In February, Stephen Hahn, M.D., was named MD Anderson’s deputy president and chief operating officer. In this role, he’s responsible for day-to-day management of the institution, ensuring excellence across all business, clinical and faculty matters. Hahn joined MD Anderson in 2015 as division head, department chair and professor of Radiation Oncology. Prior to that, he served as chair of the Radiation Oncology department the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine from 2005 to 2014.
As a radiation oncologist, Hahn specializes in treating both lung cancer and sarcoma. His research focuses on the molecular causes of the tumor microenvironment, particularly the study of chemical signals that go awry (known as aberrant signal transduction pathways), and the evaluation of proton therapy as a means to improve the efficiency of radiation therapy.
We recently sat down with Hahn to learn a little more about him. Here’s what he had to say.
What word best describes you?
What brought you to MD Anderson?
I got the opportunity to lead the Radiation Oncology division at the world’s No. 1 cancer center, where there was a great culture and environment for patient care.
What made you go into oncology?
I’ve always had an interest in cancer.
What prepared you for your role?
I served as chair for nine years at the University of Pennsylvania and was on the practice plan and finance committees.
What was your first job?
I served ice cream at Friendly’s (a chain of ice cream shops based in the Northeast).
What do you most enjoy away from work?
Working out and spending time with my wife, Lota, and my four children, Chris, Rob, Emma and Caroline. We like to travel together.
What’s something you’ve learned from patients?
Appreciate every day with family and friends.
If you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what would you do?
If I were a doctor, I’d practice full-time patient care. If I weren’t a doctor, I’d run a vineyard and winery.
How do you manage stress?
What makes you happiest?
My family and my rescue dog, Baci (which means kisses in Italian). We recently adopted her; she’s part Labrador and part Doberman.
When are you most creative?
In the morning. I like to wake up around 4 a.m. to read and work out. I like to have a clear mind before getting caught up in the day.
Best or worst advice ever received?
Best: It’s not about me. Don’t take it personally. Don’t take it home. Worst: Never get married. I’ve been married for 33 years, and if I’d listened to that advice, I’d have missed spending my life with my best friend.
What’s one thing you’d like employees – or patients – to know about you?
I always try to put our patients and MD Anderson first.
What’s one thing you’d like employees – or patients – to know about MD Anderson?
There’s no better place in the world to receive and deliver cancer care.
A longer version of this story originally appeared in Messenger, MD Anderson’s quarterly publication for employees, volunteers, retirees and their families.