MD Anderson faculty recognized for innovation in cancer research and treatment
Endowed faculty awards propel advances in cancer research and cancer treatment
Through the generosity of members of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors (BOV) and their families, four exceptional faculty members received cash awards in August at the annual President's Recognition of Faculty Excellence.
"This incredible show of support from these Board of Visitors members is truly appreciated," said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president. "By providing these valuable resources, they challenge our faculty more than ever to push the boundaries and develop new cancer treatments and techniques in cancer care and cancer research. It's extremely encouraging to have supporters like these on our side."
The Jack and Beverly Randall Prize for Excellence in Cancer Treatment
Pedro Ramirez, M.D., professor, Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine
MD Anderson BOV member Jack Randall and his wife, Beverly, established the $100,000 cash prize in 2015 with a $1.2 million endowment. Their annual award encourages innovative ideas and honors cancer researchers and clinicians who demonstrate uncommon foresight and dedication to excellence in cancer treatment.
Ramirez's work as a leader of MD Anderson's Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Program has led to significant improvements in patient experience and outcomes, including a 25% reduction in inpatient recovery time and an 80% reduction in opioid consumption in patients undergoing gynecologic surgery.
The Finneran Family Prize
John Heymach, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology
Bill Finneran, a prostate cancer survivor and longtime MD Anderson BOV member, established the $50,000 cash prize in 2013 to honor leading faculty members in translational cancer research. The Finneran Family Prize recognizes the extraordinary achievements of MD Anderson faculty as well as their passion and continued efforts to provide hope to cancer patients all over the world.
Heymach has made significant advances in treating lung cancer, including identifying key targetable pathways in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutant non-small cell lung cancer and a novel therapy for tumors with EGFR and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) exon 20 mutations. His research also has made significant contributions to understanding the KRAS oncogene, a common driver of solid tumor growth, and defined three subsets of KRAS-mutant lung cancer with different concurrent genomic alterations and different therapeutic options.
The Shirley Stein Scientific Endowed Research Award
Gautam Borthakur, M.D., professor, leukemia
Kanishka Sircar, M.D., professor, pathology
MD Anderson BOV members Gary W. Stein, on behalf of Triple-S Steel/The Stein Family, and Regina Rogers created the cancer research award in 2014 in loving memory of Shirley Stein, who was Gary's mother and Regina's dear friend. The Stein Award supports exceptional clinical cancer research among MD Anderson faculty despite limited project resources.
Borthakur's research focuses on translational and clinical development of drugs targeting newer epigenetic targets in acute leukemias and myelodysplastic syndrome.
Sircar's research focuses on genitourinary disease and includes collaborating with physicians and scientists to focus on risk categorization for kidney cancer tumors. He aims to develop molecular diagnostic assays that can provide risk assessment despite mixed pathologic appearance.