Ayyappan, Chandrasekharan take on cancer center leadership roles

Sabarish Ayyappan, MD, and Chandrikha Chandrasekharan, MBBS, both medical oncologists in the Division of Hematology, Oncology, and Blood & Marrow Transplantation, have each taken on a leadership role in two of the multidisciplinary oncology groups (MOGs) within the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center (HCCC). Ayyappan now leads the Lymphoma MOG, and Chandrasekharan now leads the Gastrointestinal MOG, after Brian Link, MD, and Daniel Berg, MD, each stepped down from their respective role.

MOGs have been a central organizing structure within the HCCC for some time. In this video from 2013, Mo Milhem, MBBS, lists the MOG members and the group’s goals. Milhem defines each of the now 15 MOGs as “dedicated cancer teams,” committed to working as a unit to coordinate and maximize the strengths of each member for each specific type of cancer. These members include a surgeon, a radiologist, a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, and a researcher.


Ayyappan said he looks forward to progressing the clinical research and treatments for lymphoma patients. “As a leader I will be facilitating and leading the process of reviewing the clinical research activities that are going on in lymphomas.” He explained that as part of a patient’s care, the MOGs constantly review novel clinical trials, and look at newer technologies and treatment options that can be offered to patients along with standard of care options. “As a team, we review ongoing studies, prioritize our clinical research focus, and channelize resources to participate in cutting-edge research.”

Chandrasekharan is also excited to step into a leadership role at the HCCC, after recently stepping down as section chief of hematology/oncology at the Iowa City VA Health System. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve in this role for the cancer center and for our patients. We have an excellent multidisciplinary team doing some amazing work in Iowa already.” She said that with the support and guidance of the entire GI cancer team, she hopes to expand clinical research and the number of clinical trials for patients.

She cites the first GI Oncology research symposium in October as another opportunity for growth. “Providing excellent patient care remains our top priority. Towards this goal, we will prioritize improving clinic access for our patients further and collaborating with our partners in the community closely.” A dedicated oncologist and inspiring leader herself, Chandrasekharan has a reputation for providing outstanding and timely clinical service, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Milhem said he trusts “these esteemed physicians’ knowledge and experience,” as they take on their new roles. “Their compassion for their patients and respect for their colleagues’ contributions will be essential and make them successful.”

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