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ASCO honors M. D. Anderson Cancer Prevention head

June 04, 2004

NEW ORLEANS - The vice president for cancer prevention at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has been honored with the 2004 American Cancer Society Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Bernard Levin, M.D., is the 12th recipient of the honor that began in 1993 to recognize leaders in oncology who have made significant contributions throughout their careers to preventing and managing cancer.

Levin, a colorectal cancer expert, will receive the award at ASCO's annual meeting, where he will deliver an acceptance lecture titled, "Prevention of Colorectal Neoplasia: Biology, Targeted Interventions, Politics and Hope" on June 6.

For nearly three decades, Levin has furthered the science and application of cancer prevention through developing and implementing multidisciplinary programs in research, service and education, beginning when there was little scientific data or support for the notion that cancer could be prevented.

M. D. Anderson was among the first institutions to launch a broad, multifaceted cancer prevention program, and today - 10 years later - the Division of Cancer Prevention serves as a model for other prevention programs throughout the nation.

Levin's leadership of many collaborative research projects has resulted in identification of lifestyle factors, genetic predispositions and molecular events contributing to cancer development. As a gastrointestinal oncologist, Levin has contributed to unraveling the biochemical and genetic predeterminants of gastrointestinal cancers, as well as identification of new screening and treatment methods.

Cancer prevention researchers are advancing knowledge of disease processes, human behavior, clinical applications and community education, working to identify mechanisms of cancer prevention and then influencing individual behavior about appropriate choices to prevent disease. In addition, faculty train health care professionals, nationally and internationally, in delivery and application of prevention services.

Currently, M. D. Anderson prevention research includes:
  • Chemoprevention research for several disease sites, including lung, colon/rectum, cervix, bladder, prostate, breast, skin and esophagus

  • Human behavior related to tobacco, sun exposure, cancer screening practices, clinical trial participation and quality of life

  • Gene-environment interactions in cancer etiology, using advanced molecular and genetic techniques to explore changes at the level of a single cell - where the first changes toward cancer occur.

Levin's leadership positions include serving as co-chair of the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Progress Review Group on Colorectal Cancer; chair, American Cancer Society's (ACS) National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable; co-chair, Digestive Health Initiative's Colorectal Cancer Campaign of the American Digestive Health Foundation; World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Colorectal Cancer; Medical Advisory Board, National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance; chair, Detection and Treatment Advisory Group on Colorectal Cancer, ACS; and Advisory Board Member, Cancer Research Foundation of America.

Before assuming his role in cancer prevention, Levin served as chairman of M. D. Anderson's Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and Digestive Diseases. He earned his medical degree from the University of Witwatersrand Medical School in Johannesburg, South Africa, and completed his surgical and medical internships there. He moved to Chicago for an internal medicine residency and then completed fellowships in biochemistry/pathology and gastroenterology at the University of Chicago. He held academic appointments at the University of Chicago from 1971 until 1984, when he joined the faculty at M. D. Anderson to develop a multidisciplinary gastrointestinal cancer program.

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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