Faculty Educator of the Month: November 2009

Dr. Robert A. Wolff

Dr. Robert A. Wolff, director of educational programs and deputy division head of clinical and educational affairs in the Division of Cancer Medicine, and professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, has been named the November 2009 Faculty Educator of the Month.

Since being named director of educational programs in 1999, Dr. Wolff has been a significant contributor to the division’s efforts in training young physicians. Specifically, he has been key to expansion of the Hematology/ Medical Oncology Fellowship Program, which is now known as the MD Anderson Fellowship Program. He also revised the curriculum in the program, which is a balance between research and clinical education as well as preparation of fellows for gaining board eligibility in oncology and hematology. Furthermore, Dr. Wolff continues to oversee development of the curriculum in the program, and he seeks to gain recognition and support of oncology educators.

Dr. Wolff has also contributed to the fellowship program as a mentor. Since 1998, he has mentored eight fellows in the program, several of whom are now MD Anderson faculty members. Also, he has chaired the GI Malignancies session of A Comprehensive Board Review in Hematology Oncology, an educational course at MD Anderson and Baylor College of Medicine geared toward physicians, oncologists, hematologists, nurses and physician assistants. As an attending physician in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, Dr. Wolff is further able to work with trainees one on one by providing guidance to fellows and residents.

In addition, Dr. Wolff was elected to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Education Committee in 2004. He also is a member of the ASCO Subcommittee for Gastrointestinal Cancers (non-colorectal tract). He chaired the 2005 ASCO Educational Session entitled Controversies in the Use of Adjuvant Therapy for Patients with Pancreatic Cancer, and he was invited to deliver a lecture entitled Targeted Therapies in Pancreatic Cancer at the ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancer Symposium.

Dr. Wolff also is a representative for MD Anderson on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Panel. Additionally, he has given presentations at a long list of conferences and meetings throughout the world. He also directly supervised several medical students at Duke University Medical Center from 1992 to 1997.

Dr. Wolff’s educational efforts have been well recognized over the past decade. In particular, he received the Gerald P. Bodey Award for Excellence in Education in 2007 and the Leadership in Education in 2006. Furthermore, he was named Teacher of the Year in 2003 by the medical and surgical oncology fellows. His clinical achievements also have been recognized, as he has made the Best Doctors in America list every year since 2001.

Dr. Wolff received his M.D. degree from Albany Medical College in Albany, NY, in 1986. He then went to Duke University Medical Center, where he completed a clinical residency in internal medicine in 1989 and a fellowship in hematology/ oncology in 1992.

Following his fellowship, Dr. Wolff stayed on at Duke University Medical Center as an associate in medicine. In 1997, he came to MD Anderson as an assistant professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology. He was promoted to associate professor in 2003 and professor in 2008. Also, Dr. Wolff served as deputy chairman for clinical affairs in the department from 2003 to 2006 and was named deputy division head of clinical and educational affairs in 2006.

Since 2003, Dr. Wolff has twice been a consultant for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. He also is a consultant for the ASCO Colorectal Think Tank and for the Center for Global Oncology on Doha, Qatar. His other commitments at MD Anderson include membership on the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff, Patient Safety Committee and Promotion and Tenure Committee.

Over the past decade, Dr. Wolff has been a principal investigator for 10 grant-funded research projects. He also has been grant reviewer for the Lustgarten Foundation.

Along with Drs. Charles Koller and Hagop Kantarjian in the Department of Leukemia, Dr. Wolff edited the first edition of the MD Anderson Manual of Medical Oncology, which was published in 2006. This reference manual describes the multidisciplinary approach to diagnosis and treatment of several types of cancer at MD Anderson. A second edition of the manual is planned for publication in 2010.

Currently, Dr. Wolff is a reviewer for the journals Cancer, Clinical Cancer Research and Journal of Clinical Oncology. Over the course of his career, Dr. Wolff has authored more than 100 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, 10 invited articles, 16 book chapters, one book, one editorial and several abstracts.