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Nora Disis
John Amory
February 1, 2024

Nora Disis passes directorship of ITHS to John Amory

After 12 years as founding director, Dr. Nora Disis will pass directorship of the ITHS to Dr. John Amory.
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Faculty Research

After twelve years as founding director, Dr. Mary (Nora) Disis, professor, (Hematology and Oncology) will pass directorship of the UW Institute of Translational Health Sciences (ITHS) to Dr. John Amory, professor (General Internal Medicine).

Funded by a grant from NIH, the ITHS brings together a variety of disciplines around the region including biomedical informatics, community engagement, translational science training, biostatistics, and clinical trials at the UW, the Fred Hutch, Seattle Children's Hospital, and other partners in the WWAMI region. 

Amory’s first years of leadership will be dedicated to building on the success established over the twelve years of Disis’ tenure.

“It has been an absolute pleasure being the founding Director of the Institute of Translational Health Sciences,” said Disis.  “I look forward to continue to work with Dr. Amory and the ITHS team on their upcoming grant renewal and multiple active projects we have initiated with our colleagues in the WWAMI region, at Meharry Medical School in Nashville, and participating in ITHS education and career development programs. John is the perfect person to take the ITHS into its next chapter of growing clinical and translational research here at UW and at all our partner institutions.”

Disis, an expert in the immunology and immunotherapy of breast and ovarian cancers with an emphasis on cancer vaccines, is also director of the UW Medicine Cancer Vaccine Institute, with which she said she will be plenty busy. “We have several new vaccine campaigns ongoing for diseases other than cancer," she shared. "It is very exciting times in translational research and the ITHS is the first place I will go for resources and help!”

As a clinician and clinical researcher, Amory is particularly interested in supporting early phase clinical research studies to test new treatments. Several studies have already led to FDA-approved therapies.

On being involved with these trials as a scientist, Amory remarked, “It's particularly gratifying to see a patient in clinic who is benefitting from a novel therapy that was studied in [our Translational Research Unit].”

Of particular interest are gene and cell-based therapies, which may allow physicians to potentially cure many diseases previously thought to be incurable, such as sickle cell anemia and some cancers. It’s “the next big wave,” Amory believes.

Upon transitioning into the directorship, Amory will step away from his long-time role as section head of UW Medical Center – Montlake. While the search for his successor is ongoing, Amory has no reservations about the section’s continued success: “I'm very excited for the UWMC Section! We have a wonderful new generation of leaders: Trang Vu in the GIMC, Nancy Simon in WHCC, Tiffany Chen in the Consult/Perioperative Clinic, and Carolyn Keller running the Hospital Medicine program.”

Noting that the section has doubled in size in the last decade, he stated, “It's also been extremely gratifying to have many UWMC faculty get promoted and flourish in their research, teaching, and clinical and administrative work. … Working with both [previous division head] Steve Fihn and [current division head] Geetanjali Chander and all of the Division faculty and administrative staff has been a delight. Best. Division. Ever.”