Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, is the chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). As a well-respected cancer leader, researcher, and advocate, Dr. Knudsen guides the organization on our mission to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. She has a strong commitment to ensuring that all people can benefit from the impact of our work.
Prior to joining ACS, Dr. Knudsen served as executive vice president of Oncology Services and enterprise director for Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health, one of only 71 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers recognized for their research and impact on cancer outcomes. While at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health, Dr. Knudsen experienced firsthand how ACS improves the lives of cancer patients and their families through discovery, advocacy, and patient support.
As a National Cancer Institute-funded researcher, Dr. Knudsen understands the critical role government plays in saving lives from cancer. She also served as president for the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), which is an important voice in advocating for funding for cancer research and access to care, including patient access to research innovations. AACI is a member of the One Voice Against Cancer Coalition, which was founded by ACS CAN in 2000 to bring public health organizations together to advocate for greater federal investments in cancer research.
Dr. Knudsen currently holds leadership roles with some of the most important cancer entities in the nation. She serves on the board of advisors for the National Cancer Institute and on 12 external advisory boards for NCI-designated cancer centers. She is an active member of several committees with the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in addition to serving on other academic and for-profit advisory boards. She previously served as president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), representing the 102 leading cancer centers in North America, and on the board of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).
Dr. Knudsen holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the George Washington University; a PhD in biological sciences from the University of California San Diego; and an MBA from Temple University Fox School of Business.
She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Brian Costello, and their two children, Dylan, 22, and Liam, 17.
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