Personalized Cancer Therapy

My Cancer Genome

Thoracic/Head and Neck Cancer Research Program

Cancer Biology


Honors & Awards

Research Description


William Pao, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine, Cancer Biology, and Pathology/Microbiology/Immunology
Cornelius Abernathy Craig Chair in Medical and Surgical Oncology
Director, Division of Hematology/Oncology
Director, Personalized Cancer Medicine

Dr. Pao is a physician-scientist with a special interest in thoracic oncology. Dr. Pao's research focuses on identification of genes involved in the pathogenesis of lung tumors and stratifying tumors into clinically relevant molecular subsets. Using information derived from these experiments, Dr. Pao seeks to improve treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. His research has yielded important insights into mechanisms of lung tumor sensitivity and resistance to inhibitors of the epidermal growth factor receptor. 

Dr. Pao is the author of over 50 publications, is actively involved in numerous professional associations including the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and has served as a journal editor for PLoS Medicine, Cancer Research, and the Journal of Clinical Oncology.


Research Specialty

The Pao Laboratory aims to perform translational research in the area of solid tumor biology, using lung cancer as a paradigm. The overall goal is to develop molecularly-tailored treatments for patients with lung cancer.


Clinic Research Description

The identification of genetic abnormalities that initiate and sustain cancers has paved the way to a new era of personalized anti-cancer therapies which are more effective than current approaches with fewer side effects.  We aim to shape the practice of cancer medicine, envisioning a day when anti-cancer treatment will be assigned according to the genetic makeup of patients' tumors rather than on an empiric basis.


Research Focus

  1. Defining further molecular subsets of lung cancers, based primarily upon mutational profiling of the oncogenome in tumor samples.
  2. Elucidating other mechanisms of sensitivity and resistance to EGFR inhibitors in lung cancer. For example, we recently showed that in drug-sensitive EGFR mutant lung cancer cells, induction of BIM is essential for apoptosis triggered by EGFR kinase inhibitors. These data imply that the intrinsic pathway of caspase activation may influence sensitivity and/or resistance of EGFR mutant lung tumor cells to EGFR kinase inhibition.
  3. Identifying ways to overcome resistance to gefitinib and erlotinib. We have generated mouse lung tumor models driven by EGFR T790M mutants and which are resistant to erlotinib. We are now using these models to uncover agents and strategies that overcome acquired resistance to the T790M amino acid change.



Yale University, MD, PhD
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Board Certification
Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology

Administrative Contact

Division of Hematology/Oncology
2220 Pierce Avenue
777 Preston Research Building
Nashville, TN  37232-6307 
Phone:  615-343-9454
Fax:  615-936-2236

Patient Contact

Henry-Joyce Cancer Clinic
1301 Medical Center Drive, Suite 1710
Nashville, TN 37232-7415
Appointments: 615-936-8422
Further Information:  1-800-811-8480
Nurse: 615-936-8422
Fax: 615-343-8668