5 questions with…Case Comprehensive Cancer Center administrator Anne Duli

Anne DuliDay in and day out, researchers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center work to make major medical breakthroughs, such as this summer’s discoveries of a gene that permanently stops cancer cell proliferation and a new oncogene that leads to breast cancer. Anne Duli is not one of those researchers. But without her behind-the-scenes work, their findings might never come to light.

As the associate director for research administration and finance at the cancer center, Duli is responsible for creating and sustaining the infrastructure to support the research activities of investigators from Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth. This includes connecting researchers across institutions to encourage innovation, navigating and removing administrative obstacles for their partnerships to flourish, and collecting and maintaining information required by the National Cancer Institute to measure the center’s performance.

“Sometimes, I think Anne has 350 children, all doing important work in cancer research, and all having one request or another, often on a daily basis,” said Stan Gerson, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. “How she handles all of the members plus the consortium institutions and keeps us on time and on budget is a miracle. Without Anne, our efforts to discover the causes and the cures of cancer would be slowed to a standstill.”

Thankfully—for the researchers and their work’s beneficiaries—Duli is there to keep the cogs in motion. Though she joined the cancer center six years ago, Duli’s path to this exact position actually stretches back more than 25 years.

Just before she moved to Cleveland in 1986, Duli interviewed at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, but due to the timing of her impending move, she couldn’t pursue the position further. She later accepted a job with the university as academic programs administrator, and then led the School of Medicine’s research administration for more than 15 years before landing the job she’d eyed years before.

“When I did accept the position, I joked that it had taken me 20 years to get to the cancer center, but I had finally made it,” Duli said.

The path may have been long, but it’s certainly been worth it. “Collaborative research contributes to a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts,” she said, “so bringing members together to explore common interests and to nurture new ones is a major responsibility.”

Read more about Duli in this week’s five questions.

1. What are you reading—and how are you reading it (print vs. digital)?
I am reading a book titled Far to Go by Alison Pick, in print. I love the feel and look of books.

2. What can’t you live without?
Coffee—I look forward to that in the morning!

3. What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The upper level of the Health Sciences area, outside of the [Biomedical Research Building] cafeteria. I love this area in the spring and summer.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Never look back—it keeps you from moving forward.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
I have always loved this culture and environment, which I have found to be especially friendly and collegial. I have enjoyed working with the faculty of the medical school, and working in research administration has given me an appreciation for the time and effort behind the discoveries and developments.