Finalists Revealed for the 2016 Giants of Cancer Care Awards

Oncology Live®Vol. 17/No. 11
Volume 17
Issue 11

An elite group of finalists have been recognized for their achievements, talent, and the compassionate care they provide to their patients and families in the 2016 Giants of Cancer Care® recognition program.

An elite group of finalists have been recognized for their achievements, talent, and the compassionate care they provide to their patients and families in the 2016 Giants of Cancer Care® recognition program. The group is being honored and celebrated as the pioneers, innovators, and future generations of leaders for their remarkable achievements in oncology research and clinical practice.

Now in its fourth year, the Giants of Cancer Care recognition program honors renowned physicians and researchers who have devoted their time, talent, and resources to improving the care for patients and families who are affected by cancer. Their discoveries have propelled the field forward and established the building blocks for future advances. Recipients demonstrate the qualities that distinguish this award from others: unlimited selflessness, compassion for their patients, and a desire to understand and develop lifechanging treatments against a disease that affects so many.

A total of 46 finalists were unveiled in 10 categories—breast cancer, community outreach/education, gastrointestinal cancer, genitourinary cancer, hematologic cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, radiation oncology, scientific advances, and surgical oncology during a gala event, “An Evening Under the Stars” on June 2, 2016 in Chicago. The finalists were chosen from nearly 200 nominations submitted by the public from November 2015 through March 2016. The Advisory Board of the Giants of Cancer Care then winnowed the field to these nominees.

This year’s winners will be chosen by a selection committee made up of eminent oncologists, educators, clinicians and researchers. The committee will consider each finalist’s body of work, including clinical impact, significant contributions, and overall accomplishments. The winners will be announced at the 34th Annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium: Innovative Cancer Therapy for Tomorrow® to be held November 9-11 at the New York Marriott Marquis in New York City.


Larry Norton, MD

Sarofim Chair of Clinical Oncology Director, Lauder Breast Center,

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Developed an approach to therapy called “dose density,” or “sequential dose density.” This is a new and more effective way of using anticancer drugs, based on a mathematical model, which maximizes the destruction of cancer cells while minimizing toxicity.

Professor of Medicine, Weill-Cornell Medical College

Norman Wolmark, MD

Chairman, NSABP Foundation

Medical Director Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cancer

Chairman of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) Foundation and principal investigator of the NCI-funded NRG Cooperative Group. He was instrumental in preventing the demise of the NSABP, which has a nearly 60-year history of conducting groundbreaking research studies in breast and colorectal cancer. The NSABP has research sites at nearly 700 major medical centers, university hospitals, large oncology practice groups, and health maintenance organizations in the United States, Canada, and Ireland.

Institute Research

Sandra Swain, MD

Washington Cancer Institute

Medical Director

Georgetown University

Her research addresses some of the barriers to clinical trial participation through the INSPIRE study, which has been successful in increasing the number of Black patients who consent/ participate in breast cancer therapeutic trials at MedStar hospitals.

Professor of Medicine

Martine Piccart, MD, PhD

Université Libre de Bruxelles

Professor of Oncology

Institute Jules Bordet, Brussels, Belgium

With a primary interest in breast cancer and drug development, Dr Piccart is a leader in international research collaboration and is the principal or co-principal investigator of many clinical trials, including HERA, MINDACT, and ALTTO. She is co-founder and chair of the Breast International Group (BIG), uniting 49 academic research groups from around the world and running over 30 trials under its umbrella.

Director of Medicine

Umberto Veronesi, MD

European Institute of Oncology

Scientific Director

Order of Merit of the Italian Republic

Founder of breast-conserving surgery in breast cancer treatment using the the technique of quadrantectomy, which challenged the idea, then dominating among surgeons, that cancer could only be treated with aggressive surgery.

