Kemi Doll, MD, Aaron Falchook, MD, and Benjamin Vincent, MD, were honored as the recipients of the 2015 Pope Clinical Fellows Awards.
Three physician-scientists in training at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine have been honored for excellence in cancer-related research and in the practice of medical oncology.
Kemi Doll, MD, Aaron Falchook, MD, and Benjamin Vincent, MD, were honored on Tuesday as the 2015 Pope Clinical Fellows Award recipients. The awards are given annually to recognize excellence, and to promote the careers of emerging physician-researchers at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. The recipients will each receive a $5,000 award, which is made possible by a gift from The John William Pope Foundation.
“These awards recognize the work of three of our talented physician-researchers, who are both treating patients at the N.C. Cancer Hospital and also helping to make research discoveries,” said Norman Sharpless, MD, director of UNC Lineberger and the Wellcome Distinguished Professor in Cancer Research. “They are helping to make a difference in the lives of people in North Carolina.”
The three recipients were chosen from a pool of competitive candidates nominated by UNC Lineberger members, said Anne Menkens, PhD, UNC Lineberger assistant director of collaborative research. A committee of N.C. Cancer Hospital division leaders review the nominees and make a recommendation to UNC Lineberger leaders, who make the final decision.
Doll is a fellow in the Division of Gynecologic Oncology who’s also pursuing her master’s degree in clinical research in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Department of Epidemiology. She has first-authored nine publications during her fellowship. In one published study of outcomes among elderly, low-income women on Medicare with gynecologic cancers in North Carolina, she found that Medicaid enrollment timing had a measurable impact on patient mortality, particularly for uterine and cervical cancer. Both cancers have better outcomes when caught at earlier stages, suggesting that insurance eligibility could play a role in women being able to seek care when their cancer is most treatable.
“Dr. Doll is someone who I would love to have on my faculty, and she is truly the elusive triple threat of good clinician, technically gifted surgeon and blossoming independent investigator,” said Paola A. Gehrig, MD, a UNC Lineberger member, a professor and the director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology.
Falchook is chief resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology. In addition to his clinical practice, he has also been academically productive – serving as the first author of seven research publications to date, presenting research at national oncology conferences, having received multiple abstract awards at American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) meetings, and serving as co-investigator of several research grants. His research projects have studied prostate, breast, salivary gland, and rectal cancers.
“This is an incredible amount of productivity that I have not previously seen in a trainee,” said Ronald Chen, MD, MPH, a UNC Lineberger member and associate professor in the UNC School of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology. “Clinically, (Dr. Falchook) is an outstanding physician who is very highly regarded in our department. He is dedicated to his patients and has demonstrated excellent organizational and leadership skills as chief resident.”
Vincent is a fellow in the Division of Hematology/Oncology who studies tumor immunology and immunotherapy researcher in the lab of Jon Serody, MD, Elizabeth Thomas Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology and associate director of translational sciences at UNC Lineberger. In the lab, Vincent has led an effort to shift toward sequencing, bioinformatics and big data approaches to studying the immune system’s response to cancer. He was first author of a paper published in Clinical Cancer Research in which he uncovered a critical role for immune cells called B-cells in the outcome of patients with two types of breast cancer.
Serody also highlighted Vincent’s work in the clinic.
“Finally, in addition to becoming an outstanding scientist, Ben is a wonderful, compassionate and insightful clinical physician,” Serody said.
Press Release issued by UNC Linebarger Comprehensive Cancer Center: https://unclineberger.org/news/pope-awards-2015
Nearly $1.7 million given primarily to North Carolina causes
RALEIGH — The John William Pope Foundation recently completed its December board meeting, awarding $1,692,500 to schools, churches, arts organizations, and community groups in its winter grant cycle.
The winter grants went primarily to organizations serving the Triangle area and Vance County. With the addition of these new grants, the Pope Foundation’s total giving for 2014 has exceeded $7.69 million.
“The old ‘give a man a fish’ parable is that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but that if you teach a man how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime,” said Art Pope, chairman of the Pope Foundation. “We believe in doing both. Our December grants provide direct humanitarian assistance to those most in need-for food, shelter, and health care. Our December grants also support education, the arts, and religion. These Pope Foundation grants will help enrich all aspects of the lives of the people of North Carolina.”
Substantial grants were awarded to White Memorial Presbyterian Church of Raleigh and Transitions LifeCare (formerly Hospice of Wake County) in honor of the late Joyce Wilkins Pope, who passed away in May. Joyce W. Pope served as the Pope Foundation’s president from its founding in 1986 until 1992, and was the wife of the late John William Pope, founder of the Pope Foundation and longtime president of Variety Wholesalers.
Joyce L. Pope is vice president of the foundation and granddaughter of Joyce W. and John William Pope. “My grandparents cared deeply about the well being of people, and in particular my grandmother loved the arts,” she said. “We miss them dearly, but to be able to honor organizations in which they were deeply vested is rewarding. They would be so pleased to know how many more people will benefit from the care and services of these grantees.”
A full list of December grant awards can be found below. The Foundation’s philanthropic vision is rooted in meeting real human needs, both in the short-term, through humanitarian aid, and in the long-term, through liberty-oriented organizations that foster a freer, more prosperous society so that individuals have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their loved ones. For more information about the Pope Foundation and its grants, please visit www.jwpf.org.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The John William Pope Foundation has made a $1.3 million gift to UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center to fund cancer research and treatment.
