Sarah Thayer, MD, PhD, FACS

Sarah  Thayer Dr. Sarah Thayer is the director of the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center (FWCC) at Ochsner-LSU Health in Shreveport, Louisiana where she holds the Carol Feist Endowed Chair for the Study of Cancer. Dr. Thayer serves as the chief scientific and chief medical officer of cancer services at Feist-Weiller and its satellites. Her principal duties are to oversee programmatic build-out of the cancer research portfolio in addition to strategic management and programmatic build-out of the clinical enterprise. Her mission as a leader has been to transform patient care delivery in a way that improves quality and safety while integrating and accelerating research discovery.

Dr. Thayer is involved in several organizations that work on health care and policies for women and the underserved. She was appointed by the governor of Louisiana to the Louisiana Cancer and Lung Trust Fund Board. She also participates in the board of directors for the Louisiana American Cancer Society and the Scientific Advisory Committee for Focus Fund-MDACC, and she works on statewide initiatives to improve access to the underserved such as ACS Louisiana Policy Forums on Health Equity. In addition, she serves on the clinical committee for TACKL (Taking Aim at Cancer in Louisiana).

Dr. Thayer is a surgeon-scientist. She is an active surgeon and an investigator with clinical care and research focused on breast and pancreatic cancers. Her research focuses on pathways important to the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer. Her early work included a focus on a developmental gene, “Sonic Hedgehog,” where she participated in taking this pathway from bench to bedside. Presently, her laboratory is investigating the importance of an epithelial stem cell compartment and its role in regeneration and cancer which her lab identified in 2008 and termed the “pancreatic duct gland.” Dr. Thayer has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications, mentored 45 MDs, MD/PhDs, and PhDs, and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health for 19 years.

Dr. Thayer completed her training at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. After her training, she remained on staff for 13 years where she served as the Gerald Austen Scholar in Academic Surgery and director of the Pancreatic Biology Laboratory. It was during this time that she attended Harvard Business School to study the business and delivery side of health care. This additional education allowed her to develop improved models of integrative cancer care. In 2014, she joined UNMC/NM as the physician-in-chief of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center (FPBCC), and served as the associate director for clinical affairs, the chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology, and the Merle M. Musselman Centennial Professor of Surgery. These leadership opportunities allowed her to realize her goal of developing a patient centered multidisciplinary approach to improved cancer care. The success of these innovative cancer programs resulted in FPBCC becoming the first in market in the state and first in financial contribution to the health care network.

Now at FWCC, Dr. Thayer is dedicated to addressing the unique needs of Louisianians through early detection, empowered patient decision making, and a more unified team approach to patient care and research. One of her many contributions has been to restructure patient care and research through enhanced streamlined services whereby physicians, researchers, and staff work together in a multidisciplinary fashion to mitigate the burden of cancer treatment and provide the best care possible.
These leadership roles have given her a solid foundation in strategies and tactics, which include policy reform and innovative financial modeling, to create and finance integrated comprehensive care and research for a diverse patient population.