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Nancy E. Davidson, MD

President & Executive Director, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Senior Vice President, Director,
and Full Member, Clinical Research Division,
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Head, Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology,
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington
Member, BCRF Scientific Advisory Board

Current Research

  • Seeking to identify new targets to prevent late recurrence of hormone positive breast cancers.
  • Laboratory studies are ongoing to develop approaches to sensitize dormant breast tumor cells to chemotherapies.
  • These studies will lead to more effective therapeutic combinations to kill dormant tumor cells and micrometastases to prevent breast cancer from spreading.

Metastasis is the primary cause of deaths from breast cancer. Even after apparent curative therapy, a patient’s cancer can return, sometimes many years after therapy ends. Dr. Davidson is conducting laboratory studies focused on factors called kinases that may be important to drug resistance. Understanding how tumor cells can survive therapy to re-emerge as a new tumor many years later will allow for the development of targeted strategies to prevent metastasis. 

Full Research Summary

Many cancer patients will undergo “successful” curative surgery or treatment only to experience metastatic recurrence in the lung, bone, liver, or brain several years or even decades later. These late recurrences imply the existence of undetectable micrometastases that lie dormant, perhaps for years. Successfully eliminating these precursors of metastases before they emerge would be game changing, potentially eliminating late recurrences altogether.
In the upcoming year, Dr. Davidson and her team will work to discover biologically important molecules called kinases that are responsible for the therapeutic resistance of dormant cells that have spread. To do this, they are using sophisticated, comprehensive analyses of laboratory models. These studies will allow prediction of optimal combinations of kinase inhibitors that will kill dormant cells and micrometastases to prevent breast cancer from spreading.


Dr. Davidson is a world-renowned breast cancer researcher who serves as Senior Vice President and Director of the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, President and Executive Director of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and Head of the Division of Medical Oncology at the University of Washington.

Dr. Davidson has published key findings on the role of hormones, particularly estrogen, on gene expression and cell growth in breast cancer. She has guided several important national clinical trials of new therapies for breast cancer, including chemo-endocrine therapy for premenopausal breast cancer. Her research has been supported by a portfolio of funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She has authored over 350 articles in the top journals of her field.

An elected member of the Association of American Physicians and the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Davidson is an active member of the scientific advisory boards as well as external advisory boards of many foundations and cancer centers. She has also served as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) - the two largest organizations for cancer researchers and oncology professionals in the world. She was President of ASCO from 2007 to 2008 and President of AACR from 2016 to 2017.

Dr. Davidson earned her MD degree from Harvard Medical School and completed her internal medicine internship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Subsequently, Dr. Davidson completed a medical oncology fellowship at the NIH’s National Cancer Institute. She was a faculty member in the Department of Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1986 to 2009, serving as Director of the Breast Cancer Program from 1994 to 2009 and as the Breast Cancer Research Chair of Oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 1995 – 2009. From 2009-2016 she served as Hillman Professor of Medicine and associate vice chancellor for cancer research at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Grid Researcher Headshot - Davidson N

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The ANN INC. Award (a division of ascena retail group inc.)