Dartmouth Cancer Center Director elected to National Academy of Medicine

Steven D. Leach, MD

It’s incredibly meaningful to be recognized in this way—an unexpected dream come true, really.

Steven D. Leach, MD

Steven D. Leach, MD, Director of the Dartmouth Cancer Center and the Preston T. and Virginia R. Kelsey Distinguished Chair in Cancer at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine, has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

Election to the National Academy of Medicine is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. With its 100 new members (including 10 international members) announced this week at its annual meeting in Washington, DC, the NAM now has more than 2,500 members.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to be recognized in this way—an unexpected dream come true, really,” says Leach, who is also a Professor of Molecular and Systems Biology, Surgery, and Medicine at Geisel and serves as Associate Dean for Cancer Programs.

“As much as I feel honored, I’m also very humbled when I think of all the people who contributed to this—from early role models to my mentors and colleagues, and especially the more than 30 graduates of the Leach Laboratory who did so much of the work that’s being honored by my election.”

Leach was elected to the National Academy of Medicine for being an international leader in pancreatic cancer research, having made seminal research contributions in pancreatic cancer surgery, biology, genomics, and therapy over the past three decades. His research has run the gamut from very basic studies of pancreatic development using mouse and zebrafish, to more recent studies of human pancreatic cancer and how pancreatic cancer mutations engage the host immune system.

NAM’s new members are elected by current members through a process that recognizes individuals who have made major contributions to the advancement of the medical sciences, healthcare, and public health. A diversity of talent among NAM’s membership is assured by its Articles of Organization, which stipulate that at least one-quarter of the membership is selected from fields outside the health professions—for example, from such fields such as law, engineering, social sciences, and the humanities.

“It is my honor to welcome this truly exceptional class of new members to the National Academy of Medicine,” says NAM President Victor J. Dzau. “Their contributions to health and medicine are unparalleled, and their leadership and expertise will be essential to helping the NAM tackle today’s urgent health challenges, inform the future of healthcare, and ensure health equity for the benefit of all around the globe.”

Prior to joining Dartmouth Cancer Center, New Hampshire’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Leach held the David M. Rubenstein Chair and was the inaugural director of the Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Among his many scientific contributions and professional honors, Leach was named a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in 2018, and was elected to the Board of the Association of American Cancer Institutes in 2022. He has also served as chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board and as a member of the Princeton University Board of Trustees.


Leach earned his AB in Biology at Princeton University and his medical degree from Emory University. He completed his residency in general surgery and a postdoctoral research fellowship at Yale University, followed by a surgical oncology fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

About Dartmouth Cancer Center

Dartmouth Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine, with award-winning, personalized, and compassionate patient-centered cancer care and clinical trials based at the Norris Cotton Cancer Care Pavilion at Dartmouth Health's Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. With 14 locations around New Hampshire and Vermont, Dartmouth Cancer Center is one of only 56 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. Each year the Dartmouth Cancer Center schedules 74,000 appointments seeing more than 4,500 newly diagnosed patients, and currently offers patients more than 240 active clinical trials. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022, Dartmouth Cancer Center remains committed to excellence, outreach and education. We strive to prevent and cure cancer, enhance survivorship and to promote cancer health equity through pioneering interdisciplinary research and collaborations. Learn more at the Dartmouth Cancer Center website.

About Dartmouth Health

Dartmouth Health, New Hampshire's only academic health system and the state's largest private employer, serves patients across northern New England. Dartmouth Health provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH, as well as across its wide network of hospitals, clinics and care facilities. DHMC is consistently named the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in numerous clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth Health includes Dartmouth Cancer Center, one of only 56 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation, and the only such center in northern New England; Dartmouth Health Children’s, which includes Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the state’s only children’s hospital, and multiple clinic locations around the region; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene and New London, NH, and Bennington and Windsor, VT; Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and more than 24 clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. Through its historical partnership with Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine, Dartmouth Health trains nearly 400 medical residents and fellows annually, and performs cutting-edge research and clinical trials recognized across the globe with Geisel and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT. Dartmouth Health and its more than 13,000 employees are deeply committed to serving the healthcare needs of everyone in our communities, and to providing each of our patients with exceptional, personal care.