As one of the leading cancer centers in the United States, UNC Lineberger brings together some of the most exceptional physicians and scientists in the country to investigate and improve the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer.
One million dollars of the Pope Foundation’s gift will fund the creation of the John William Pope Distinguished Professorship in Cancer Research and $300,000 will fund the John William Pope Clinical Fellows Awards Program.
“An endowed professorship is one of the highest academic honors that a university can provide its faculty, allowing them to propel their research, ignite collaborations and support mentorship,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “We are extremely grateful to the John William Pope Foundation for allowing us to bestow this honor to our faculty.”
“My father was passionate about giving to both cancer treatment and research, and that’s exactly what these gifts do,” said Art Pope, Chairman and President of the John William Pope Foundation. “He was very clear that he wanted any investment we made to stay in North Carolina. These are the kind of projects he would have wanted.”
The gift was recently presented at the UNC Lineberger Board of Visitors meeting on April 11, 2014.
“We are honored to receive this generous gift from the John William Pope Foundation,” said William Roper, dean of the UNC School of Medicine, vice chancellor for medical affairs, and chief executive officer of the University of North Carolina Health Care System. “Private funds to support both established faculty and junior researchers are critical as we develop the best and brightest physicians. With this gift, we will continue conducting groundbreaking cancer research and delivering outstanding cancer care in North Carolina.”
UNC Lineberger will nominate Thomas Shea to be the first recipient of the John William Pope Distinguished Professorship. Appropriately, Shea was one of the late John William Pope’s physicians when he was treated for cancer in 2006 and is an international leader in the care of patients with hematologic malignancies. Shea is the director of the UNC Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation Program and UNC Lineberger associate director of clinical outreach.
“I am humbled that the Pope family chose to make such a significant gift in my honor and pleased to be considered as the first recipient,” Shea said. “With this new professorship, I hope to expand our research surrounding hematologic malignancies and lay the foundation for continued excellence in our transplant and blood cancer initiatives.”
The John William Pope Clinical Fellow Awards Program will support annual awards to three outstanding clinical fellows, judged by the faculty on the basis of their extraordinary clinical or translational cancer research during their post-graduate clinical training.
“We wanted to make sure that while we were investing in an established investigator, we were also investing in young investigators,” said Joyce L. Pope, vice president of the John William Pope Foundation.
“This is a seed investment,” said Norman Sharpless, director of UNC Lineberger. “These will be the next great physician-scientists studying cancer, and this program allows us to recognize and foster these talented young people who represent the future of cancer research.”
For more about the John William Pope Foundation visit www.jwpf.org.
The Pope Foundation’s new Achiever Spotlight tells the story of Guillermo Peña Panting, a native of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, widely considered the most dangerous place on Earth outside of a war zone:
What would convince a talented, promising young man to forsake a life of ease in the United States and Europe and return to his home country — a country that’s currently considered the murder capital of the world?
For Guillermo Peña Panting, the answer is simple: freedom.
Gullermo’s home country of Honduras is enduring a season of drug-induced crime. With a murder ratio hovering around 86 homicides per 100,000 in population, Honduras typically tops charts of the most dangerous countries in the world.
And Guillermo’s hometown, San Pedro Sula, is widely regarded as one of the most perilous locales outside of a war zone.
Gang warfare and the drug trade have destabilized the country, particularly following a coup in 2009 that deposed the Honduran president. The country is a major drug transit from South America to the U.S.
But while thousands were fleeing the country, Guillermo saw nothing but opportunity. He decided to move back, bringing his passion for free markets, the rule of law, and individual responsibility with him.
“There is so much more I can do in Honduras than I could ever do elsewhere,” he said.
Read more Achiever Spotlights here.
The Pope Foundation’s new Liberty Leader focuses on Baker Mitchell, a retired businessman who now devotes his life to helping kids in coastal North Carolina get an excellent education:
A tale of two schools.
That’s what prompted Baker Mitchell to embark on a journey to bring more education options to families in coastal North Carolina.
The story began in the early 1990s, when Baker lived in Houston, Texas, with his family. He had recently sold his computer company and was looking for a new pursuit to spice up retirement. Baker decided to use his affinity for science to volunteer as a teacher in elementary schools.
“At the time, Barbara Bush Elementary School in the suburbs of Houston was the big deal,” Baker said. “It was a brand new school with all the gadgets, using all the new education fads, with all the wealthy students. But their scores were terrible. I began to ask why.”
Soon, Baker got an answer. A friend suggested that he volunteer at Wesley Elementary in north Houston. In contrast to Barbara Bush Elementary, Wesley’s roll comprised almost entirely African-American students enrolled in the free and reduced-price lunch program.
“I pulled into the school’s parking lot and immediately noticed a 6-foot barbed wire fence around the school,” Baker recalls. “It was in a rough area of town.”
“Yet each student was well behaved and advanced educationally,” he added. “In the 4th grade, they were reading and studying Shakespeare. Kids weren’t allowed to use calculators. They had to learn phonics and memorize their multiplication and division tables.”
Read more Liberty Leaders here.