Yolanda Sanchez, PhD

Yolanda  Sanchez

Dr. Yolanda (Yoli) Sanchez is director and CEO of the University of New Mexico (UNM) Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is responsible for all cancer research and cancer clinical programs at UNM, covering all schools, colleges, departments, and facilities. Dr. Sanchez has authority over all basic, translational, clinical, and population-based research; all cancer clinical trials; and all ambulatory and inpatient cancer clinical services, which include the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMCCC) clinical building and 30 dedicated beds at UNM Hospital. 

Dr. Sanchez oversees all UNMCCC funding, including the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) (P30-CA118100); philanthropic funds directed through the UNM Foundation; and New Mexico state appropriations and revenue directed to the UNMCCC. She holds joint responsibility and authority with deans and department chairs for all UNM Cancer Center faculty recruitments. Dr. Sanchez also collaborates with the UNM Health System EVP/CEO to seek support for cancer programs and to provide input to state leaders, including the state legislature and governor, on cancer concerns in New Mexico.

Previously, Dr. Sanchez worked in cancer research, most recently as a professor of molecular and systems biology and associate director of basic sciences at Dartmouth Cancer Center. During her time at Dartmouth, Dr. Sanchez worked with the cancer center, Dartmouth Health, and the medical school’s leadership teams on two successful renewals of the NCI CCSG in 2014-15 and 2018-19. Before she was recruited to Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine in 2006, Dr. Sanchez joined the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine faculty in 1998, receiving tenure in 2004, and was named a PEW Scholar in 2001. 

Dr. Sanchez is an international expert in DNA damage response pathways. Her work focuses on exploring oncology targets and drug development for clinical trials. She serves on the steering committee of the Early Phase Trial Clinical Oncology Group (EPTCOG), which ensures that opportunities for translational research are explored and supported by pilot funding and that effective clinical collaborations for translational research are nurtured. Her UNM laboratory continues to study DNA damage response pathways. Recently, her laboratory has focused on targeting the “Achilles heel” of cancers driven by dysregulated Ras signaling using synthetic lethal chemical screens.

Throughout her career, Dr. Sanchez has prioritized collaboration across basic science, population science, and clinical research, and mentored trainees and junior faculty to help them develop successful research careers. In collaboration with Dartmouth’s leaders in cancer research training and education, she supported training and recruitment tools to encourage women and underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in oncology, led initiatives to enhance community outreach and engagement, diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in academic and health care settings. 

Dr. Sanchez has served on numerous National Institutes of Health (NIH) panels and has participated in the review of P01 and SPORE applications. She also serves on AACI’s Leadership Diversity and Development Initiative (LDDI) Steering Committee.