Rochester, Minnesota


Mcwilliams.Robert@mayo.edu Clinical Profile


I have a research interest in the epidemiology and genetics of cancer. We are currently studying ways to use genetic knowledge to improve risk assessment and therapy for cancer, incorporating genetics into clinical trials.

My main research focus is on the genetic epidemiology of pancreatic cancer. I am currently working to identify genetic mutations and polymorphisms that may impact risk for pancreatic cancer at an early age, a project funded by a K07 award from the National Cancer Institute. This project constitutes studying variations in DNA repair pathway genes, genes that predispose to pancreatitis, and family cancer syndrome genes in a large database developed at Mayo through the Pancreatic Cancer SPORE. By learning who may at risk for pancreatic cancer, especially at a younger age, we hope to develop targeted screening and prevention strategies to decrease mortality from this aggressive disease.

I am principal investigator for a multicenter clinical trial for metatstaic pancreatic cancer using gemcitabine and a novel agent (17-AAG). In this study, we are also incorporating several translational studies to understand more about how these treatments affect patients and their cancer. Among these are pharmacogenetics of gemcitabine metabolzing genes and collecting and analyzing circulating tumor cells from patients.

Other clinical trials include:

  1. A multicenter study on small bowel adenocarcinoma, using the UGT1A1 polymorphism to determine the appropriate dose of chemotherapy.
  2. A phase I study to determine the optimal dose of FOLFIRI (5-FU, irinotecan, leucovorin) for each UGT1A1 genotype.

My clinical focus is on care for patients with gastrointestinal malignancies and malignant melanoma.


See my publications


Primary Appointment

  1. Oncology

Academic Rank

  1. Associate Professor of Oncology


  1. MSc - Biomedical Science Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
  2. Research Fellowship - Genetic Epidemiology of Cancer Mayo Cancer Genetic Epidemiology Training Program, Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
  3. Fellow - Hematology/Oncology Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
  4. Resident - Internal Medicine/Medical House Officer Osler Housestaff, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  5. MD Georgetown University School of Medicine
  6. BA - Echols Scholar Interdisciplinary Studies College of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia

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