Rogers Award for Excellence in Prevention awarded to Maher Karam-Hage, M.D.

Respected educator, clinician and researcher helps advance tobacco cessation

Maher Karam-Hage, M.D., professor, Behavioral Science and Psychiatry, and associate medical director, Tobacco Treatment Program, is the 2016 recipient of the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in Prevention at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The annual award, now in its 30th year, recognizes employees who consistently demonstrate excellence in their work and dedication to MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer. Its area of focus rotates among patient care, research, education, prevention and administration.

Karam-Hage received $15,000 and a framed certificate of merit at a ceremony yesterday led by Ronald DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson, and Regina Rogers, a senior member of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors. Four finalists, chosen from approximately 40 nominations, also were recognized, receiving $1,500 each and a certificate of merit. They are:

  • Banu Arun, M.D., professor, Breast Medical Oncology
  • Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., professor, Behavioral Science
  • Roy Chemaly, M.D., professor, Infectious Diseases, Infection Control and Employee Health
  • Betty Spears, program coordinator, Dermatology

A leader in smoking cessation; connects well with patients
Karam-Hage leads MD Anderson’s Tobacco Treatment Program, the first of its kind in the nation. He was instrumental in developing the program and has helped thousands of patients become smoke-free.

“Winning this award is so humbling, and I appreciate and thank Ms. Rogers for it,” said Karam-Hage. “It truly shines a spotlight on tobacco and stimulates me and our team to continue in our efforts of smoking cessation. We are proud to be part of the mission to end cancer.”

Karam-Hage joined MD Anderson in 2006 as an assistant professor in Behavioral Science, with a joint appointment as assistant professor in Psychiatry. He is recognized as one of the few experts around the world in psychopharmacology of addictive disorders focusing on tobacco.

“Since the program’s inception in 2006, we have treated more than 8,000 patients and provided around 60,000 outpatient visits,” said Karam-Hage. “Our patients achieve 40 to 45 percent long-term abstinence rates, six months after their treatment, which is almost double the average cessation rate of 20 to 25 percent in traditional programs.”

Through his teaching, hands-on medical education and publication of numerous scientific papers, Karam-Hage has presented the smoking and tobacco cessation message around the United States and the world.

Award represents 30th year of the Rogers family’s commitment
Rogers established the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in 1987 in honor of her parents, the late Julie and Ben Rogers. Ben Rogers served on the Board of Visitors from 1978 until his death in 1994, when his daughter and wife established the Julie & Ben Rogers Breast Diagnostic Clinic in his memory. Julie Rogers died in 1998.

The award also signifies the Rogers family’s relationship with MD Anderson, dating to 1960, when Rogers’ brother, Arvey Rogers, M.D., was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 25.

Regina has served on the board since 1990.

“It has been gratifying to have a 56-year relationship with MD Anderson,” she said. “Over the years, I have seen it grow and flourish and become a leader in research, treatment and prevention, with the most dedicated doctors. Now it’s the number one facility for cancer in the world.”

“When I have the opportunity to meet the nominees, I am amazed and impressed with their level of humanity,” Rogers added. “They are team players and have a great sense of pride in accomplishment and knowledge, working toward the same goal: end cancer.”