Nancy E. Davidson, MD

President and Executive Director
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Head, Division of Medical Oncology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Senior Vice President, Director and Professor, Clinical Research Division
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Medical Oncology
“My hope and goal in life is that no one has to suffer from a catastrophic illness.”
— Dr. Davidson
Why did you become a physician-researcher?

Science runs through my veins. I’m the daughter of two geologists. As a young girl, I spent several summers camping with my father while he did his fieldwork. Years later during medical school, I got a summer job at the National Cancer Institute, and what I saw there set fire to my imagination. Researchers had grown new cell models of breast cancer in a petri dish with the goal of developing potential new treatments that they could then bring to patients. For the first time, I witnessed a bridge between what happens in the lab and the clinic, and I wanted to walk that bridge myself. I set out to be a physician-researcher so my work could have a direct, positive impact on people’s lives. That passion has never waned.

What do you want patients to know about working with you?

My office is a safe space where you can share your fears and concerns and ask as many questions as you need to gain peace of mind. I will explain your condition and the treatment options in a way that you can understand, so you can use the information to help you choose the path that’s right for you. Throughout my career, I’ve held a number of leadership roles and made several discoveries in the lab, yet one of the things I’m most proud of is the quality care I’ve given to patients with breast cancer.

Provider background

Specialty: Medical Oncology

Area of clinical practice

Breast cancers

Breast cancer

My life’s work has centered on advancing research, treatment and outcomes for patients with cancer. Early in my career, I served as the Breast Cancer Research Professor of Oncology and founding director of the Breast Cancer Program at Johns Hopkins University. In the lab, my research has focused on the role of epigenetics in breast cancer — how the expression of certain genes affects a person’s risk for developing the disease. I have been a lead investigator and co-investigator on several practice-changing breast cancer trials, including establishing a specific regimen of chemotherapy and hormone therapy for premenopausal women with the disease. Outside of patient care and research, I’ve also been active in leadership. Since 2016, I have served as SCCA’s president and executive director. In this role, I coordinate cancer care, clinical research and education across SCCA and its consortium partners: the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Seattle Children’s. A member of the National Academy of Medicine, I am also past president of both the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research.

Chemotherapy Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It may be given alone or with other treatments. Treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Chemotherapy may be given by mouth, injection, infusion or on the skin, depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. It may be given alone or with other treatments, such as surgery, radiation therapy or biologic therapy. Gene The functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. Hormone therapy Hormones can cause some cancers to grow. To slow or stop growth, synthetic hormones or other drugs can be used to block the body’s natural hormones, or surgery is used to remove a hormone-producing gland. Treatment that adds, blocks or removes hormones. For certain conditions (such as diabetes or menopause), hormones are given to adjust low hormone levels. Hormones can also cause certain cancers (such as prostate and breast cancer) to grow. To slow or stop the growth of cancer, synthetic hormones or other drugs can be used to block the body’s natural hormones, or surgery is used to remove the gland that makes a certain hormone. Also called endocrine therapy, hormonal therapy and hormone treatment.

Diseases treated

Education, experience and certifications
Undergraduate Degree
Wellesley College
Medical Degree
Harvard Medical School
Johns Hopkins University
National Cancer Institute
Board Certification
Medical Oncology, 1985; Internal Medicine, 1982, American Board of Internal Medicine
The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Allen S. Lichter Visionary Leader Award

Dr. Davidson was the 2018 recipient of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Allen S. Lichter Visionary Leader Award. This award recognizes a recipient who has drastically changed the oncology field or who has made significant contributions to advance the mission of ASCO, CancerLinQ LLC, or Conquer Cancer through the honoree’s ability to lead and inspire.

Elected to the 239th class of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Davidson was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in spring of 2019. One of the nation’s oldest learned societies, the Academy was founded in 1780 to honor accomplished individuals and “to engage them in advancing the public good.”

National Cancer Institute’s Rosalind E. Franklin Award

In 2010, the National Cancer Institute presented Dr. Davidson with the Rosalind E. Franklin Award. This prize honors the commitment of women in cancer research.


The future of cancer care: strategies from 20 years of research and patient care
The future of cancer care: strategies from 20 years of research and patient care

Over the past two decades, SCCA has grown into one of the nation’s leading centers for cancer research and clinical care. It is a critical resource for providers whose patients need access to studies and specialized therapies. The future of cancer care will build on this solid foundation and define new levels of treatment success.

Cancer and COVID-19: Reflections at 1 Year

SCCA's Nancy Davidson, MD, wrote an article for The ASCO Post reflecting on the cancer center's experience over the last year of the pandemic.


Clinical trials

We make promising new treatments available to you through studies called clinical trials led by SCCA doctors. Many of these trials at SCCA have led to FDA-approved treatments and have improved standards of care globally. Together, you and your doctor can decide if a study is right for you.


Many of our SCCA physicians conduct ongoing research to improve standards of patient care. Their work is evaluated by other physicians and selected for publication to the United States National Library of Medicine, the largest medical library in the world. See scientific papers this SCCA provider has written.


SCCA providers are often asked to give their medical expertise for press and news publications. Read articles by or about this SCCA provider.

Your care team

At SCCA, you receive care from a team of providers with extensive experience in your disease. Your team includes doctors, a team coordinator, a registered nurse, an advanced practice provider and others, based on your needs. You also have access to experts like nutritionists, social workers, acupuncturists, psychiatrists and more who specialize in supporting people with cancer or blood disorders.
Registered nurse (RN)
Registered nurse (RN)
Your nurse manages your care alongside your physician and assists with care procedures and treatments.
Patient care coordinator
Patient care coordinator
Your patient care coordinator works closely with you and your physician and serves as your scheduler.


SCCA accepts most national private health insurance plans as well as Medicare. We also accept Medicaid for people from Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. We are working to ensure that everyone, no matter what their financial situation, has access to the care they need.

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