineer to lead institute's early cancer detection program

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Sadik Esenerwill direct OHSU's Center for Early Detection Research Sadik Esenerwill direct OHSU's Center for Early Detection Research
OHSU Knight Cancer Institute OHSU Knight Cancer Institute

He says he wants to make a dent in cancer.

But, the man Oregon Health & Science University just hired to lead their Center for Early Detection Research may not have the title you'd expect.

He's not an oncologist, but a nanoengineer. OHSU said their decision shows they’re looking to do things differently when it comes to cancer research, and they believe Sadik Esener is the man they want to lead the charge.

Administrators said this decision comes a matter of months after OHSU’s completion of the $1 billion Knight Cancer Challenge, from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and his wife, Penny.

“Doctor Esener has worked in computer engineering, in nanotechnology and with cancer biologists. He has all of the traits of someone we really wanted on the team,” said Brian Druker, director of OHSU's Knight Cancer Institute. 

Esener was born in Turkey, raised in France and was a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California San Diego. OHSU administrators said his achievements range from developing diagnostic biochips, to creating nanoscale cancer fighting “smart bullets” that deliver treatment to tumor cells.

“It’s a very exciting job,” said Sadik Esener. “The time is right to build up early cancer technology, there’s a convergence of many technologies coming together.”

Personally, Esener says he knows how ineffective current treatments can be. He lost both his wife and mother to cancer.  

“What I have learned through that experience, is that it’s a very painful process. The suffering is terrible,” said Esener. “So, yes, I want to make a dent in cancer.”

Among his first responsibilities at the institute, Esener said he will recruit some 20 to 30 world class scientists to help with his pioneering work. Their goal will be to detect lethal cancers when they are most treatable.   

“We want to do in a clever way, carefully, make a road map and we want to build a team that’s coherent,” said Esener.

Druker said all of this research will eventually be done in a new building along the south waterfront. Construction is set to break ground in June and the building is slated to open in July 2018. 

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