Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., FACS

Bank of America endowed medical director, Helen F. Graham Cancer Center and Research Institute

Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., a nationally recognized expert on colorectal cancer, joined ChristianaCare as the Bank of America endowed medical director of the Graham Cancer Center in August 2001. As medical director, Dr. Petrelli oversees the state’s largest and most technologically advanced cancer program, including cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment. Under his leadership the Graham Cancer Center was selected as a National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) and one of the original 16 NCI Community Cancer Centers Programs (NCCCP). Among his leadership initiatives, he established:

  • Multidisciplinary disease centers, where patients can see a surgeon, a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist, all in one visit, concerning treatment for specific types of cancer; and have on-site access to a wide range of support services.
  • A Tissue Procurement Center leading to participating in the NIH Cancer Genome Atlas Project as a bio specimen collection center.
  • A High Risk Family Cancer Registry consisting of more than 6,000 families and 260,000 individuals and a Genetic Counseling program with five full-time genetic counselors.
  • A Center for Translational Cancer Research in partnership with the University of Delaware that brings scientific discoveries from the bench to the bedside of patients, investigating breast cancer, colorectal cancer, radiation oncology, new drug development for leukemia and tissue engineering.
  • An historic partnership with The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, an international leader in biomedical research, to collaborate on translational cancer research initially focusing on lung, melanoma and ovarian cancers.
  • A Gene Editing Institute that conducts industry-leading genetic engineering research.
Dr. Petrelli came to ChristianaCare from one of the nation’s leading NCI Designated  Cancer Centers, Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, where he led several clinical trials for a promising form of chemotherapy. He has conducted substantial research into the genetics of colorectal cancer and co-authored several papers on the subject, which are among more than 300 manuscripts that he has contributed to peer-reviewed journals.

Dr. Petrelli is an associate editor of the Annals of Surgical Oncology, editor of the Surgical Oncology Clinics of North America and co-editor of the journal Surgical Oncology. He is a past  member of the NCI Gastrointestinal Steering Committee, and past chair of the Colorectal Committee of the NSABP. He was President of the Society of Surgical Oncology for 2007-2008. In 2013, he received the Order of the First State Award from Governor Markell for his “dedication to excellence for serving the community.”

He received the 2014 Clinical Research Award from the Association of Community Cancer Centers in recognition of his ground-breaking leadership initiatives promoting and advocating for oncology clinical research. Dr. Petrelli received the 2015 Service Award from Delaware Bio Science Association for his significant contributions to improve Delaware’s life-science community.

He received the American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Fellowship Award in 1979 and 1980. He was recognized as the Outstanding Educator of the Year at Roswell Park in 1997, and was also a four-time winner of the Institute’s Golden Apple Award for Best Teacher in the surgical oncology division.
He is currently a Professor of Surgery at Thomas Jefferson University and was previously a Professor of Surgery at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has been listed among the best doctors in the nation by Good Housekeeping and American Health magazines and in 2009 was listed as one of the top 100 cancer physicians in the U.S.

Dr. Petrelli graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1969 and earned his medical degree at Tulane University Medical School, New Orleans, in 1973. He was a Fellow in Surgical Oncology at Roswell Park in 1978. He joined the staff at Roswell Park in 1982 after completing an International Union Against Cancer Fellowship in Milan, Italy, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

Specialties:Surgical Oncology

Helen F. Graham Center, Suite 1213
4701 Ogletown-Stanton Road
Newark, DE 19713

Education:Tulane University Medical School
Residency:St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center
Fellowship:Roswell Park Cancer Institute
National Cancer Institute