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Dr. von Eschenbach Named Head of NCI

Dr. von Eschenbach Named Head of NCI
M. D. Anderson News Release 12/06/01

Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach is a nationally recognized urologic surgeon who directs the Genitourinary Cancer Center and the Prostate Cancer Research Program at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Dr. von Eschenbach also serves as special assistant for external affairs to M. D. Anderson’s president and holds the Roy M. and Phyllis Gough Huffington Clinical Research Distinguished Chair in Urologic Oncology.  As a member of the faculty since 1977, he has provided leadership for the institution’s multidisciplinary research aimed at improving early detection, treatment and prevention of prostate cancer.

At the national level, Dr. von Eschenbach recently was chosen president-elect of the American Cancer Society.  He is vice chairman of the Steering Committee for the National Dialogue on Cancer, for which he was a founding member.  He also served three years as the first chairman of the Prostate Cancer Research Program’s Integration Panel for the Department of Defense.

M. D. Anderson President Dr. John Mendelsohn describes Dr. von Eschenbach as “a passionate and visionary leader in the research-driven care of patients with prostate and other genitourinary cancers.  He has devoted his career to the practice of medicine in an academic setting, where he has worked collaboratively with many basic and clinical scientists.  He has a firm understanding of the role research plays in improving the outlook for patients with cancer.”

Dr. von Eschenbach says that while he is encouraged by recent progress against cancer, he believes accelerating basic research and applying laboratory findings more rapidly must be “high priorities” to reduce the mortality and morbidity rates of all cancers.

 “Because we are beginning to understand cancer at the genetic and molecular level, we have many opportunities to develop targeted therapies.  I am confident that the answers to the overall cancer problem will come through broadening basic research and transferring new discoveries from that research to more effective methods of detecting, treating and preventing all types of cancer,” Dr. von Eschenbach says.

A native of Philadelphia, Dr. von Eschenbach received his medical degree from Georgetown University Medical School in 1967.  He completed residencies in general surgery and urology at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, then was an instructor in urology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.  He served as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps.

Dr. von Eschenbach came to M. D. Anderson for a fellowship in urologic oncology in 1976 and was invited to join the faculty the following year.  From 1983 to 1996, he was chairman of the Department of Urology and, since 1985, he also has been a consulting professor in the Department of Cancer Biology.

In 1996, Dr. von Eschenbach was named the founding director of M. D. Anderson’s Prostate Cancer Research Program, which has 60 scientists and clinicians collaborating on integrated translational research in the biology, treatment, epidemiology and prevention of the disease.  From 1997 to 1999, he also served as vice president for academic affairs and then executive vice president and chief academic officer, leading a faculty of almost 1,000 cancer researchers and clinicians.  Since 1999, he has directed the Genitourinary Cancer Center.

Dr. von Eschenbach has contributed more than 200 articles and books and chapters to the scientific literature.  He is an editorial board member of four leading journals and serves on the board for the National Coalition for Cancer Research.  He has been cited in many lists of “best doctors” in the country.

Dr. von Eschenbach’s decision to dedicate his career to changing the outlook for prostate cancer was partly influenced by his father’s diagnosis of the disease in the 1970s. His sensitivity to the physical and emotional needs of both patients and their families was heightened after Dr. von Eschenbach himself was successfully treated for two types of cancer, melanoma in 1989 and prostate cancer two years ago.

“I have been so privileged for the past 25 years to participate in collaborative translational research that continues making a substantial difference for patients with all types of cancer.  As a clinician, I have seen an increasing number of patients live longer, many being cured.  Personally, as a two-time cancer survivor, I have benefited from those improving treatments, too.

“My goal for the future is to accelerate making new discoveries and delivering targeted therapies as rapidly as possible to cancer patients.  I want to extend training and development of young scientists and clinicians who can hasten our progress, and I am keenly aware of the need to reduce the burden of cancer for those in minority and underserved populations,” Dr. von Eschenbach says.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center