Betty Kim, M.D., Ph.D., honored with Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence
$15,000 prize recognizes neurosurgery professor’s commitment to end cancer
HOUSTON ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has awarded Betty Kim, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Neurosurgery, the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in Cancer Research. The annual award recognizes employees who consistently demonstrate excellence in their work and dedication to MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. The award’s focus rotates annually among the areas of patient care, research, education, prevention and administration, with this year’s award focusing on research.
“I am proud to recognize Dr. Kim’s remarkable achievements and dedication to advancing scientific breakthroughs for our patients,” said Pisters. “Dr. Kim, along with the other finalists, represents the very best in cancer research. From an innovative idea to its translation in our clinics and then its dissemination to patients around the world, these clinicians and scientists demonstrate MD Anderson’s determination to finally end cancer.”
Neurosurgery professor conducts groundbreaking brain cancer research using nanotechnology Kim joined MD Anderson’s faculty in 2019. She holds over a dozen patents and technology licenses for her groundbreaking work in cancer immunotherapy and nanomedicine. Kim’s research team has collaborated with investigators from multiple departments across the institution on studies to understand the mechanisms by which glioblastoma cells evade immune cells and to develop therapies that enhance immune activation. The early work from these efforts enabled publication of several impactful studies in Nature Nanotechnology and Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Kim’s lab currently works on studies to increase the activity of myeloid cells to better treat cancer. Through nanomaterials, the research team is altering macrophages and myeloid cells to engage the cancer cells early, with the hope that the myeloid cells will then present tumor antigen fragments and trigger a T cell response. When Kim entered the field 15 years ago, nanotechnology was in its infancy. Still, Kim recognized the promise nanotechnology held for the future of cancer care and dedicated her career to discovering new ways it could benefit cancer patients.
“I am a strong believer that the merging of new technologies to study and treat cancer will have real impact on the clinical care of our patients,” said Kim. “I am committed to the development of new technological tools that will enable us to better understand brain cancers, to find new targets that will expose their weaknesses, and to engineer sophisticated systems that will help find a cure. There is no better place to do all these things than at MD Anderson.”
Kim completed her bachelor’s degree in anatomy and cell biology at McGill University and medical degree in faculty medicine at McMaster University. As a medical student, she was selected by the Burrough’s Wellcome Foundation to study “scatter factor” molecules in brain tumors at Johns Hopkins University. For her residency, Kim was admitted to the Clinician Investigator Program at the University of Toronto, where she studied biomedical engineering with an emphasis on nanomedicine. Kim completed two clinical fellowships at MD Anderson in neurosurgical oncology and skull base surgery. After spending four years as an assistant professor and physician scientist at the Mayo Clinic, she returned to
MD Anderson as an associate professor with a joint appointment at Baylor College of Medicine. In 2021, Kim was selected as a fellow in the prestigious Andrew Sabin Family Fellowship program at MD Anderson for her outstanding work as a physician scientist.
Although Kim began her career as a surgeon, she says her desire is to focus on cancer research. “Research offers hope that my work can benefit more people in the future,” said Kim. “That’s the dream of a translational scientist: to hear that people are living longer because of what you did in the lab.”
Rogers Award celebrates family’s longtime commitment to Making Cancer History® Regina Rogers, who has served on the BOV since 1990, established the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in 1987 in honor of her parents, the late Julie and Ben Rogers. While this year marks the 36th anniversary of the award’s establishment, the Rogers family’s involvement with MD Anderson spans more than 60 years.
“The Rogers family are treasured ambassadors, epitomes of our core values of caring, integrity, discovery, safety and stewardship,” said Pisters. “It is because of incredibly generous and forward-thinking people like Regina and her family that we are best poised to carry out our mission to end cancer.”
In 1960, Regina’s brother, Arvey Rogers, M.D., was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. A lengthy and successful surgery performed by MD Anderson’s Edgar C. White, M.D., and R. Lee Clark, M.D., enabled him to continue to lead a normal life. In 1987, Regina’s mother, Julie Rogers, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through the surgical expertise of Richard Martin, M.D., and Fred Ames, M.D., she recovered and remained an active supporter of MD Anderson until her death in February 1998. Regina’s father, Ben Rogers, served on the BOV from 1978 until his death in 1994. He was named a Life Member in 1991.
“With this award, now in its 36th year, it is an honor to be able to recognize exceptional and inspirational individuals who are completely dedicated to MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer and a testimony to my parents’ legacy and our family’s commitment to this wonderful institution,” said Rogers.
From an innovative idea to its translation in our clinics and then its dissemination to patients around the world, these clinicians and scientists demonstrate MD Anderson’s determination to finally end cancer.