MD Anderson's David M. Gershenson, M.D., receives award for excellence

November 10, 2014

Houston, Texas -- For his myriad clinical, organizational and scientific accomplishments in the field of gynecologic oncology and the health and well-being of women, David M. Gershenson, M.D. has been recognized with the International Gynecology Cancer Society's (IGCS) Award of Excellence.

Gershenson, professor and past chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, received the award at the IGCS's 15th Biennial Meeting in Melbourne, Australia. William J. Hoskins, MD., of Memorial Sloan Kettering, also was honored with the distinction.

The IGCS is a not-for-profit, independent organization contributing to the prevention, treatment and study of gynecologic cancer, as well as improvement in the quality of life among women suffering from such diseases throughout the world.

In recognizing Dr. Gershenson, the organization notes him as an exemplar in forwarding the scientific knowledge of gynecological cancers, and, more specifically, of the non-epithelial ovarian cancers.

"Dr. Gershenson's role in the diagnosis and clinical management of these tumors has been of the top level globally. Many around the world, who are also accomplished and knowledgeable in this area, consult him about issues related to the care of women with these tumors," says the IGCS in a press release. "Through his generosity, countless patients beyond MD Anderson have benefited from his wisdom and unique breadth of experience."

Gershenson joined the MD Anderson faculty in 1979 and served as the departments chair 1998-2012. He focuses both his clinical and translational research on rare ovarian tumors, and in collaboration with several colleagues at MD Anderson and beyond, conducts clinical and translational studies of: low-grade serous tumors, clear cell carcinomas, mucinous carcinomas, malignant ovarian germ cell tumors, and sex cord-stromal ovarian tumors. Among Gershenson's myriad clinical research achievements are advancing the field in the understanding that low-grade serous carcinomas are relatively chemo-resistant. In addition, he's played a major role in developing clinical trials focusing on novel therapeutics for patients with rare ovarian cancers. His research also has reported the poor prognosis associated with advanced stage or recurrent ovarian clear cell and mucinous carcinomas. Since 1999, Gershenson has served as Co-Principal Investigator of MD Anderson's NCI-funded SPORE in Ovarian Cancer and, more recently, as a co-project leader, "Personalized Therapy for Women with Low-Grade Serous Carcinoma of the Ovary."

Gershenson notes that the principles that guide the field's care in treating women with rare ovarian cancers is much more evidenced-based than when he first started in the field 35 years ago.

"Also, the revolution of our understanding of the molecular biology and genetics of the disease has really transformed the field and has led to dramatic opportunities in personalized medicine, both in terms of discovery and for the benefit of patients. With this understanding, over the last decade, we have transitioned from treating all ovarian cancers identically, to targeting specific cancer subtypes, and being able to offer personalized care for women with these rarest of disease."

Gershenson's expertise in the field expands far beyond MD Anderson, with leadership roles in numerous national and international organizations, including: the NCI-sponsored cooperative group--NRG Oncology, chair of the Rare Tumor Committee, and principal investigator of an international trial between the NRG and a research group in UK for women with recurrent low-grade serous carcinoma of the ovary; co-chair of the NCI's Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee, which approves all new phase III and randomized phase II clinical trials for gynecologic cancers in North America; chairman, Foundation for Women's Cancer, a national foundation of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, whose major missions include research grant funding and public education and awareness of gynecologic cancers; editor emeritus of the journal, Gynecologic Oncology, and a director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2006-2014.

Of all his accomplishments, Gershenson says he's most proud of ushering in the next generation of gynecologic oncologists to make a difference in the lives of patients.

"I am truly honored by this award, but it's really a tribute to all the support I have received during my career during from family, friends and both senior and junior colleagues," said Gershenson. "Being the chair of the Department allowed me to recruit and mentor a wonderful group of individuals committed to making a difference for women in greatest need. Our patients teach us humility, priorities and the importance of living life to the fullest. In return, it's vital that we offer them the very best possible care."

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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