Knight Grand Cross

Community Outreach

Julie Gralow, MD

Jill Bennett Endowed Professor of Breast

Professor of Oncology

Cancer and Professor of Global Health

University of Washington School of Medicine

Director, Breast Medical Oncology, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

Dr Gralow, a noted breast cancer researcher, is the founder, medical director, and team physician of Team Survivor Northwest, a nonprofit that provides fitness and health education programs to enable women cancer survivors, in any stage of treatment or recovery and at any fitness level, to take an active role in their physical and emotional healing.

Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, PhD

Cancer Research Institute

Chief Executive Officer

Dr O’Donnell-Tormey was at the heart of a collaboration between the Cancer Research Institute and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research to develop a worldwide network of scientists and clinicians focused on understanding the immunological response to cancer and harnessing that knowledge for patient benefit. The result was the creation of the Cancer Vaccine Collaborative.

Director of Scientific Affairs

Joyce O’Shaughnessy, MD

Baylor-Sammons Cancer Center

Co-chair, Breast Cancer Research

Chair, Breast Cancer

Dr O’Shaughnessy is the Celebrating Women Endowed Chair in Breast Cancer Research at the Baylor-Charles A. Sammons Cancer Center. She has made significant contributions to breast cancer care by helping to design and oversee clinical trials leading to the FDA approval of gemcitabine (Gemzar) and capecitabine (Xeloda). She also was involved in the original clinical trials of paclitaxel (Taxol) and other breast cancer regimens.

Prevention Research

Tatiana M. Prowell, MD

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr Prowell pioneered a novel pathway to accelerated approval for drugs to treat high-risk, early-stage breast cancer in the neoadjuvant setting. This resulted in accelerated approval of pertuzumab (Perjeta), which substantially prolongs survival in metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. She is the three-time recipient of FDA’s Excellence in Communication Award.

Assistant Professor of Oncology

Gastrointestinal Cancer

Charles S. Fuchs, MD, MPH

Director, Center for Gastrointestinal Cancer

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Professor of Medicine

He leads the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Gastrointestinal Malignancies Program and the DF/HCC SPORE Grant in Gastrointestinal Cancers. Dr Fuchs splits his time between laboratory-based research, clinical research, and clinical care. His laboratory focuses on biochemical markers of GI cancer risk, molecular predictors of patient outcome, and the discovery of novel targets for therapy for patients with gastric, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers.

Harvard Medical School

Richard Goldberg, MD

Physician-in-Chief of the James Cancer

Hospital and Solove Research Institute

Acting Director of the Division of Medical Oncology

Associate Director of The Ohio State

Dr Goldberg’s New England Journal of Medicine study demonstrated significant and long-lasting benefit in patients whose cancers manifest microsatellite instability and were treated with the PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab. Dr Goldberg was the principal investigator of the phase III N9741 study of the combination of IFL, FOLFOX, and FOLFIRI in patients with previously untreated metastatic colorectal cancer that led to the FDA approval of the use of FOLFOX in first-line treatment.

University Comprehensive Cancer Center

Leonard Saltz, MD

Chief, Gastrointestinal Oncology Service

Head, Colorectal Oncology Section

Serves on the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Rectal and Anal Cancer Task Force and is co-leader of the Alliance NCI Cooperative Research Group efforts in colon and rectal cancers. Also serves on three National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines committees: colorectal cancers, neuroendocrine cancers, and unknown primary cancers.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Margaret Tempero, MD

University of California San Francisco

Director, UCSF Pancreas Center

Leader, Pancreas Cancer Program

Professor of Medicine

Division of Hematology and Oncology

Her research career has focused on pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, especially in the area of investigational therapeutics. She was a pioneer in the use of antibody-based therapies and helped develop the fixed dose rate concept for gemcitabine. Her group has developed effective gemcitabine combinations and provided a foundation for using CA19-9 as a surrogate for survival in clinical trials, and currently is assessing molecular subtypes and molecular enrichment for selecting new drugs for clinical evaluation.

University of California San Francisco

Daniel Von Hoff, MD

Physician in Chief

Director, Translational Research

Dr Von Hoff and his colleagues were involved in the development of many agents now used routinely, including: mitoxantrone, fludarabine, paclitaxel, docetaxel, gemcitabine, irinotecan, nelarabine, capecitabine, lapatinib, vismodegib, nab-paclitaxel, nal-IRI, and others. Currently, he and his colleagues are concentrating on the development of molecularly targeted therapies for patients with pancreatic and other advanced cancers.

Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN)

Genitourinary Cancer

Dean F. Bajorin, MD

Medical Oncologist

Frederick R. Adler Senior Faculty Chair

Helped ASCO shape a new strategic plan to address the looming shortage of oncologists in the United States by 2020, including the development of innovative practice arrangements. Currently the chair-elect for the Professional Development Committee, which oversees ASCO’s efforts in career development, lifelong learning, and fellowship training for oncologists.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Charles Drake, MD, PhD

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Associate Professor of Oncology, Urology, and Immunology

His research seeks to understand the T-cell response to evolving tumors at a cellular and genetic level with the aim of using this information to develop integrated immunotherapy strategies for patients with cancer.

Co-director of the Prostate Cancer Multidisciplinary Clinic

Celestia S. Higano, MD

Professor of Medicine and Urology

University of Washington School of Medicine

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Dr Higano conducts clinical/translational research in prostate cancer. Her group has been directly involved in the development of sipuleucel- T, enzalutamide, abiraterone, and radium 223. She is principal investigator on several on-going phase III trials. Her own research focuses on using intermittent androgen suppression to study the side effects of androgen deprivation therapy.

Seattle Cancer Alliance

Robert J. Motzer, MD

Medical Oncologist

Led more than 50 clinical trials in patients with kidney cancer and testicular cancer, including national and international multicenter clinical trials. His research has helped to identify five targeted drugs— sunitinib (Sutent), pazopanib (Votrient), axitinib (Inlyta), temsirolimus (Torisel), and everolimus (Afinitor)—as effective treatments for patients with advanced kidney cancer.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Nicholas Vogelzang, MD

US Oncology, Comprehensive Cancer Center of Nevada

Medical Director, US Oncology Research

Executive Committee

He directed the largest phase II trial for mesothelioma using the combination therapy of pemetrexed (Alimta) and cisplatin, resulting in tumor shrinkage in 41% of patients. Dr Vogelzang also led research for two FDA-approved prostate cancer treatments, sipuleucel-T (Provenge) and radium-223 (Xofigo). He was the principal investigator at the University of Chicago for Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) from 1988 to 1999, and chair of the CALGB Prostate Committee from 1993 to 1999. He is a founding board member of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF).

Associate Chair for the Genitourinary and Developmental Therapeutics Programs

Hematologic Cancer

Fred R. Applebaum, MD

Executive Director and President

As part of the Southwest Oncology Group, he formed the first multicenter bone marrow transplant clinical trials group. This concept eventually evolved into the federally funded Bone Marrow Transplant Clinical Trials Network. Key contributor to the discovery and development of gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg), the first monoclonal antibody approved by the FDA to treat acute myeloid leukemia.

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

James F. Holland, MD

Professor of Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology

Professor of Oncological Sciences

Distinguished Professor of Neoplastic Diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. His 1953 clinical trial on acute leukemia resulted in the formation of Acute Leukemia Group B, a research collaboration that later became known as the Cancer and Leukemia Group B. He is considered a key figure in the development of cancer chemotherapy.

Mount Sinai Tisch Cancer Institute

Kanti R. Rai, MD

Chief, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Research and Treatment Program

Leader during the past 4 decades, in leukemia research, specifically in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Developed prognostic criteria in CLL in 1975, which are still recognized all over the world as the Rai Staging System.

North Shore-LIJ

Margaret A. Shipp, MD

Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Her work characterized the molecular basis for the recognized clinical heterogeneity in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). Earlier studies focused on specific genes and pathways implicated in the biology of normal and malignant lymphoid progenitors. Her research defined three discrete subsets of DLBCLs: oxidative phosphorylation, B-cell receptor/proliferation, and host response tumors.

