David M. Gershenson, M.D., has been given the Award of Excellence of the International Gynecology Cancer Society, as a recognition of his clinical, organizational, and scientific achievements regarding gynecologic oncology. The professor and former chair of the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center was presented with the award during a ceremony at the IGCS’s 15th Biennial Meeting in Melbourne, Australia.
IGCS, which is a not-for-profit independent organization, attributes the excellence awards in line with its mission of improving prevention, treatment, and research into gynecologic cancer, in addition to improving the quality of life of patients worldwide. In addition to Gershenson, the organization also recognized the work of William J. Hoskins, MD from Memorial Sloan Kettering.
“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,” wrote the IGCS in a press release. “Through his generosity, countless patients beyond MD Anderson have benefited from his wisdom and unique breadth of experience.”
With a career that already includes more than 35 years of experience and several major professional achievements, Gershenson says that what he believes is currently the most important part of his work is to be able to usher in the next generation of gynecologic oncologists in order to guide and help them make a difference in patients’ lives.
“I am truly honored by this award, but it’s really a tribute to all the support I have received during my career from family, friends and both senior and junior colleagues,” said the oncologist. “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.”
The physician first started working at MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1979, and served as department chair from 1998 – 2012. Gershenson’s most remarkable work was on rare ovarian tumors, to which he dedicated both clinical and translational research. He led several studies focused on low-grade serous tumors, clear cell carcinomas, mucinous carcinomas, malignant ovarian germ cell tumors, and sex cord-stromal ovarian tumors, in collaboration with other colleagues at MD Anderson.
Gershenson was a pioneer in explaining the chemo-resistance of low-grade serous carcinomas, and developed clinical trials to test several novel therapeutics for the treatment of rare ovarian cancers. In 1999, he was appointed Co-Principal Investigator of MD Anderson’s NCI-funded SPORE in Ovarian Cancer and, and recently served as co-leader of the project “Personalized Therapy for Women with Low-Grade Serous Carcinoma of the Ovary.” In addition to helping advance the field, the researcher believes that it is currently much more evidenced-based than when he started working 35 years ago.
“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,” he said. “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.”
In addition to the research he has led and participated in, Gershson has been an active member of several national and international organizations, including the NRG Oncology, serving as chair of the Rare Tumor Committee; and co-chair of the NCI’s Gynecologic Cancer Steering Committee, serving as chairman of the Foundation for Women’s Cancer. He is also editor emeritus of the Gynecologic Oncology journal, and director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.