Karen Knudsen

Chief Executive Officer of American Cancer Society

Karen is Chief Executive Officer of American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Prior to joining ACS, Karen served as Executive Vice President of Oncology Services, Jefferson Health and Enterprise Director of its Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of 71 NCI-designated cancer centers in the United States. Previously she was the Hilary Koprowski Endowed Professor of Oncology at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She also held secondary appointments in the Departments of Urology, Medical Oncology, and Radiation Oncology.

Karen holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the George Washington University, and a PhD in molecular biology from the University of California at San Diego. She gained an MBA with honors from the Fox School of Business and Management at Temple University. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship training at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego.

In 2007 Karen joined the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health, and founded the cancer center’s prostate cancer program. After serving as the Deputy Director of SKCC, and the Vice Provost of Thomas Jefferson University, she accepted the offer to serve as the Enterprise Director of the SKCC in 2015, leading the cancer care and cancer discovery mission for Jefferson Health. 

Karen serves on the board of advisors for the National Cancer Institute and on 12 external advisory boards for NCI-designated cancer centers. She is an active member of several committees with the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in addition to serving on other academic and for-profit advisory boards. She previously served as president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), representing the 102 leading cancer centers in North America, and on the board of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).