Faculty Educator of the Month: January 2009

Dr. Emil J. Freireich

Emil J Freireich, M.D., D.Sc. (Hon.), director of Special Medical Education Programs and the Adult Leukemia Research Program and professor in the departments of Leukemia and Laboratory Medicine, has been named the January 2009 Faculty Educator of the Month.
Over his more than four decades of service at MD Anderson, Dr. Freireich has made significant contributions to the education of young physicians and scientists. A prime example of this is his current role of director of Special Medical Education Programs. In this position, he organizes and directs Institutional Grand Rounds, which is a survey of the advances in oncology presented to faculty and trainees in weekly lectures.
In addition, Dr. Freireich is a member of the Graduate Medical Education (GME) Committee. As chair of the GME Curriculum Subcommittee, he organizes the Core Curriculum, which is mandatory for all new clinical trainees at MD Anderson, and the GME Competency Series, a mandatory lecture series.
Furthermore, Dr. Freireich oversees the Physician Scientist Training Program, a two-year National Institutes of Health-funded clinical research curriculum that includes informal training sessions and a mentorship and certificate program. Investigators in this program receive guidance and training toward careers in patient-oriented research.
Dr. Freireich is also a member of the Continuing Medical Education Committee, and he has continuously served as a full faculty member at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston. Additionally, he currently serves on the executive committee of the small “P” program in “patient-based research,” and he is a member of the M.D./Ph.D. Committee, which is jointly run by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and MD Anderson.
On several occasions, Dr. Freireich has co-chaired the Foundations of Clinical Cancer Research Symposium, an MD Anderson conference geared toward physicians and other health care professionals specializing in medical oncology, radiation oncology, surgical oncology and internal medicine. Also, he has participated in the Division of Medicine Fellowship Advisory Committee and the Ad Hoc GME Council, and he has directly supervised several graduate students.
Dr. Freireich was recognized for his contributions to education with the 2000 MD Anderson Faculty Achievement Award for Education and the 2005 Gerald P. Bodey Award for Excellence in Education. Furthermore, he has received the MD Anderson President’s Award (2000), Charles A. LeMaistre, M.D., Outstanding Achievement Award in Cancer (2000), University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award (2000), 9th Cino del Duca Award from the 11th International Congress on Anti-Cancer Treatment (2001), Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (2003), Honorary First Fellow Award from the 40th Anniversary of the Medical Oncology Fellowship Program (2006) and Paul Ehrlich Magic Bullet Award (2008). Dr. Freireich is also a founding member of The University of Texas Academy of Health Science Education (2006).
Dr. Freireich received his M.D. degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1949. He then completed a clinical internship at Cook County Hospital and residency in internal medicine at Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago in 1953. Dr. Freireich next spent two years as a research associate in hematology at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston before moving on to the Leukemia Service of the National Cancer Institute, where he served as head and a senior investigator until 1965.
Dr. Freireich then arrived at MD Anderson when he was named to his current position of professor. He was named director of the Adult Leukemia Research Program in 1985 and director of the Special Medical Education Programs in 2000. In addition, Dr. Freireich has been the Ruth Harriet Ainsworth Professor of Medicine since 1981 and received his joint appointment as professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine in 1987.
Among Dr. Freireich’s career highlights are the development of several leukemia therapy and clinical research techniques. Specifically, he was the first to perform leukocyte transfusion and demonstrate engrafting of peripheral blood stem cells, providing allogeneic bone marrow grafts. Also, he helped develop allogeneic platelet transfusion and treatment strategies for infectious complications. Dr. Freireich also patented the first continuous-flow blood cell separator, which is used in most pheresis centers.
Dr. Freireich currently spends 30% of his working day in the Department of Leukemia, where he cares for patients with leukemia and supervises research protocols on treatment of this disease. In his joint appointment with the Department of Laboratory Medicine, he collaborates on an important transfusion study. Furthermore, Dr. Freireich obtained one of the first formal training program grants in medical oncology at MD Anderson, and he serves on the Division of Cancer Medicine Committee for Medical Oncology Fellow Training.
At present, Dr. Freireich is an editorial review board member for four journals and an honorary member of the editorial board for the journal Leukemia. Over the course of his professional career, Dr. Freireich has authored more than 500 articles published in peer-reviewed journals, nearly 50 invited articles, and more than 100 book chapters, and he has written or edited 16 books.