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Dr. Anna D. Barker is the Chief Strategy Officer at the Ellison Institute, where she is building networks of leading experts in medicine, science and engineering, that will help the Institute advance scientific discoveries and innovations that solve complex problems in cancer and other diseases. She is also Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Complex Adaptive Systems, at the Arizona State University.

Previously, Dr. Barker served as the principal deputy director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and deputy director for strategic scientific initiatives. In these roles she led the development of foundational platforms and national programs to support the emerging concept of precision medicine. During her tenure at the NCI, she collaboratively planned and implemented a number of strategic convergence programs that emphasized innovation, networks of global institutions, team science and publicly available data.

Initiatives and programs under Dr. Barker’s leadership include: The Cancer Genome Atlas co-developed with the National Human Genome Research Institute the Biospecimens Research Network; the NCI Clinical Proteomics Technology in Cancer Initiative; the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer Program; and the Physical Sciences-Oncology Centers Program (which connects physicists, mathematicians, engineers and cancer scientists dedicated to developing a fundamental understanding of cancer), among several others. Additionally, Dr. Barker collaborated with the leadership of the FDA and was founding co-chair of the NCI-FDA Interagency Oncology Task Force, the Cancer Steering Committee of the Foundation for the NIH Biomarker Consortium and she led the NCI’s international programs.

Most recently, Dr. Barker served as Director of Transformative Healthcare Networks, co-director of Complex Adaptive Systems -Biomedicine (CAS) and professor of practice, School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU). In these roles, she designed and implemented “knowledge network” models that address complex diseases such as cancer as complex adaptive systems. These systems approaches have been employed to create innovative solutions in areas such as biomarker discovery and development, new clinical trial designs, and the roles of big data and artificial intelligence in precision medicine. As a result of her efforts, she led the development of the biomarker and clinical trials sections of the 21 Century Cures Act. Barker will maintain a courtesy appointment as a distinguished visiting fellow at ASU in Complex Adaptive Systems.

Dr. Barker also spent several years at Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit transdisciplinary research and development organization where she started as a research scientist and subsequently progressed to several senior executive roles. Over the course of her career, she has received a number of awards for her contributions to cancer research, and for her work with cancer patients, professional and advocacy organizations and the ongoing national effort to prevent and cure cancer. Dr. Barker received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Ohio State University where she studied chemistry, immunology and microbiology.

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