Meet Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, cancer research,
Earle A. Chiles Research Institute,
a division of Providence Cancer Institute
at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Center
Education and training
• B.S., Rutgers University
• Ph.D., UCLA School of Medicine
• M.D., University of Miami
• Medical oncology fellowship, National Cancer Institute
The opportunity to build an immunotherapy research program from scratch was a great attraction. Other key reasons were the vision and support of hospital leaders and major philanthropists Earle M. Chiles, Robert W. Franz and Elsie Franz Finley.
What's your dream for Providence Cancer Institute?
Our goal is to make a difference in the lives of our patients. We played a role in developing the first two immunotherapy agents approved by the FDA to treat cancer. We are working to develop new cancer therapies that help patients worldwide.
What are your hobbies?
Spending time with my grandsons, Ethan and Caleb - swimming, playing catch or chess, going to movies and attending their sporting events. I also enjoy golf and reading, especially biographies and history.
Who were your mentors?
My mother and father were great role models. Mom's battle with breast cancer had a major impact on my career and influenced how I care for my patients. I have been fortunate to have had many excellent professional mentors throughout my career.
What is the most exciting work taking place at Providence right now?
We are building a state-of-the-art immunogenomics program to integrate immunotherapy and other standard cancer therapies with genomics and bioinformatics for highly specialized care tailored to each patient.
Why does philanthropy matter to your work?
About 70 percent of cancer research at Providence is funded through philanthropy. None of us does this alone. Scientists, doctors, support staff, donors - we're all a team.
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