Director, Lymphoma Program, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Lung Cancer

David Ettinger, MD

Alex Grass Professor in Oncology

Member of the Board of Directors of the NCCN as well as a member of the NCCN Guidelines Steering Committee. In addition, he has been chairman of the NCCN non— small cell lung cancer practice guidelines panel, the antiemetic practice guidelines panel, and the occult primary tumor practice guidelines panel.

Johns Hopkins University

Waun Ki Hong, MD

Head, Division of Cancer Medicine

His landmark studies demonstrating that high-dose retinoic acid can reverse oral premalignant lesions and prevent the development of second primary tumors were the first to prove that chemoprevention can work in humans.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Bruce E. Johnson, MD

Chief, Clinical Research Officer

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Johnson leads the Lung Cancer Program where he and fellow researchers identified subsets of patients with adenocarcinoma of the lung who respond differently to targeted agents. Johnson’s laboratory continues to study the relationship between different mutations in the epidermal growth factor receptor, their susceptibility to different epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors, and the signaling pathways.

Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Karen Kelly, MD

Associate Director for Clinical Research

Her lung cancer research spans the spectrum of the disease from prevention to treatment. She has been at the forefront of clinical trial development evaluating drugs to treat lung cancer and novel compounds to prevent lung cancer.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center


Thomas Gajewski, MD

Professor of Medicine

Investigates and develops new treatments for patients with melanoma, and has a particular interest in the molecular and cellular regulation of T-lymphocyte activation and differentiation, and in turn applies this information to preclinical and clinical efforts to promote antitumor immunity in vivo.

University of Chicago

F. Stephen Hodi, Jr, MD

Director, Melanoma Center

Director, Center for Immuno-Oncology

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center

Associate Professor of Medicine

His laboratory is focused on the manipulation of genes that encode for immunomodulators like cytokines and tumor antigens.

Harvard Medical School

John A. Thompson, MD

Co-Director of Melanoma Clinic

Dr Thompson’s research efforts focus on the role of immunotherapy in cancer, especially activated lymphocytes and cytokines, and the use of stem cell transplants for kidney cancer and melanoma. Dr. Thompson serves as principal investigator on numerous trials including two national, randomized phase III trials of the allogeneic tumor lysate vaccine Melacine (SWOG 9035).

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

Jeffrey S. Weber, MD, PhD

Deputy Director and Co-Director of the Melanoma Program

His research, which has been continuously funded by the NCI for over 20 years, focuses on experimental therapeutics and drug development, particularly in the areas of immunotherapy and checkpoint inhibitory antibody development in melanoma and other types of cancer. Specifically, his laboratory monitors and characterizes how T cells respond in patients with cancer who are undergoing immune therapy.

Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Medical Center

Jeffrey Sosman, MD

Co-Leader, Translational Research in Solid Tumors (TRIST) Program

Director of the Melanoma Program

Director for Faculty Development, Lurie Cancer Center

Dr Sosman is widely recognized for his initiatives to bring translational medicine to melanoma therapy. His research includes the study of this most deadly form of skin cancer that has seen great breakthroughs in both targeted therapy and immune-based therapy in recent years.

Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern University

Radiation Oncology

Ralph Weichselbaum, MD

Daniel K. Ludwig Distinguished Service

Professor of Radiation and Cellular Oncology

His research interests include mechanisms of tumor spread and how radiation therapy and immunotherapy can be used to better treat cancer. He is also studying patterns of gene expression in human tumors that confer resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

University of Chicago

Samuel Hellman, MD

Former Dean and A. N. Pritzker Professor of the Division of Biological Sciences

Active in both clinical and laboratory investigation, Dr Hellman has been involved in studies of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lymphoma. The breast cancer studies are of conservative management and the natural history of regionally treated disease. Both of these studies emphasize the importance of understanding the clinical evolution of the disease in order to develop effective multidisciplinary therapy.

University of Chicago

Sarah S. Donaldson, MD

Catharine and Howard Avery Professor of Radiation Oncology

Her clinical focus is on pediatric radiation oncology (solid tumors, lymphomas, CNS tumors, and stem cell transplantation), soft tissue sarcoma (rhabdomyosarcoma, non-rhabdomyosarcoma, and bone tumors); eye and orbital diseases; breast cancer; rare benign and malignant tumors; late effects of cancer and its treatment.

