David Fenstermacher, Ph.D.: Senior Director of Research & Medical Affairs

David Fenstermacher, the Alliance’s new Senior Director of Research & Medical Affairs, comes to us with a unique and eclectic professional history. A highly motivated biomedical researcher with over 18 years of senior management experience, David brings significant expertise to the Alliance. Not only is David’s work history multidisciplinary, but his ambition in his role to help overcome colorectal cancer is something worth talking about.

David’s Work History

To encompass all of David’s qualifications, we would likely have to write a book! With more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, 14 years in molecular biology research at the bench, and a lifetime in academia and the pharmaceutical industry, it is no wonder David has been consistently recruited throughout his professional career. 

From roles like Informatics Director for a global Genome Wide Association Study of Ovarian Cancer, to Chief Research Information Officer at Massey Cancer Center, to Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Moffitt Cancer Center, David brings a wealth of oncology knowledge to the forefront of the Alliance’s cause. 

What Drew David To Work with the Alliance? 

With so much experience, David could work almost anywhere of his choosing. Why, then, did he decide to work with the Colorectal Cancer Alliance? David shared his passion for working to improve healthcare outcomes, especially for those with a cancer diagnosis.

“It’s cancer in general — it’s all cancers. They’re all unique,” David said. “I’ve known people that have had CRC. It’s really about how we reduce barriers so that everyone can get the best possible treatment and improve outcomes. Healthcare is a partnership between the patient and healthcare provider. That partnership has to be improved for all patients with a CRC diagnosis to better understand how we can positively impact patient lives.”

After so many years in academia and pharmaceutical companies, David knew he wanted something different. He recalled a day he was browsing on LinkedIn and stumbled upon the Alliance’s job opening. 

“I wanted to make an impact on people rather than just writing papers or grants,” David said. “To make the quality of their lives better — whether in the short or long term — that’s the end goal. This job is fantastic. You know what you’re doing is changing patients’ lives. It doesn’t get any better than that.” 

A Day-In-The-Life as Senior Director of Research & Medical Affairs 

Similar to David’s professional past, his role as Senior Director of Research & Medical Affairs incorporates many different responsibilities. David manages the Alliance’s Chris4Life grant requests, where applicants regularly propose groundbreaking research projects to improve CRC outcomes. Last year alone, $425,000 in research grants were awarded, with an estimated one million dollars to be designated this year. 

“What I’d like people to know about these grants is that even some of the smaller grants we’ve awarded have had huge impacts on CRC research,” David said. “These researchers have taken some of the preliminary data generated through Chris4Life studies to successfully compete for larger grants from institutions like NIH and NCI.”

Helping fund life-changing research is merely one aspect of David’s role with the Alliance. He’s also working to create a national survey for CRC patients and caregivers, utilizing this information to better address the unmet needs of CRC patient populations. 

“I’m very interested in seeing how we can use data to drive precision medicine,” David said. “We are the second-leading funder of CRC research in the country. We need to make sure that decisions around resources are being made with the patient’s greatest needs in mind.” 

David, however, knows that data and funding are only two pieces to the puzzle. 

“We are also working on some independent research projects that get more tools and technologies to medical professionals to better interpret oncology data and improve treatment recommendations,” David said. “Additionally, we will be able to help patients gain greater awareness of alternative treatment options based on the molecular signature of each tumor.” 

One thing’s for sure. We know that if David’s time with the Alliance is anything like his career thus far, there will be a lot of positive changes in store for the CRC community moving forward. 

What David Hopes To Impress Upon the Public – Get Screened

We asked David, if there was one thing he could impress on the public as the Senior Director of Research & Medical Affairs, what would it be? His answer was simple.

“Get screened. This is a preventable cancer,” David said. “You don’t have to necessarily get a colonoscopy. There are tests out there that you can take that are non-invasive. Whatever screening a person will do is the screening they should do. You can’t prevent all cancers — so get screened.”

Outside of work, David loves to travel and scuba dive. He plans to bring this message with him wherever he goes. David has spent decades dedicated to oncology research, and he’s not about to stop now. 

Join us in welcoming David to the Alliance. Here, his message can be reverberated in every pillar of his work. As a tribute to his welcome, let’s make sure we’re out there getting screened



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