Shernan Holtan

Shernan Holtan Named the Masonic Cancer Center CTO-CGI Medical Director

Shernan Holtan, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology, Oncology and Transplantation and a Hematologist/Oncologist with University of Minnesota Health, was appointed as the Medical Director of the Masonic Cancer Center Clinical Trials Office-Cellular, Gene and Immunotherapy (CTO-CGI) earlier this year.

“I am extremely happy to work with Dr. Holtan as our new CTO-CGI Medical Director,” said John Wagner, MD, Director of the Institute of Cell, Gene and Immunotherapy and Co-Associate Director for Clinical Research at the Masonic Cancer Center. “These new cell-based treatments and immunotherapies are increasingly complex, often with complicated manufacturing schemes, and require new modes of delivery and patient care monitoring requirements. To be leaders in this area, we need specialized teams managing the entire process from trial inception through conduct and reporting of results.”

Dr. Holtan is board certified in hematology and oncology. Her clinical practice is focused on bone marrow transplantation for malignant and non-malignant diseases, graft-versus-host disease, melanoma, and long-term survivorship.  

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the University of Minnesota in helping to bring transformative research to patients in need,” said Dr. Holtan. “Our program has a long history of bold innovation in cellular and immune therapies for fatal diseases of the blood and marrow. I am excited to help our program extend these therapies to more patients with a wide variety of diseases and potentially transform care around the world through our efforts.”

Dr. Holtan has a robust independent research portfolio including personalized immune monitoring, the role of wound healing-associated growth factors in graft-versus-host disease, and strength training to reduce accelerated aging in cancer survivors. She is the principal investigator of several active clinical trials, including serving as the co-principal investigator on a national, randomized phase III study of graft-versus-host disease prevention conducted through the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network. She co-founded the Transplant Late Effects Clinic (TLC) at the University of Minnesota Medical Center for patients who received a bone marrow transplant 2+ years ago. The TLC Clinic offers a multidisciplinary assessment including nutrition, exercise, emotional health, and skin cancer screening to develop a personalized care plan focusing on post-transplant wellness. TLC Patients are also offered the chance to participate in research, including the current study focused on understanding changes in intestinal microbiota, inflammation, and accelerating aging in long-term survivors compared to healthy controls.

Dr. Holtan is an active member of a number of national and regional organizations, including the American Society of Hematology (ASH), the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT), and the Midwest Melanoma Partnership.

After completing her undergraduate studies at Hastings College in Nebraska, Dr. Holtan received her MD from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Her residency in internal medicine and fellowship training in hematology, oncology, and blood and marrow transplant were completed at Mayo Clinic. You can follow her real-time research updates on Twitter (@sghmd).

About the Masonic Cancer Center

The Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, is the Twin Cities’ only Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated ‘Outstanding’ by the National Cancer Institute. As Minnesota’s Cancer Center, we have served the entire state for more than 25 years. Our researchers, educators, and care providers have worked to discover the causes, prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer and cancer-related diseases. Learn more at