Dr. Harris specializes in caring for people with gastrointestinal malignancies including hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancer.
I believe in designing a treatment plan based upon the specifics of each patient’s case. I aim to select the optimal treatment through a discussion of the different available strategies, with a goal of individualizing therapy by taking into account all available information regarding the biology of disease and patient's lifestyle preferences.
Gastrointestinal cancers including liver, bile duct, pancreas, colon, rectal, anal, gastric, esophageal, and neuroendocrine tumors.
- Associate Professor, Division of Oncology, University of Washington School of Medicine
- Associate Member, Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
- BS: Brown University, Providence, RI
- MD: Columbia University, New York, NY
- Residency: University of Washington, Seattle, WA
- Fellowship: UWMC and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA
- Other notable training: Post-sophomore Fellowship in Pathology, University of Minnesota Medical Center
- Dr. Harris was recognized in 2014, 2015 and 2016 as a "Top Doctor" in Seattle magazine's annual survey.
- S Yu, A. Estess, W. Harris, J. Dillon. JOMFS A Rare Occurrence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Metastasis to the Mandible: Report of a Case and Review of the Literature. May 2012 70(5) 1219-1223
- WP Harris, E. Mostaghel, P. Nelson, B. Montgomery. Nature Clinical Practice Urology: Androgen Deprivation Therapy: Progress in understanding mechanisms of resistance and optimizing androgen depletion. Feb 2009 Volume 6(2):76-85
- DE Chickering III, JS Jacob, TA Desai, M Harrison, WP Harris, CN Morrell, P Chaturvedi and E Mathiowitz. Journal of Controlled Release Bioadhesive Microspheres: III. An in vivo transit and bioavailability study of drug-loaded alginate and poly (fumaric co-sebacic anhydride) microspheres. Jan 1997 Volume: 48(1):35-46
- DE Chickering, WP Harris and E Mathiowitz. Biomedical Instrumentation and Technology A Micro-tensiometer for the Analysis of Bioadhesive Microspheres. Jan 1995 Volume 29(6):501-512
- Medical oncology consultant, University of Washington Primary Liver Tumor Multidisciplinary Clinic
- Medical oncology consultant, University of Washington Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Clinic
- Moderator, University of Washington Gastrointestinal Malignancy Tumor Board
- Primary investigator, Phase III trial ramicirumab in refractory hepatocellular carcinoma
- Primary investigator, Phase I/II trial of PEGPH20 and gemcitabine in metastatic pancreatic adenocarcinoma
- Primary investigator, Phase III trial of ADI-PEG in refractory hepatocellular carcinoma
- Co-primary investigator, Phase III trial of chemotherapy and radioembolization in second-line therapy of colorectal cancer with liver-localized residual disease
- Co-primary investigator, Phase III trial of sorafenib and radioembolization in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma
- Faculty, Department of Medicine, University of Washington Medical Center 2004-2007 and current
Dr. William Harris specializes in caring for patients with gastrointestinal (GI) malignancies, with a particular interest in treating primary liver cancers and bile duct cancers. “I get to know my patients well. It’s an important part of my guiding them through very big and complicated decisions.”
Harris is an assistant professor in the Division of Oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Along with providing clinical care, he designs and conducts clinical trials focused on new treatment therapies for the GI tract and pancreatic cancers.
Harris also is a medical oncology consultant for the UW Primary Liver Tumor Multidisciplinary Clinic and the UW Multidisciplinary Pancreatic Cancer Clinic, as well as moderator for the UW Gastrointestinal Malignancy Tumor Board.
“Oncology is a very unique specialty. I feel oncology physicians are positioned to practice a good balance of the art and science of medicine. It’s an exciting time to work in oncology. With the development of new and promising treatments, we have many more options for patients than in the past and we see more continuing to develop,” he says.
In addition to helping increase the availability of new drugs, Harris believes academic environments, such as SCCA, are uniquely positioned to offer patients access to clinical trials through which they can not only receive the most current advancements in care themselves, but “be part of the quest to discover new and effective therapies for patients in the future.”
To help his patients make good choices, Harris tries to educate them so they understand their unique case, and the available treatment options based on their personal perspective which includes how aggressively they want to approach the disease and the risks they are prepared to take to get the best results.
In his medical training, Harris pursued a background in general internal medicine before his subspecialty training. He was on the faculty of UW Department of Medicine for three years before entering his oncology training. “It was always my plan to work as an oncologist, but I wanted to have broader medical training first. This enhanced background helps me understand a patient’s entire medical history and to manage the full scope of the difficult problems they face.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, Harris graduated with a medical degree from Columbia University. At Columbia, he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, an honor bestowed to those finishing in the top 10 percent of his class. He completed his residency in internal medicine at University of Washington and a medical oncology fellowship at UW Medical Center and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Harris also completed a post-sophomore fellowship in pathology at the University of Minnesota Medical Center.
During medical school Harris spent three years doing laboratory research designed to understand why cancers grow and how to treat them more effectively. A focus of his lab research was on mechanisms of resistance of chemotherapy and understanding how cancer learns to evade typical treatment. This research demonstrated how complicated cancer is, Harris says. And how it can be targeted with new agents which is very helpful in terms of how to design and select promising clinical trials for patients.
A clinical trial for which Harris is currently primary investigator involves exploring a new type of drug used in cancer treatment which blocks growth pathways that allow cancers to proliferate. The trial participants are patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, a common liver cancer that begins in the cells or “hepatocytes.” The study participants have progressed on the current treatments available but their cancer has become resistant to treatment.
“Cancer therapy has come a long way,” says Harris, adding “With the cancers I treat, there is a lot of room for improvement when compared to other standard therapy for other cancers. Clinical trials offer patients access to new, promising agents as well as help improve medical science. The trials raise the bar for what will be next standard of care.”
When he’s not working, Harris enjoys spending time with wife, Christine Johnston, an infectious diseases specialist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the UW. Together they manage a “very active” household with their two sons. Harris is an avid soccer player, enjoys playing bridge, chess and reading.