Tess Cummings Named New Associate Director for Research Administration

After a national search, we are pleased to announce Theresa (Tess) Cummings, RN, DBA, CCRP as the new Associate Director for Research Administration at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, effective November 1, 2023.

In this role, Dr. Cummings is a member of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center’s Senior Leadership Team. She will plan and direct all aspects of the research enterprise’s operational policies, objectives, and initiatives, including serving as the primary administrative liaison between UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the academic departments at Pitt for faculty affairs. Dr. Cummings will help to plan and accomplish strategic goals aligned with the mission of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, ensure optimal assembly and use of resources and compliance with established regulations (state, federal, accreditation agencies, etc.), including participating in budgetary management, and will facilitate communication among the various constituencies of a diverse and engaged research and clinical oncology community.  Dr. Cummings will also represent UPMC Hillman Cancer Center research to other institutions and on behalf of the Director, as needed and directed.

Dr. Cummings previously served as the Vice President of Clinical Research Operations & Strategy at UPMC Hillman. In this role, she successfully provided operational oversight of our cancer center’s Clinical Research Service (CRS), including all elements of our more than 400 ongoing oncology clinical trials.  She was a member of our executive management leadership team effectively working UPMC senior management, clinical research faculty, and all levels of staff at the University of Pittsburgh and at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center locations.

Dr. Cummings has over 20 years of experience in clinical research, interacting with faculty members and partnering healthcare administrators to facilitate the conduct of oncology trials at multiple system locations. Prior to joining UPMC Hillman, she served as the Director of the Clinical Protocol Office at Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and as Senior Clinical Research Advisor to the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Research at the University of North Carolina. Before that, she was the Administrator of Clinical Research Operations at the University of Maryland’s Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center. She also led several Contract Research Organizations Phase 1 Healthy Normal Volunteer clinics and served as Vice Chairperson and Board Member at Advarra (formerly Schulman Associates) IRB.

She has extensive leadership experience managing large groups of employees, as well as interactions with government regulators and auditors. She is an active member of the academic enterprise, serving as a technical reviewer for academic clinical trial offices and for the National Cancer Institute. She is also an active member of the American Association of Cancer Institutes, serving on their Shared Investigator Platform Task Force, as well as their Steering Committee for Clinical Research Initiatives.

Dr. Cummings earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Georgetown University, an MS in Nursing Education from University of Maryland School of Nursing, and a Doctorate in Business Administration from University of Maryland Global Campus.

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