About UofL Brown Cancer Center

Lobby of the hospital

For patients with cancer, receiving the best care is paramount. At UofL Brown Cancer Center, patients have been receiving quality health care services for more than 30 years.

Our mission is to generate new knowledge relating to the nature of cancer, and to create new and more effective approaches to prevention, diagnosis and therapy, while delivering medical advances with compassion and respect to cancer patients throughout our region.

For patients in Kentuckiana and beyond, UofL Brown Cancer Center offers innovative treatments to help patients fight the disease, while still living each moment to the fullest. Our cancer detection and prevention programs are helping individuals in our community learn more about their risk factors, the disease and the importance of early intervention.

As part of an academic medical center, in partnership with the UofL School of Medicine and UofL Physicians, UofL Brown Cancer Center offers our patients state-of-the-art facilities, groundbreaking research, pioneering treatments, as well as access to more than 700 specialty and primary care physicians. 


Jason Chesney, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Brown Cancer Center
Associate Vice President for Health Affairs, University of Louisville School of Medicine

Dr. Jason Chesney is a practicing medical oncologist, laboratory researcher and clinical trialist who serves as the Director of the Brown Cancer Center. Dr. Chesney leads the center’s comprehensive multidisciplinary cancer clinics, cancer trials and outreach programs and basic and translational research efforts. Dr. Chesney’s laboratory research in immunology and metabolism has resulted in the development of three phase 1 clinical trials of new cancer drugs and he is a co-inventor on nine U.S. patents related to new technologies to treat cancer.  

Under Dr. Chesney’s leadership, the Brown Cancer Center’s Cancer Trials Program has developed a national reputation for the testing of novel immunotherapies. Specifically, Dr. Chesney’s work to develop and test novel immunotherapies has resulted in the FDA approval of three new immunotherapies for the treatment of melanoma including a genetically engineered herpes virus and several humanized antibodies that activate the immune system. Based on the efficacy of these agents in melanoma patients, multiple new clinical trials have been launched to test these same immunotherapies in more common cancer types including lung, head and neck and colon cancers.

Dr. Chesney is a standing member of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s tumor cell biology study section, a regular reviewer for NCI clinical SPORE grants and an on-site reviewer for NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers.   He has received multiple awards including the Kentucky Derby’s Julep Ball Scientist of the Year and been named a U.S. News World and Report Top Doctor in Solid Tumors and Clinical Trials. 
Karen Carter, RN, MBA
Interim Executive Director, Brown Cancer Center
Associate Director, Cancer Trials Program

Karen Carter is the Associate Director of the Cancer Trials Program, and Interim Executive Director at the Brown Cancer Center.  

Karen has over 20 years' experience in a corporate legal department at a local manufacturing company headquarters, with experience in staff management, project and change management, and quality initiatives. Karen transitioned from the corporate environment into healthcare in 2006, working as an RN at Baptist East Hospital and at the Brown Cancer Center as a registered nurse in Medical Oncology. She became a Study RN and Manager of Operations, moving to the position of Associate Director in 2015. In August, 2016 she was appointed as Interim Executive Director of the Cancer Center.  

In the BCC Cancer Trials Program, Karen has managed staff who conduct complex oncology cancer trials.  As Interim Executive Director, she works closely with physician and department leadership to promote optimal operations and change management.  Her educational background includes an MBA from UofL with a concentration in health sector management. Building on her corporate and educational background, Karen works to embed within the clinical research program and in the departmental operations an operational framework including continuous improvement, process analysis and change, and the ethical and respectful conduct of services offered to the UofL Brown Cancer Center patients. 
Elizabeth C. Riley, M.D., FACP
Deputy Director of Clinical Affairs
Rebecca Redman, M.D.
Deputy Director of Clinical Research
John O. Trent, Ph.D.
Deputy Director of Research
Robert Barbier
Senior Associate Director, Finance

More than 10,000 people a year die from cancer in Kentucky, where the disease has the highest mortality rate in the nation. Experts say the biggest issue is lung cancer, which strikes Kentuckians at a rate 50 percent higher than the national average. But death rates for breast, colorectal and cervical cancers in Kentucky also rank in the top 10 nationally.

To help relieve the suffering of the state’s residents caused by cancer, the Brown Cancer Center was opened in 1981 with a $12 million gift from the James Graham Brown Foundation and the citizens of Louisville.

In 1999, John Shumaker, then president of the university, made a commitment to creating a center that would improve cancer care in the region and become one of the nation’s preeminent cancer centers. The belief was - and continues to be - that the citizens of Kentucky deserve world-class cancer treatment, and no resident should feel compelled to leave Kentucky to seek the best level of care.

Clinical care and education

Since 1999, the University of Louisville Brown Cancer Center has enjoyed a period of remarkable growth in its clinical and research programs, with strong, multidisciplinary programs providing a team-focused approach to cancer care. These programs have been extended into several communities throughout the state in an emphasis on providing outreach to underserved populations.

The state-funded Kentucky Cancer Program has become a national leader in providing cancer education. This premier state-funded cancer prevention education program is based at the UofL Brown Cancer Center and the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center. Through a network of 12 regional offices, the KCP’s services and programs are available in all parts of Kentucky.  Each office is run by a Cancer Control Specialist, who is a catalyst for change in his or her region.


Since 1999, the Brown Cancer Center has pursued a strategic plan for the development of strong translational research, focused particularly on drug discovery and development.

The plan and recruitment of new faculty places emphasis on investigational areas that will lead to new approaches to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This emphasis is paying off, as scientists with the Brown Cancer Center have several novel treatments in early phase clinical trials with more than a dozen others in preclinical stages. 

Support for the center

The growth of the UofL Brown Cancer Center has been made possible with strong University of Louisville and philanthropic support. The development of the Kentucky Research Challenge Trust Fund, known as “Bucks for Brains,” has played an important role in providing funds for the recruitment of talented investigators, creating 22 new endowed chairs.

Support from the James Graham Brown Foundation, the Humana Foundation and Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Fund also has provided resources critical to the Brown Cancer Center’s growth. This has resulted in nationally recognized research programs that have direct implications for cancer patients in Kentucky.

Research grants have grown from around $1 million in 1999 to more than $50 million in 2011. Because of the specific needs of the state and region, the center has targeted tobacco-related cancers as a major focus and is exploring several promising approaches.

Today, the UofL Brown Cancer Center continues to be a leader in the treatment of cancer and ranked as one of the best hospitals in 2014-15 for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report. The annual U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, now in their 25th year, recognize hospitals that excel in treating the most challenging patients. 

The UofL Brown Cancer Center is the only center in Louisville recognized for cancer care.