News Release

PHILADELPHIA — This December marks the 40th anniversary of the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) of the University of Pennsylvania being designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.  To celebrate this momentous milestone, over 400 people gathered together early this month for an event recognizing the center’s vast achievements in cancer research, patient care, and education during the last four decades.

Leaders from the ACC, including its director Chi V. Dang, MD, PhD, also bestowed Bert Vogelstein, MD, a world-renowned geneticist from The Johns Hopkins University and a University of Pennsylvania alumnus, with the inaugural Abramson Award. The award recognizes key achievements made by the world's most innovative contributors in the field of oncology -- those whose work has changed the paradigm of modern cancer research and clinical care.

Dr. Vogelstein’s pioneering studies of the genetic causes of human cancer have placed him among the most influential biomedical scientists in the world, and his work has helped provide the conceptual basis for what is now called "personalized medicine.”  He and his team were the first to map cancer genomes and use genome-wide sequencing to identify the basis of a hereditary form of cancer.  

Dr. Vogelstein and his colleagues have demonstrated that colorectal tumors result from the gradual accumulation of genetic alterations in specific oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. A recent recipient of the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, his work on colorectal cancers forms the foundation for much of modern cancer research, with profound implications for diagnostic and therapeutic strategies in the future.

The celebratory evening also included remarks from Penn Medicine leaders J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the Health System and Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine, and Ralph W. Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and Daniel J. Keating, III, Chair of the ACC Director's Leadership Council, who shared his personal cancer journey and the stories of a several remarkable cancer patients and survivors.

Endowed professorships are the highest honor a Perelman School of Medicine faculty member can achieve, and these important posts were highlighted throughout the evening. They are vital to the ACC’s mission to stay at the forefront of cancer research and care by attracting and supporting extraordinary minds, allowing them to explore new avenues of discovery treatment, and cures. Click here for a full listing of endowed professors and the generous donors who support them.

Numerous other awards and honors were given to recognize the ACC’s most promising investigators, compassionate clinicians, and distinguished teachers.  Click here for a full list of honorees.

Click below to watch a video portraying the story of the Abramson Cancer Center over the past 40 years.

Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $5.3 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 18 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $373 million awarded in the 2015 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System's patient care facilities include: The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center -- which are recognized as one of the nation's top "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S. News & World Report -- Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Wissahickon Hospice; and Pennsylvania Hospital -- the nation's first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional affiliated inpatient care facilities and services throughout the Philadelphia region include Chestnut Hill Hospital and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, a partnership between Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and Penn Medicine.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2015, Penn Medicine provided $253.3 million to benefit our community.

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