Stanford University

Thomas A. Buchholz, MD

Executive Vice President and Physician- in-Chief

In his role as physician-in-chief, Dr Buchholz is responsible for the clinical faculty and clinical care provided in MD Anderson’s Houston hospital and ambulatory clinics.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Scientific Advances

Lewis C. Cantley, PhD

Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward

Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College

Ronald P. Stanton Clinical Cancer Program at New York-Presbyterian

His seminal discovery was the pathway phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway in 1984, with fundamental implications in our understanding of cancer metabolism and insulin signaling. He subsequently mapped the upstream regulation of PI3K and the downstream signaling pathways. The first drug targeting the PI3K pathway as a treatment for cancer—the PI3K-delta inhibitor idelalisib— was approved by the FDA as a treatment for leukemia and two types of lymphoma in July 2014.

Professor of Cancer Biology in Medicine

Carlo Croce, MD

Professor and Chair

Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics

Dr Croce has made seminal contributions to basic and translational research through positional cloning and characterization of genes at chromosomal translocation breakpoints in cancer cells, permitting identification and subsequent characterization of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes (both protein coding and non—protein-coding genes), with key contributions to cancer development.

Ohio State University

Michelle Le Beau, PhD

Arthur and Marian Edelstein Professor,

Department of Medicine

Director, The University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC)

With more than 410 peer-reviewed publications, her research focuses on: (1) the molecular cloning of a myeloid leukemia-related gene involved in the —5/del(5q) characteristic of acute myeloid leukemia (t-AML); (2) genomic profiling and the identification of genetic pathways leading to t-AML; (3) genetic characterization of murine models recapitulating the genetic mutations in AML; and (4) elucidation of the mechanism for the genetic instability characteristic of chromosomal fragile sites.

Director, Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory

John Mendelsohn, MD

Professor, Department of Genomic Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine

He and Gordon Sato, and their collaborators in California, produced monoclonal antibody 225, which inhibits human cancer cell proliferation by blocking the signaling pathways that are activated by epidermal growth factor receptors. His subsequent research in the laboratory and clinic pioneered the universally adopted concept of anti-receptor therapy that targets key cell signaling pathways as a new form of cancer treatment.

Past President of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Mark J. Ratain, MD

Leon O. Jacobson Professor of Medicine

Director, Center for Personalized Therapeutics

Associate Director for Clinical Sciences

Comprehensive Cancer Center

Dr Ratain is an international leader in phase I clinical trials, pharmacogenetics, and clinical trial methodology. He has more than 260 original publications, leads the University of Chicago’s phase I oncology trials program, serves as chief hospital pharmacologist for the University of Chicago Medical Center.

The University of Chicago

Surgical Oncology

Sir Murray F. Brennan, MD

Vice President for International Programs

Benno C. Schmidt Chair in Clinical Oncology

Director, The Bobst International Center

He created the world’s largest database of sarcoma patients, which includes more than 10,000 patients treated at MSK since 1982. Based on this extensive information, his team has developed computer programs that predict local recurrence and survival for individual patients.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

John L. Cameron, MD

Professor of Surgery

He has won worldwide acclaim for mastering the Whipple procedure in pancreatic cancer. At the beginning of his career, the mortality rate from the Whipple procedure was nearly 30%. He has worked to lower that to 1% to 2% at Johns Hopkins.

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

David Sugarbaker, MD

Professor and Chief

Division of General Thoracic Surgery

Focused his career on the treatment of pleural mesothelioma. He pioneered the concept of multimodality therapy of mesothelioma including the surgical technique of extrapleural pneumonectomy. He founded The International Mesothelioma Program in Boston in 2002 and The Mesothelioma Treatment Center at Baylor St Luke’s Medical Center in Houston in 2014.

Baylor College of Medicine

Here’s to the finalists!

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