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Cancer specialists honored for excellence in patient care and research

March 2016

Nearly 50 faculty members at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center were honored for their exceptional efforts in the fight against cancer at the institution’s 3rd Annual President’s Recognition for Faculty Excellence Awards ceremony recently. Among those honorees, four received prestigious awards established through the generosity of the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors (BOV).

Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Systems Biology; Ehab Hanna, M.D., professor, Head and Neck Surgery; Eugene Koay, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Radiation Oncology; and Jeannelyn S. Estrella, M.D., assistant professor, Pathology, each received a cash prize and commemorative plaque in recognition of their extraordinary efforts to transform cancer care. The awards were established in 2015 by the following BOV members: William Finneran (New York), Jack Randall (Houston), Regina Rogers (Beaumont) and Gary Stein (Houston).

The Finneran Family Prize in Translational Research

Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., chair, Systems Biology, is the 2016 recipient of the Finneran Family Prize in Translational Research. Mills holds several leadership positions across the institution, including co-director of the Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and co-leader of the Breast and Ovarian Cancers Moon Shot, a component of MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program, the institution’s comprehensive plan to rapidly and dramatically reduce mortality and suffering in cancer.

The Finneran Family Prize is a cash award given annually to a deserving faculty member through the Finneran Family Endowment in Translational Research at MD Anderson. It was established with a surprise gift presented at the institution’s Making Cancer History® Award Gala in Palm Beach, Florida in December 2013. The endowment honors leading faculty members who conduct translational cancer research, which translates laboratory findings into clinical treatments benefiting patients. BOV member Bill Finneran created the award to honor the extraordinary achievements of MD Anderson faculty.

The Jack and Beverly Randall Prize for Excellence in Cancer Treatment Ehab Hanna, M.D., professor and vice chair, Head and Neck Surgery, was awarded the 2016 Jack and Beverly Randall Prize for Excellence in Cancer Treatment. Hanna is an internationally recognized head and neck surgeon and an expert in treating patients with skull base tumors and head and neck cancers.

The Jack and Beverly Randall Prize was established by BOV member Jack Randall and his wife, Beverly, to encourage innovative ideas and the type of novel thinking necessary to successfully treat and eliminate cancer. The annual cash prize honors faculty members who demonstrate uncommon foresight, ingenuity and dedication to excellence in the fight against cancer, with the focus rotating annually between the research and clinical setting.

The Shirley Stein Scientific Endowed Research Award

Eugene Koay, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor, Radiation Oncology, and Jeannelyn S. Estrella, M.D., assistant professor, Pathology, are the 2016 recipients of the Shirley Stein Scientific Endowed Research Award. Koay’s research focuses on developing a new method of characterizing pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas using routine CT scans while Estrella’s focuses on developing novel biomarkers which will identify patients with metastatic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, who are more likely to progress and need intense, focused treatment through clinical trials.

Gary Stein, a member of the BOV, along with his family and longtime friend Regina Rogers, a long-serving member of the BOV, established the Shirley Stein Scientific Research Award in memory of Gary’s mother, Shirley Stein, who died in October 2013. Funds from the endowment will support two cash awards each year to recognize exceptional clinical research performed by faculty members with limited project resources.