Cancer Phase I Trials Expert Carolyn D. Britten, MD, Named Director of Hematology/Oncology Division for Medical University of South Carolina

Britten continues as Associate Director for Clinical Investigations for the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center.

Carolyn D. Britten, MD

Carolyn D. Britten, MD, a noted expert in phase I cancer clinical trials, has been named Director of the Hematology/Oncology Division in the Department of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). She continues in her role as Associate Director for Clinical Investigations at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, one of 68 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers in the U.S.

Britten was recruited to MUSC in 2012 from the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she held several leadership positions from 2001 to 2012, including Associate Director of the Signal Transduction and Therapeutics Research Program. At MUSC, she holds the Charles Westfield Coker Endowed Chair in GI Oncology, which is part of the prestigious South Carolina SmartState Centers of Excellence. Since arriving at MUSC, Dr. Britten has spearheaded the development of a Phase I Clinical Trials Program that now includes a portfolio of more than 20 actively accruing trials for patients with advanced cancer.

Patrick Cawley, M.D., vice president for clinical operations at MUSC and chief executive officer for the MUSC Medical Center, commented, “I am excited to have Dr. Britten join the oncology senior leadership team in MUSC Health. She has a collaborative, approachable, and persistent style that makes her a successful leader. In addition, she is a noted scientist and clinician, and she will continue the Hollings Cancer Center tradition of bridging the research lab and clinical care which is vital in the care of cancer patients today.”

Originally from Canada, Dr. Britten received her medical degree from the University of Toronto, and completed internship, residency and chief residency at the University of Western Ontario. She subsequently trained in medical oncology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and completed a research fellowship in cancer drug development at the Institute for Drug Development at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She then joined the faculty at UCLA, where she developed their solid tumor Phase I clinical trials program.

“After joining MUSC in 2012, Dr. Britten quickly became a sought after collaborator among the scientists at Hollings,” according to Dr. Anthony J. Alberg, interim director of the Hollings Cancer Center. “With a keen insight into the latest scientific underpinnings of cancer, she has been able to work with our scientists to translate their laboratory findings directly into the clinic via clinical trials.

Not many places in the country can claim to have this capability, but the scientists at the Hollings Cancer Center, with Dr. Britten’s insight and leadership, have been able to do this.”

Dr. Britten has extensive experience in the medical oncology field at a national level. In addition to her Phase I clinical trials expertise, she specializes in the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers. Dr. Britten has served on multiple committees for the American Society of Clinical Oncology and is highly active in national oncology networks. She recently co-led Hollings Cancer Center’s effort to become one of 12 sites funded as a minority-based institutional site for the NCI Community Oncology Research Program which conducts multi-site, NCI-sponsored cancer clinical trials and cancer care delivery research studies.

In her new role as Director of the Hematology/Oncology Division, Dr. Britten has a vision to greatly expand the clinical services and research within the division through doubling the numbers of clinicians committed to clinical and translational research, leading the development of partnerships with regional community-based cancer programs to extend the specialized oncology services of the division, and refining the training within the division’s fellowship program to yield a new generation of medical oncologists equipped to practice in an era of targeted therapies.

According to Don Rockey, M.D., chair of the MUSC Department of Medicine, “We launched a national search for this critical leadership position within the Department and the Hollings Cancer Center, and it became clear to the search committee early on that we had one of the best and brightest talents in the field of medical oncology already in our own ranks. Dr. Britten brings great energy, passion and leadership to this position, and we all anticipate great things for both her and the division. I look forward to working with her, and I am certain that she is going to have a great impact within a short time frame not only within the institution, but also for the community we serve, in delivering the very best in patient-oriented cancer care.”

About Hollings Cancer Center

The Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and the largest academic-based cancer research program in South Carolina. The cancer center is comprised of more than 120 faculty cancer scientists with a research funding portfolio of $43 million and a dedication to reducing the cancer burden in South Carolina.

Hollings offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques within multidisciplinary clinics that include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists and other specialists equipped for the full range of cancer care, including more than 200 clinical trials. For more information, please visit

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