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Dr. Dorothy Graves Joins Sylvester as Assistant Vice President and Associate Director for Administration

Dorothy Graves, Ph.D., said she admired Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine years prior to being appointed Sylvester’s assistant vice president and associate director for administration in early 2022.

Dorothy Graves, Ph.D.
Dorothy Graves, Ph.D.

“I remember when Sylvester became NCI designated in 2019,” Dr. Graves said. “I was impressed with what Sylvester had built. It is especially well known for its community outreach and engagement, as well as its strong research programs.”

Dr. Graves spent five years in her previous leadership role as associate director for administration at Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. While in that role, Dr. Graves worked under the direction of three cancer institute directors and oversaw significant growth and development of the Institute’s administrative team to support all required infrastructure components for achieving NCI designation. She led recruitment of cancer research faculty and worked with cancer center and institutional leaders to secure a dedicated annual funding stream of more than $10 million to support efforts to attain NCI designation.

Dr. Graves was recruited as part of a national search led by Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., Sylvester director and holder of the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, Craig Moskowitz, M.D., physician in chief of the Oncology Service Line, Lazara Pagan, associate vice president and chief administrative officer, and additional Sylvester leadership. As associate director for administration at Sylvester, Dr. Graves oversees and supports the infrastructure needed to ensure that Sylvester remains one of 71 NCI-designated cancer centers in the U.S.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Dorothy Graves to the cancer center,” Dr. Nimer said. “Strong research operations are critical as Sylvester continues to evolve as a cancer center, create new research programs, further our clinical research services, recruit more outstanding faculty, and continue to improve our research facilities.”

Overseeing Infrastructure for Research Alignment

“NCI-designated cancer centers have distinct research programs that align all the different researchers and research projects within each center,” Dr. Graves said. “These designated centers have shared resources that support ongoing research, cancer research education and training programs, and community outreach engagement efforts. So, there are these different pieces that comprise an NCI-designated cancer center, and there must be an infrastructure to hold it together and facilitate growth and collaborations. As associate director for administration, I oversee that research infrastructure.”

Dr. Graves’ administrative responsibilities include facilitating clinical research, faculty recruitment, cancer research education and training, shared resources, research finance, grants management, scientific writing, internal communications, internal research funding programs, and direct support of the research programs and their collaborative efforts.

Dr. Graves works closely with the other associate directors and the research program leaders. She also collaborates with Sylvester oncology services and other UM areas, including communications, development, and government relations to ensure organization is in place for strategic growth.

“I oversee the administrative and operational piece for the scientific leaders to be sure that they can execute their vision and Sylvester’s strategic plan overall,” Dr. Graves said.

An Experienced Science Communicator

With a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Dr. Graves has a scientific background, in addition to her administrative experience. But she also has extensive experience in science communications. A recipient of a prestigious national science journalism fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Dr. Graves spent years in broadcasting, working for NPR-affiliated stations covering beats from science to education and legislation. She later worked as the medical editor for a statewide newspaper in Arkansas. For 13 years she hosted a live talk show about science on an NPR-affiliate and moderated a companion monthly community forum. She not only communicated science, but also taught it as an instructor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

“I’ve always been very information focused,” she said. “As I was getting my Ph.D., I realized I liked communicating and learning about science information more than being in the lab. I loved writing the grant and loved defending the grant in the dissertation process. What I love about research administration is it allows me to stay connected to the science. It allows me to help tell those stories. And most of all, I love being in a position where it’s my job to make it easy for our scientists to focus on what they do best.”

Dr. Graves said she is a big believer in systems improvement, and in the value of having a proactive, rather than a reactive, culture.

“It is a goal of mine to be strategic about how we are supporting our researchers, our science and our partnerships and collaborations moving forward,” she said. “It involves thinking about where we want to go next and having the systems and personnel in place to make that possible.”

Tags: Dr. Dorothy Graves, Dr. Stephen Nimer, Miller School of Medicine, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center