Friday, May 24, 2013

Getz, Raje honored with endowed chairs in oncology


TRULY AN HONOR: Above, from left, David N. Louis, MD, chief of Pathology; Karen Zamecnik Pierson, Zamecnik’s daughter; Getz; David P. Ryan, MD, chief of Hematology/Oncology; and Haber


The MGH honored two staff members this month as inaugural recipients of endowed chairs in oncology, both made possible thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor. “The importance of endowed chairs is significant. They are intended for prominent members of the faculty and are truly an honor. But the benefits for the incumbent, the hospital and the advancement of medicine extend beyond the honorific,” says MGH President Peter L. Slavin, MD. “An endowed chair gives the incumbent the flexibility to pursue his or her research when financial resources for innovative medical investigation are limited.”

Gad Getz, PhD, director of Bioinformatics at the Mass General Cancer Center and the Department of Pathology, is the first incumbent of the Paul C. Zamecnik, MD, Chair in Oncology. Zamecnik, who was a renowned senior scientist in the MGH Department of Medicine, made several fundamental discoveries related to how and when the genetic code in DNA is translated into protein molecules during his more than 50 years at the MGH.

Getz was honored during a May 5 celebration at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation. “I am deeply honored to be appointed to the first Paul C. Zamecnik Chair in Oncology. Although I never met Dr. Zamecnik, his seminal work on tRNAs, antisense therapy and deep dedication to science are exemplary and I hope I can follow in his footsteps,” says Getz. “The field of computational biology, in particular cancer genomics, is revolutionizing our understanding of cancer, and I would like to help translate this knowledge to improve patient care.”

Daniel Haber, MD, director of the Mass General Cancer Center, noted, “This is a phenomenal time of creativity and discovery in cancer research – like never before – and this is the time when we want our faculty to carve out new areas of investigation and blaze new trails that will lead to better diagnosis and treatment for patients with cancer. Nowhere is this more evident than in computational biology, the area of research led by Dr. Getz.”

Noopur Raje, MD, director of the Center of Multiple Myeloma, was honored with the first Rita M. Kelley, MD,
Chair in Oncology, during a May 21 celebration at the museum. Kelley worked at the MGH for 38 years and was one of the hospital’s first women pioneers in medicine. She was an internationally known cancer specialist whose research was focused on the use of chemotherapy in treating breast cancer and the use of hormones to treat endometrial and other cancers.


From left, Haber, Raje and Katrina Armstrong, MD, chief of the Department of Medicine


“It is an incredible honor and very humbling to be named the first incumbent of the Rita Kelley Chair,” says Raje. “Dr. Kelley’s pioneering work in oncology coupled with her tremendous dedication to patient care will remain my inspiration and motivation to continue my research focused on improving treatment options for myeloma patients.”

During the ceremony, Slavin said, “Mass General is now more sophisticated in the areas of clinical research than in Dr. Kelley’s time. Progress in biomedical research has been rapid, thanks to the contributions of physician-researchers such as Dr. Noopur Raje. Dr. Raje has helped sustain and develop Dr. Kelley’s legacy.” 

Read more articles from the 05/24/13 Hotline issue.

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