Dr. Kim Nguyen Chi, a renowned prostate cancer researcher and highly respected oncologist, will take over as head of the B.C. Cancer agency on July 1.
He is the first visible minority leader since the agency was established 45 years ago.
Chi, who went to medical school at the University of Ottawa, succeeds Dr. Malcolm Moore who announced four months ago that he would be leaving his post about a year early. Moore said he was moving back to Toronto for personal and professional reasons. The typical duration of such leadership positions is five years but the agency has had trouble keeping leaders. Dr. Max Coppes stayed in the job for two years and Dr. David Levy stayed just 18 months.
Chi came to B.C. in 1996 to do an oncology fellowship at BC Cancer, following an internal medicine residency in Ottawa.
BC Cancer has had a high churn rate for leaders and it has been criticized for too often choosing Americans over Canadians, and out of province experts over local ones.
In a press release, the agency says Chi understands the “intricacies of patient care and operations based on his current role as B.C. Cancer’s Director of Clinical Research and Medical Director for the Vancouver Centre.”
Chi has an interest in developing biomarkers and new treatments for those with the most advanced form of prostate cancer. He was a lead and collaborating author on some recently published studies on new drug treatments for men with metastatic prostate cancer.
Chi said he’s honoured to take over.
“As I step forward now, I do so with the profound understanding that B.C. Cancer is not about one person or one leader, it is about our tremendous history of achievement — of world-class research and knowledge translation and unparalleled patient care — made possible by the collective will of all of our clinicians, researchers and staff. I am proud to be the one who will take us forward in building on that legacy.”
Health Minister Adrian Dix called Chi an excellent choice.
“He understands firsthand the worlds of medical oncology and cancer research, but he also knows where B.C. Cancer has come from and where the opportunities lie to leverage the investments the B.C. government has made in cancer care to improve the lives of patients in every corner of our province.”
Chi started at the B.C. Cancer agency 20 years ago. He says the bond between patients and physicians is nowhere stronger than in cancer care “where you are helping a person navigate one of the most serious issues they will ever face.”
Chi’s official title will be Chief Medical Officer and head of B.C. Cancer as well as vice-president of the Provincial Health Services Authority, to which the cancer agency is accountable.
Chi takes over during a time of relative calm. That had not been the case in the past decade or two. Scientists and clinicians have in the past cited concerns about poor staff morale, long patient waiting times and inadequate government funding.
The B.C. government’s latest budget included increased funding for the cancer agency, earmarked for increased cancer-related surgeries, diagnostic imaging, expanded positron emission tomography and computerized tomography scans, and chemotherapy demands.
More to come…..