Dr. Joel Tepper was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in southeastern Massachusetts. He received his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from MIT, and his MD degree from Washington University, St. Louis. Dr. Tepper  interned at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago and spent time as a resident in radiation oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). After serving in the US Air Force he became a Senior Investigator at the National Cancer Institute and then an attending physician at MGH and Harvard Medical School. For the past 37 years he has been at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill as the Hector MacLean Distinguished Professor of Cancer Research. He was department Chair for the first 20 of those years and now works part-time at UNC- Chapel Hill.
He has been an active participant in clinical and translational research in gastrointestinal tumors including Vice-Chair of the GI Committee of CALGB for 14 years. He has worked on the NCI Cancer Disparities Research Partnership program which demonstrated the success of mentoring in building cancer research programs for underserved populations. He was the Co-Chair of the NCI GI Steering Committee that coordinates the NCI Phase II and III clinical trials cooperative group
portfolio and has been Director of the NCI sponsored UNC GI SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant. He has been Co-Chair of the Colon-Rectal Working group of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and has worked on the pancreas task force of TCGA. He was co-Director of the NCI funded UNC Carolina Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNE).
Dr. Tepper has served as President and Chairman of the Board of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and received the Gold Medal from ASTRO in 2008. He has been a board member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and has been on a number of committees for the AACR. He has served as Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. He was a founding member of the Clinical and Translational Research Advisory Committee (CTAC) that advises the Director of the NCI on the NCI clinical and translational research portfolio and has worked for NCI on PATS (Process to Accelerate Translational Science) and the OEWG (Operational Efficiency Working Group). He is a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Tepper has edited three textbooks including Clinical Radiation Oncology and Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology and is the founding Editor of Seminars in Radiation Oncology. He has also authored a large number of peer reviewed publications.