Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, FACP, Named New CEO of NCCN

October 2023, Vol 14, No 5

Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, FACP, has been named the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). She will succeed Robert W. Carlson, MD, who is retiring after more than 10 years leading the global guidelines organization. Dr Denlinger will assume her new role with NCCN on October 9, 2023.

Dr Denlinger has served as NCCN’s Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer since January 2021. She previously served as Chair of the NCCN Guidelines® Panel for Survivorship (a role previously held by Dr Carlson), and served on the Bone, Esophageal/Gastric, and Occult Primary Cancers Panel; the Panel for Older Adult Oncology; the Editorial Board for JNCCN—Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network; and numerous abstract and scientific review committees. Dr Denlinger also took part in the development of the NCCN Harmonized Guidelines™ for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Before joining NCCN full time, Dr Denlinger served as Chief, Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology; Deputy Director, the Early Drug Development Phase 1 Program; Director, Survivorship Program; and Associate Professor, the Department of Hematology/Oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA, where she continues to serve as Adjunct Faculty.

Since joining NCCN full time, she has provided organizational guidance, spearheaded pilot programs for the Health Equity Report Card, facilitated oncology research grants through the NCCN Oncology Research Program, and championed NCCN’s outreach initiatives to improve cancer care and policy worldwide. Dr Denlinger has also overseen the NCCN Drugs & Biologics Compendium (NCCN Compendium®), the NCCN Biomarkers Compendium®, and the library of NCCN Chemotherapy Order Templates (NCCN Templates®).

Dr Denlinger was named an NCCN Young Investigator Awardee in 2012 and received the NCCN Rodger Winn Award in 2018 for exemplifying leadership, drive, and commitment in service to developing NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®).

She has authored hundreds of clinical research articles and abstracts and received awards from many organizations, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology Foundation and the American College of Physicians.

As CEO, Dr Denlinger will maintain the library of NCCN Guidelines®; lead programs advancing global collaborations, new oncology research, peer-reviewed publications, patient information, and cancer policy; and oversee a staff of more than 150 employees at the NCCN global headquarters, located just outside Philadelphia.

“I have wanted to be a doctor since first grade, and an oncologist since high school. I’ve experienced first-hand what it means to be there for a loved one while they face cancer, both early stage and advanced disease,” said Dr Denlinger in a press release.1 “In my years of seeing patients, managing clinical trials, and helping to update international, evidence-based standards for care, I have seen tremendous progress in cancer therapy and outcomes. I am eager to continue serving wherever I can do the most good for the greatest number of people—which is why I am so honored and excited to accept the role of CEO with NCCN. I am grateful to Dr Carlson—as well as the NCCN Board of Directors and all of my colleagues—for this opportunity.”

Dr Carlson announced his plans to retire in January 2023. During his tenure, the number of NCCN guidelines increased from 58 to 84. The guidelines were downloaded 13.3 million times in 2022. The number of NCCN member institutions also grew—from 21 to 33.

“I am thrilled to welcome Dr Denlinger as NCCN’s new CEO and look forward to seeing NCCN continue to build on our numerous and long-standing successes helping all [patients] with cancer to live better lives. It has been an extreme honor to work with so many dedicated colleagues, patients, and advocates to profoundly improve access to high-quality cancer care over the years,” Dr Carlson said in the press release.1

“Dr Denlinger is the perfect person to build on Dr Carlson’s impressive and enduring work leading this premier oncology organization,” said John W. Sweetenham, MD, FRCP, FACP, FASCO, Professor of Medicine and Associate Director for Cancer Network Clinical Affairs at the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern, and Chair of the NCCN Board of Directors, in the press release.1

“She has shown a career long commitment to improving outcomes and experiences for all people with cancer. Dr Denlinger is beloved throughout NCCN and the larger oncology community. Her tireless efforts and excellence treating patients, advancing new research, forging partnerships, and advocating on Capitol Hill will help NCCN continue to define and advance high-quality, high-value, patient-centered cancer care globally for years to come.”

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, equitable, and accessible cancer care so all patients can live better lives. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) provide transparent, evidence-based, expert consensus recommendations for cancer treatment, prevention, and supportive services; they are the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer management and the most thorough and frequently updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients® provide expert cancer treatment information to inform and empower patients and caregivers, through support from the NCCN Foundation®. NCCN also advances continuing education, global initiatives, policy, and research collaboration and publication in oncology. Visit for more information.


  1. News details: Crystal S. Denlinger, MD, FACP, named new CEO of National Comprehensive Cancer Network; Robert W. Carlson, MD, retiring after 10+ years leading global oncology nonprofit. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. August 23, 2023. Accessed August 30, 2023.

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