President Obama Nominates Mack Roach to National Cancer Advisory Board

Internationally Recognized Expert Uses Radiation to Treat Prostate Cancer

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate UCSF's Mack Roach III, MD, FACR, an internationally recognized expert on using radiation to treat and manage prostate cancer, to the National Cancer Advisory Board.

“I am grateful these accomplished men and women have agreed to join this Administration, and I’m confident they will serve ably in these important roles," Obama said in a White House statement. “I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”

The National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) advises and assist the director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) about the national cancer program. By law, the NCAB must review and approve grants (second-level review) before they can be awarded by the NCI.

"I am truly honored to be asked to serve and will do my best to make a difference," Roach said about his nomination.

Roach has worked as a professor of radiation oncology and urology at UCSF since 2000. In addition, he has served as the chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at UCSF since 2007. His previous positions at UCSF’s Department of Radiation Oncology include associate professor in residence from 1994 to 2000 and assistant professor in residence from 1990 to 1994. 

Roach served on the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors and currently serves on the National Comprehensive Cancer Guidelines Committee for Prostate Cancer. In 2008, he joined the Board of Directors for the California Division of the American Cancer Society. Roach is a Fellow of the American College of Radiology.

Roach has been a crusader in efforts to reduce health care disparities in outcomes for underserved population for more than 20 years. He served as principal investigator on a National Cancer Institute Health-Care Disparity Planning Grant designed to address the issue of inferior outcomes for minorities and other underserved populations.

He has authored or co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and/or editorials. Roach also has served on numerous the editorial boards and in 2008, he joined the Board of Directors for the California Division of the American Cancer Society.

He is a recipient of numerous awards, such as the American Cancer Society Career Development Award, the UCSF Health Net Wellness Award, and the First Community Service Award. Roach received a B.S. degree from Morehouse College and an M.D. degree from Stanford University.

An Artistic Physicist

An artist at heart, Roach grew up being inspired by 1960s San Francisco, where he anticipated devoting his life to drawing and painting. But he was also fascinated with physics.

Armed with his father’s advice — “Whatever you do, be the best,” he always said — Roach headed to Morehouse College in Atlanta to study physics. His career path ultimately returned him to his hometown, as a radiation oncologist at UCSF’s Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Radiation oncology gives me an opportunity to be an artistic physicist,” said Roach. “I use physics and computers to draw pictures, to create dose distributions in three dimensions that can reduce the risk of complications in the people we treat and that can increase their chances of survival.”

Roach finds working with cancer patients inspiring, not depressing. “Cancer patients teach you that the human spirit overcomes all,” he said.

But what really broadens Roach’s smile is leading the radiation oncology team at UCSF’s Diller Center. “It’s one of the best places on planet Earth to be treated for cancer,” he said.

The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center combines basic science, clinical research, epidemiology/cancer control and patient care from throughout the UCSF system. The “comprehensive” designation — the National Cancer Institute’s highest ranking — is awarded after a rigorous evaluation process which shows that the center pursues scientific excellence and has the capability to integrate diverse research approaches to cancer.

UCSF’s long tradition of excellence in cancer research includes the Nobel Prize-winning work of J. Michael Bishop, MD, UCSF chancellor emeritus, and Harold Varmus, MD, who discovered cancer-causing oncogenes. Their work opened new doors for exploring genetic abnormalities that cause cancer, and formed the basis for some of the most important cancer research happening today.

Read more about Roach on the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center website