Daniel A. Osman, MD, a South Florida surgeon who founded the Miami Breast Cancer Conference® and helped shepherd its growth into a premier medical meeting, died peacefully in Weston, Florida, on July 15 at the age of 98.
Daniel A. Osman, MD, a South Florida surgeon who founded the Miami Breast Cancer Conference® (MBCC) and helped shepherd its growth into a premier medical meeting, died peacefully in Weston, Florida, on July 15 at the age of 98, according to his widow, Lois Osman. Together, the couple was the driving force behind the conference for 30 years.
For MBCC, Dr Osman developed a unique format with experts delivering short, focused presentations on relevant clinical topics. He would scour medical journals from all over the world for “hot subjects” that could be presented at the conference.
“You can’t discuss what you did last year or no one’s going to come,” he told OncLive® in 2011, his 28th year as program director. “From each journal, I try to get a piece of what I think is a hot subject, something that looks like it’s valuable. I try to put that all together.”
In the late 1970s, lumpectomy was a new and poorly understood surgery for patients with breast cancer. Dr Osman, then a young breast cancer surgeon, believed that this minimally invasive surgery would revolutionize care, but there were no existing conferences where he could share his knowledge with other surgeons who were also performing the procedure.
He first corresponded with some of the only other surgeons working with lumpectomies at the time, including Bernard Fisher, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a Giants of Cancer Care® award winner who pioneered the procedure, and Umberto Veronesi, MD, who went on to found the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy. Then, with the help of his wife, Dr Osman began the arduous task of organizing a breast cancer conference.
Only 95 surgeons attended that first meeting in 1983, and the Osmans made a point to greet each attendee personally. The conference has since grown into a multidisciplinary event that attracts more than 1000 participants. The meeting includes sessions on medical oncology, surgery, radiotherapy, and many aspects of patient-centered care. The 37th annual meeting, held at the Fountainebleau Miami Beach in March 2020, included a daylong symposium for patients.
MBCC has always been at the forefront of developments in breast cancer treatment thanks to Dr Osman. For example, the conference featured presentations on targeting HER2 and the genetic links to breast cancer years before they were routinely discussed in practice.
“He was fascinated by the science long before most people were,” said Patrick I. Borgen, MD, who has served as program chair of MBCC since 2014. “He included science in the Miami Breast Cancer Conference® when almost no other meeting had science.
“This type of meeting absolutely did not exist in the 1980s,” added Borgen, chair of the Department of Surgery and director of the Brooklyn Breast Cancer Program at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City. “There was just nothing like it. Dan's contribution was his vision—how forward thinking he was to come up with a format that we use 37 years later.”
Borgen said the meeting still follows the guiding principle Dr Osman established: “Whatever you learn by Friday, you can use on Monday.”
In 2012, the Osmans turned over day-to-day operations for the conference to Physicians’ Education Resource® (PER®) LLC, the leading provider of oncology/hematology continuing medical education.
“Dr Osman was a pioneer not only in cancer treatment, but also in medical education,” said Mike Hennessy Jr, president and CEO of MJH Life Sciences™, the parent company of PER®. “As the founder of the annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference® nearly 40 years ago, he understood the real challenges that breast surgeons faced in practice and had the vision to create a forum not only to share best practices but apply new strategies to the clinic.”
Phil Talamo, CHCP, president of PER®, said the organization built on Dr Osman’s legacy. “As breast cancer became increasingly complex with the rapid development of new agents, testing strategies, and patient-centric care, PER® acquired the conference to foster its growth and educate a contemporary cancer team. In working with Dr Osman, we evolved the conference into a landmark event, where attendance has become an integral part of being a breast oncologist.”
Born in Chicago during the 1920s, Dr Osman’s early memories included his dream of becoming a doctor. He realized this dream in 1949 when he graduated from Chicago Medical School.In 1951, after an internship in Georgia, he enlisted in the US Army during the Korean War, wherehe served in the first Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH unit) and as a medical officer in a prisoner of war camp. He was honored with a Bronze Star for his exceptional service.
After his military service, Dr Osman joined Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami as a resident, first in pathology and then in surgery. He specialized in breast cancer surgery in the Miami area for more than 35 years, first at Mercy and Hialeah Hospital and then at Palmetto General Hospital, where he was a founding partner.
“He dearly loved the practice of medicine and his patients,” Lois Osman said.
Another important part of his life was his membership in The Explorers Club, an international professional society that is dedicated to the advancement of field research. As a wildlife enthusiast, Dr Osman traveled all over the world observing and enjoying animals in the wild. He also served as medical director for the Sir Walter Raleigh Expedition and other explorations in New Guinea, Panama, and Kenya with the Royal Geographic Society.
Once while on safari in Africa, Borgen recalled, Osman saw a tiger attack an impala and became curious to know if the animal died from trauma, asphyxiation, or something else. So he took out a knife and performed an impromptu autopsy on the impala to see how the tiger killed. After doing a number of autopsies, he taught someone else how to do it; ultimately, they performed about 50 autopsies and could then decide how the tiger actually killed his prey. The subsequent paper won him membership in The Explorers Club.
“He had a great life,” Borgen said. “He was such a lucky guy. Fortune smiled on him.”
Osman is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Lois Osman, and a blended family that includes 2 children from a first marriage, Jeff Osman and Pamela Jarrett; 2 stepdaughters, Donna Delano and Sharon Burgos; and 8 grandchildren.
Donations can be made to www.OsmanFoundation.com. A celebration of life event will be held at a later time.