Volume 3, Issue 11
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Pages 1039 - 1044http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/cbt.3.11.1320
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The University of Texas Board of Regents has appointed a renowned epidemiologist at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center to a prestigious Distinguished University Chair, only the third such chair awarded at M. D. Anderson.
The first woman in The University of Texas System to receive this distinction, Margaret R. Spitz, M.D., chair of the Department of Epidemiology, was honored with the Olga Keith Wiess Distinguished University Chair for Cancer Research, which carries a $2.3 million endowment.
The Distinguished University Chair is the highest level of endowed position within the UT System.
Spitz is a nationally recognized epidemiologist and expert on tobacco-related cancers. Her research has focused on reducing overall risk for lung cancer, a disease that remains the leading cancer killer in women and men in the United States.
"I am truly honored to receive this award, and am especially grateful for this opportunity to expand our epidemiological research programs," Spitz says.
Spitz has held the Olga Keith Wiess Chair for Cancer Research at M. D. Anderson since 1998, with the award upgraded to Distinguished Chair in 2003 and now to Distinguished University Chair.
"Dr. Spitz' contributions throughout her career have had a significant impact on cancer prevention research," says Bernard Levin, M.D., M. D. Anderson's vice president for cancer prevention and population sciences. "She has made remarkable advances in the field of molecular and genetic epidemiology that have greatly enhanced our existing knowledge."
Her research has contributed to a better understanding of susceptibility to various types of cancer and response to therapy, with the long-term goals of identifying high-risk subgroups who can benefit from intensive cancer screening, creating genetic profiles for use in individualizing therapy and understanding the functional consequences of chemoprevention, chemotherapy or radiotherapy response.
Spitz' current research includes:
* Finding more predictive genetic markers for lung cancer risk in smokers and those who have never smoked
* Evaluating genetic markers of nicotine addiction
* Developing new functional assays of DNA repair capacity to help predict lung cancer risk in current and former smokers
* Identifying molecular predictors of response to therapy, toxicity and patient survival
* Developing quantitative methods for accurate risk classification, using combinations of risk factors and genetic variations
While at M. D. Anderson, Spitz has received multiple awards, including the Julie and Ben Rogers Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention, the Mesa Petroleum Company Professorship in Cancer Prevention, the Faculty Achievement Award in Cancer Prevention and the Texas Business and Professional Women Award.
Additional honors include the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Society of Preventive Oncology, the Award for Research Excellence in Epidemiology or Prevention from the American Association of Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society, the Rosalind Franklin Science Award for Women in Science from the National Cancer Institute and the Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor Award from the Flight Attendants Medical Research Institute.
Spitz joined M. D. Anderson in 1981, becoming the first permanent chair of the Department of Epidemiology in May 1995. She earned her medical degree from the University of Witwatersrand Medical School in Johannesburg, South Africa, and her master's of public health degree from The University of Texas School of Public Health, where she currently holds an academic appointment, as well as at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.