In my role as Vice President and Franchise Head, R&D, I lead the fam-trastuzumab deruxtecan-nxki programme at AstraZeneca accountable for the integrated development and commercial strategy of the compound. This exciting program addressing the needs of patients with HER-2 driven tumors is being developed in collaboration with our partner, Daiichi Sankyo, and is to become one of the largest and most exciting development programs currently in oncology.
A medical oncologist by training, I have extensive drug development experience from early phase trials to global filings, as well as strong management and leadership experience. At AstraZeneca, I’ve led development programmes exploring compounds in numerous tumour types including breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.
Throughout my career, I have focused on building strong, collaborative, and diverse teams where each team member feels valued and can bring their best self to the problem of solving cancer. I am a champion of diversity and inclusion and lead the Oncology Global Inclusion and Diversity Council at AstraZeneca. I am also passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education having served as a speaker at the USA Science and Engineering Festival, X-STEM Congress and USA Science and Engineering Festival.
Before joining AstraZeneca, I was Group Medical Director at Genentech responsible for leading clinical development for cobimetinib, a MEK inhibitor being explored in melanoma, as well as the clinical lead for all bevacizumab studies in gynecologic malignancies.
I have been an author and driven programs leading to numerous peer-reviewed publications in Lancet Oncology and New England Journal of Medicine. I am also a member of various professional oncology medical societies including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association for Cancer Research and the European Society of Medical Oncology.
After earning a medical degree in pathology and immunology from Boston University School of Medicine, I completed my medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
We will only achieve our bold ambition of eliminating cancer if we bring diversity of thought to the decision-making that aims to ultimately improve patient’s lives.
2017 - 2019
Served as Vice President for the Immuno-oncology lung cancer portfolio at AstraZeneca
2015 - 2017
Served as Executive Director responsible for the global clinical development of the olaparib programme across multiple diseases at AstraZeneca
2012 - 2015
Associate Group Medical Director at Genentech responsible for leading clinical development for cobimetinib (MEK inhibitor)
Overall survival in patients with platinum-sensitive recurrent serous ovarian cancer receiving olaparib maintenance monotherapy: an updated analysis from a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind phase 2 trial
Lederman JA, Harter P, Gourley C, Friedlander M, Vergote I, Rustin G, Scott C, Meier W, Shapira-Frommer R, Safra T, Matei D, Fielding A, Spencer S, Rowe P, Lowe E, Hodgson D, Sovak MA, Matulonis U. Lancet Oncology. 2016. 17(11): 1579
Combined Vemurafenib and Cobimetinib in BRAF-Mutated Melanoma
Larkin J, Ascierto PA, Dreno B, Atkinson V, Liszkay G, Maio M, Mandala M, Demidov L, Stroyakovskiy D, Thomas L, de la Cruz-Merino L, Dutriaux C, Garbe C, Sovak MA, Chang I, Choong N, Hack SP, McArthur GA, Ribas A. N Engl J. Med. 2014. 371(20):1867
Independent radiologic review of the Gynecologic Oncology Group Study 0218, a phase III trial of bevacizumab in the primary treatment of advanced epithelial ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer
Vandetanib Plus Chemotherapy for Induction followed by Vandetanib or Placebo as Maintenance for Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: A Randomized Phase II PrECOG Study (PrE0501)
OCEANS: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Phase III Trial of Chemotherpay With or Without Bevacizumab in Patients with Platinum-Sensitive Recurrent Epithelial Ovarian, Primary Peritoneal, or Fallopian Tube Cancer
Aghajanian C, Blank SV, Goff B, Judson P, Teneriello MG, Husain A, Sovak MA, Ying J, Nycum L. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2012. 30(17):2039-45
A phase I study of tasisulam sodium (LY573636 sodium), a novel anticancer compound in patients with refractory solid tumors
Simon GR, Ilaria RL Jr, Sovak MA, Williams CC, Haura EB, Cleverly AL, Sykes AK, Wagner MM, de Alwis DP, Slapak CA, Miller MA, Spriggs DR. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2011. Nov;68(5):1233-41
Rationally designed treatment for solid tumors with MAPK pathway activation: a Phase I study of paclitaxel and bortezomib using an adaptive dose-finding approach
Mehnert JM, Tan AR, Moss R, Poplin E, Stein MN, Sovak M, Levinson K, Lin H, Kane M, Gounder M, Lin Y, Shih WJ, White E, Rubin EH, Karantza V. Mol Cancer Ther. 2011. Aug;10(8):1509-19
Paclitaxel and carboplatin in the treatment of advanced or recurrent endometrial cancer: a large retrospective study
Sovak MA, Dupont J, Hensley ML, Ishill N, Gerst S, Abu-Rustum N, Anderson S, Barakat R, Konner J, Poyner E, Sabbatini P, Spriggs DR, Aghajanian C. Int J Gyn Onc. 2007. 17:197-203
Rational drug sequencing of paclitaxel, gemcitabine, and carboplatin in patients with untreated stage IV and select stage IIIB non-small cell lung cancer
Paclitaxel and carboplatin in the adjuvant treatment of patients with high-risk stage III and IV endometrial cancer: a retrospective study
Sovak MA, Hensley ML, Dupont J, Ishill N, Alektiar KM, Abu-Rustum N, Barakat R, Chi DS, Sabbatini P, Spriggs DR, Aghajanian C. Gynecol Oncol. 2006. 103:451-7