Pioneering MD Anderson faculty receive endowed awards
HOUSTON ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center named this year’s recipients of its most prestigious endowed faculty awards during the President’s Recognition of Faculty Excellence event.
“We proudly recognize these exemplary clinicians and researchers for their bold innovation and relentless pursuit of excellence. They are discovering new treatments, improving existing therapies and identifying early interventions for cancer prevention. Their dedication advances our mission to end cancer,” said President Peter WT Pisters, M.D., in a message to the institution following the event.
Shirley Stein Scientific Endowed Research Award The Shirley Stein Scientific Endowed Research Award recognizes the exceptional clinical research of faculty members with limited project resources. The endowment was established in 2014 by Board of Visitors (BOV) member Gary Stein and his family and BOV Life Member Regina Rogers. Each recipient receives $10,000 to generate preliminary data to support their competition for larger grants and federal funding. The 2022 recipients are:
Chatterjee is recognized for her scholarship in gastrointestinal (GI) and hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) pathology, including multiple interdisciplinary publications within her areas of expertise. She engages in translational research in liver, pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers and recently was awarded a junior faculty seed grant by the department of Pathology for her original research project on tumor-insular complexes in pancreatic cancer.
Schueler is recognized for his work focusing on FLASH radiation therapy, an innovative approach with potential to shift current practice in radiation oncology. FLASH radiation therapy delivers radiation at extremely high dose rates in very brief times and allows more precise targeting of the tumor and less exposure to nearby normal tissues. Schueler is establishing the technical infrastructure for translating FLASH for patient treatment, is developing the physics and dosimetry measurements needed to ensure patient safety and is conducting preclinical studies with cell cultures and animal models to optimize outcomes and reveal how FLASH spares noncancerous tissues.
R. Lee Clark Prize Established in 2016 and funded by the Estate of Jeanne F. Shelby, the R. Lee Clark Prize recognizes MD Anderson faculty in clinical research and basic/translational research with a $5,000 prize. The prize honors the dedication to scholarship, service and social responsibility embraced by the late R. Lee Clark, M.D., first president of MD Anderson. The 2022 recipients are:
Maitra is the scientific director of the Maitra Laboratory at the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy, and is the holder of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Distinguished University Chair. The principal investigator of an NCI-funded laboratory dedicated to pancreatic cancer research, he has trained more than 50 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, many of whom are now independent faculty members in institutions across the country. With over 300 peer-reviewed publications, he is the second-most cited pancreatic cancer researcher in the world.
Internationally recognized for her research, Schmeler has increased awareness of global disparities in cervical cancer screening and care. Her mentorship of young physicians has improved patient care in many communities that might otherwise not have access to an expert in gynecologic cancers. Through Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), her team serves as mentors and teachers for physicians in Rio Grande Valley, Mozambique, Brazil, Colombia and other areas around the globe that are underserved in HPV prevention and cervical cancer care.
The John Mendelsohn Award for Faculty Leadership The Mendelsohn Award was established in 2019 to honor the late John Mendelsohn, M.D., third president of MD Anderson. Mendelsohn inspired achievements in research-driven patient care, directed expansion of clinical and research facilities, and forged a research program focused on translating scientific findings to patient care and prevention. The annual $5,000 award recognizes a faculty member who reflects Mendelsohn’s leadership, scholarship and values. The 2022 recipient is:
Lozano is internationally renowned in the field of cancer genetics. In 1987, she became the first to establish p53 as a transcriptional activator of other genes. Sometimes called the "guardian of the genome," p53 is a tumor suppressor gene that, when neutralized, plays a critical role in the development of many types of tumors. In 2017, she became the sixth MD Anderson scientist to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and the first faculty member selected based on research conducted while at MD Anderson.
The Jack and Beverly Randall Prize for Excellence in Cancer Treatment MD Anderson Board of Visitors member Jack Randall and his wife, Beverly, established The Jack and Beverly Randall Prize for Excellence in Cancer Treatment in 2011 to encourage innovative ideas and the novel thinking necessary to end cancer. The $100,000 Randall Prize honors researchers and clinicians who demonstrate uncommon foresight and ingenuity, as well as dedication to excellence in cancer care. The annual prize alternates between supporting exceptional researchers and thoughtful clinicians caring for patients with cancer. The 2022 recipient is:
Cabanillas is one of the foremost endocrinologists performing innovative clinical research in thyroid cancer. When she first entered the field, patients with anaplastic thyroid carcinoma had a median survival of about 3-4 months. Through her work at MD Anderson, Cabanillas has transformed the standard of care and increased the median survival for those in her trials to 18+ months, with many patients nearly disease-free for several years. She led the creation of FAST (Facilitating Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Specialized Treatment), a multidisciplinary group at MD Anderson that sees the highest volume of anaplastic thyroid cancer patients in the nation. Additionally, Cabanillas established a fund to aid patients without the means to travel to MD Anderson for evaluation and clinical trial enrollment, which has enabled many patients to access care.
Maria Cabanillas, M.D., and Chief Medical Executive Welela Tereffe, at the President's Recognition of Faculty Excellence celebration, where Cabanillas won the Randall Prize for Excellence in Cancer Treatment
“We proudly recognize these exemplary clinicians and researchers for their bold innovation and relentless pursuit of excellence."