New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYU Langone hires new cancer center head following termination of former director

A researcher at NYU Langone Health became director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center on Monday, over two weeks after the former director was terminated.
Alec Kimmelman, the new director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health. (Courtesy of NYU Langone Health)

Longtime NYU Langone Health researcher Alec Kimmelman is taking over as director of the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, more than two weeks after the previous director was terminated following social media posts he made related to the Israel-Hamas war. 

The former director, Jewish cancer biologist Benjamin Neel, was fired after he made public reposts related to the war on the social media platform X, which some called “racist” and “anti-Arab” online. Last week, Neel sued NYU Langone, accusing it of unlawful termination and religious discrimination. 

Kimmelman, who has served as chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine since 2016, called his appointment “an incredible opportunity” in an NYU Langone press release. He is a renowned researcher on the biology of pancreatic cancer, having recently received a $1.7 million Drug Discovery Award from the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research for his work studying the metabolism of pancreatic cancers.

“My time leading the Department of Radiation Oncology has given me the chance to collaborate with excellent teams all across the institution, and I am confident that together we will continue to lead the charge in developing new treatments and providing our patients with the world-class care for which we are known,” Kimmelman said in the release. “The considerable talent we have already attracted to Perlmutter Cancer Center makes clear that this is one of the most exciting cancer programs anywhere.”

An NYU Langone spokesperson referred WSN to the medical center’s press release when asked for comment on Kimmelman’s hiring. In a previous statement, the medical center said Neel violated NYU Langone’s Code of Conduct and Social Media Policy, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity, and that it “stands by” its decision and will defend it in court. 

Last month, NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island physician Zaki Masoud was removed from his residency program after reposting content supporting Palestinian resistance on his private Instagram account. Soon after, a petition to reinstate him spread across social media, garnering over 90,000 signatures. In his lawsuit, Neel accused the medical center of offering him as a “sacrificial lamb” to justify Masoud’s removal. 

NYU Langone CEO Robert Grossman said Kimmelman’s expertise and research efforts will “effectively lead our cancer program into the future” in the press release. Grossman was also named in Neel’s lawsuit, which alleged that he said the university should revoke scholarships from students who protest against Israel in a private email conversation. 

“Perlmutter Cancer Center’s groundbreaking cancer research, state-of-the-art treatment and impactful prevention and education programs are exemplars of our institution’s exceptionalism,” Grossman said. “We are confident that the center will continue this upward trajectory under Dr. Kimmelman’s leadership.”

Contact Maisie Zipfel at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Maisie Zipfel
Maisie Zipfel, Deputy News Editor
Maisie Zipfel is a first-year double majoring in Journalism and Politics, and double minoring in Gender and Sexuality Studies and Spanish. She is a Yerba Mate enthusiast, a Taylor Swift fanatic and an anti-Greek Life turned sorority girl (Deeph or Die). When she’s not writing in the WSN basement you can find her isolated in Palladium for NYU’s Competitive Dance Team practice, obsessing over her Four-Year Plan or trying to weave in time to take a nap. You can reach her on instagram @maisiezipfel, on LinkedIn (her favorite social media platform) @MaeZipfel or preferably on Venmo @mkzipfel.

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  • R

    Ron zipfelNov 28, 2023 at 7:46 pm

    Well-written article! Miss Zipfel did a commendable job presenting this controversial topic impartially.