Episode 198: Dr. Joe Ramos Talks About Cancer Care in Louisiana

Louisiana has a higher incidence of cancer and a lower rate of survival than most states, so it’s more important than ever for the state’s healthcare providers to coordinate efforts to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The director of the LSU LCMC Health Cancer Center and director and CEO of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center breaks down the statistics, discusses revolutionary new therapies, and gives an update on efforts to bring a National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Center to the state.


Dr. Ramos holds dual roles as Director of the LSU LCMC Health Cancer Center and Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Louisiana Cancer Research Center. Both organizations benefit from Dr. Ramos’ years of cancer research experience and commitment to collaborative efforts to promote cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survivorship.  

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Ramos leads the LSU LCMC Health Cancer Center as it seeks to join the prestigious group of 72 NCI Designated Cancer Centers in the United States supported by the National Cancer Institute. This designation recognizes cancer centers that take a comprehensive approach at reducing the cancer burden for the populations they serve by developing high impact research programs to better prevent, detect, treat, and ensure the best quality of life for those living with cancer. NCI Designation will enable LSU LCMC Health Cancer Center to become the premier cancer center in Louisiana by providing cutting edge clinical trials, educating the next generation of diverse researchers, and delivering evidence-based patient-centered research data to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer throughout the state.

Ramos also oversees the Louisiana Cancer Research Center (LCRC) and leads it in its mission to work across institutional boundaries to reduce the impact of cancer throughout Louisiana and the Gulf region. Participating organizations are LSU Health New Orleans, Tulane University, Xavier University and Ochsner Health. Dr. Ramos oversees the partnership between LSU LCMC Health Cancer Center and LCRC to fully align their efforts to tackle the profound challenge cancer presents across the state.

Previously, Dr. Ramos was with the University of Hawaii at Mānoa where he has held various leadership positions including Deputy Director and Interim Director. The University of Hawaii Cancer Center has had continuous NCI designation for 25 years and has a deep history of engagement in health disparities and clinical research.

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Dr. Ramos is a respected expert on cancer signaling and metastasis. The Ramos lab mission is to determine the underlying mechanisms that control cancer cell invasion and to exploit this knowledge in drug development. Dr. Ramos’ research has focused on understanding how oncogene activated signal transduction pathways affect cell adhesion and migration with an emphasis on defining the molecular functions of the Ras/ERK MAP kinase pathway and integrins in proliferation and cancer cell invasion. Dr. Ramos is currently examining the dysregulation of cell signaling in glioblastoma, skin cancer, and bladder cancer and developing drugs to block growth and invasion of these tumors.  Because of his research, we better understand how cell adhesion mechanisms drive developmental and pathological processes and have validated some of these mechanisms as targets for novel therapeutic interventions. He holds patents on some of these compounds. He serves on several national and international grant review boards and is an editor at the journal Plos One. His work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the American Cancer Society, and the U.S. Department of Defense, among others. He holds a doctorate in cell biology from the University of Virginia Medical School in Charlottesville, Virginia and did his post-doctoral research at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California.

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