Changing the Landscape of Ovarian Cancer Management: Distinguished Achievement Award Bestowed to Dr. Robert Ozols
|Dr. Robert Ozols said that his work on development of a chemotherapy regimen for ovarian cancer was a very rewarding part of his career.
At a private reception on Friday, ASCO honored a visionary in oncology who has been a pioneer in the development of the worldwide chemotherapy standard for treating ovarian cancer, as well as establishing a comprehensive laboratory-clinical approach to studying this form of cancer.
Robert Ozols, MD, PhD, chief clinical officer emeritus at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, received the 2012 Distinguished Achievement Award in recognition of his work on ovarian cancer, which changed the landscape for both researching and treating the disease.
This award salutes an individual who has proven to be an outstanding leader and mentor in science, practice, or research in any subspecialty of oncology, and whose efforts have benefi ted ASCO members or their patients.
Created in 2009, this award honors individuals who strive to treat patients with cancer and to train and mentor the next generation of oncologists.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this award,” Dr. Ozols said in an interview with ASCO Daily News. “I have had the privilege of working with great scientists and clinicians, both at the National Cancer Institute and Fox Chase Cancer Center. This award recognizes their contributions to improving outcomes for patients with ovarian cancer.”
One of the accomplishments for which Dr. Ozols is most proud is the work his team at the Fox Chase Cancer Center did in developing the carboplatin/paclitaxel chemotherapy regimen—the most effective regimen for treating ovarian cancer and now the standard against which all new regimens are compared.
“The most difficult challenge with ovarian cancer is that patients present with advanced disease because there are no good early diagnostic tools like there are for many other forms of cancer,” Dr. Ozols explained. “To work on developing a chemotherapy regimen when there hadn’t been one before was a very rewarding part of my career.”
Infrastructure Development for Successful Research
According to Dr. Ozols, there were few clinical trials and essentially no laboratory studies on human ovarian cancer when he fi rst began his research in the 1970s. “The development of model systems of human ovarian cancer coupled with rational clinical trials helped to transform the landscape,” he said.
Dr. Ozols added that today there are numerous laboratories working on the biology of ovarian cancer, leading to novel clinical trials of treatment and prevention. He is optimistic that this infrastructure will lead to even more effective therapies, which are still desperately needed.
Even early in his education, as Dr. Ozols pursued becoming a physician, he always wanted to complement it with research.
“I felt that cancer was a disease in which the laboratory was going to be essential in fi nding better treatments. Ovarian cancer,” he continued, “was a disease that could especially benefi t from a combined clinical and laboratory approach.”
The Role of ASCO
Dr. Ozols explained that ASCO has always played an important role in his career by providing a forum to discuss the most recent advances in cancer treatment. The Annual Meeting has been the place to present results and foster collaboration among the world’s leading physician–researchers.
Serving on ASCO’s Board of Directors from 2000 to 2003, as well as chairing several committees including the Cancer Research Committee from 2004 to 2005 and the Cancer Communications Committee from 2006 to 2007, Dr. Ozols has been active in ASCO for more than 3 decades. H e was a founding Board member of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society and served as its vice president in 2004. Dr. Ozols and Robert C. Young, MD, shared the society’s Award for Excellence in Gynecologic Oncology in 2010.
From 1984 to 1988, Dr. Ozols was head of the Experimental Therapeutics Section of the Medicine Branch at the National Cancer Institute. After that, he served as senior vice president of the Medical Sciences Division at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, from which he stepped down in 2009 to serve in an emeritus role.