Life Raft Group Awards Honorees
Life Fest 2010: A Decade of Difference
(To view information about past Life Fests, click here)
The Humanitarian of the Decade Awards
Dr. Daniel Vasella
Dr. George Demetri
Allan Tobes Volunteer of the Year Award
NEW! Clinician of the Year Award
Dr. Jonathan Trent
Views pictures and information about these honorees here.
NEW! GIST Hall of Fame
Dr. J. Aidan Carney
The Gleevec Trial Doctors:
To view pictures and information about the GIST Hall of Fame honorees, click here.
Life Raft Group Awards Honorees
Life Fest 2008
The Humanitarian of the Year Award
The Allan Tobes Volunteer(s!) of the Year Award
Steve Rigg & Dick Kinzig
Kendra Tobes presents Allan Tobes Volunteer Awards to Steve Rigg and Dick Kinzig
Life Raft Group Awards Honorees
Life Fest 2006
The Volunteer of the Year Award
LRG Newsletter Editor Emeritus
Richard Palmer is the former newsletter editor of the Life Raft Group; in the June 2006 issue, he bid a fond farewell to this position. Richard was one of the founding members of the LRG back in 2000 and has helped it grow all these years. He has contributed numerous articles to the newsletter and great advice on the listserv. Richard has been an observer, a peacemaker and friend to so many people in the GIST community.
In 2002, Richard met Dr. Daniel Vasella, CEO of Novartis, who was accepting the Humanitarian of the Year award; four years later Dr. Vasella is back, delivering the keynote address and Richard is accepting the award: Volunteer of the Year.
The Researcher of the Year Award
Jonathan Fletcher, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pathology and Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Dr. Fletcher is a medical and pediatric oncologist whose clinical activities are in cancer diagnostics, with a focus on molecular and cytogenetic methods. His laboratory program is studying tyrosine kinase (such as KIT and PDGFRA) mechanisms in sarcomas. He has developed novel methods for rapid profiling of tyrosine kinase activation in frozen human tumors, and these techniques have identified effective therapeutic targets in several types of sarcomas, including GIST. His primary research aims are to identify therapeutic strategies that can synergize with KIT inhibition to cure GIST.
Fletcher received his medical degree from Boston University in 1981. He went on to do his internship and residency at the University Hospital in Boston. In 1984 he became their chief resident in medicine. In 1986, Fletcher moved on to become a clinical and research fellow of pediatric and adult oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Children's Hospital. Fletcher became a research fellow in pathology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in 1988, where he remains today.
In addition to his experience in clinical oncology, he has developed diagnostic methods to detect DNA and chromosome aberrations in GISTs and other sarcomas. He oversees a clinical lab service in which chromosome abnormalities are analyzed to determine the correct diagnosis and prognosis for each patient.
He has been a vital member of the research team that is leading the way to overcome Gleevec-resistant GIST. He and his team will be giving an initial progress report at this meeting. He will also be a part of the expert panel.
Life Raft Group Awards Honorees
Life Fest 2004
Laurence H. Baker, M.D.
Laurence H. Baker, M.D., joined the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center as deputy director and associate director for clinical research in 1994. An active clinician as well as professor of internal medicine, Dr. Baker specializes in the treatment of sarcomas. His research focuses on the causes of sarcomas and the development of new drugs for treating sarcomas and other common cancers. In addition, Dr. Baker currently serves as chairman-elect for the Southwest Oncology Group. After receiving his medical degree at the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery at Des Moines, Iowa. Dr. Baker completed his oncology fellowship at Wayne State University and remained 22 years, serving as director of the Meyer L. Prentis Comprehensive Cancer Center from 1988 to 1994.
Robert S. Benjamin, M.D.
Robert S. Benjamin, M.D., is a professor and chairman for the Department of Sarcoma Medical Oncology and medical director of the Sarcoma Center at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Dr. Benjamin received his M.D. from New York University in 1968. He continued his internship and residency with NYU Bellevue Medical Center, New York. He went on to complete his fellowship at NCI Baltimore Cancer Research Center, Maryland.
Dr. Benjamin is a veteran sarcoma specialist with over 30 years of hands-on experience. His mass of in-depth historical knowledge, combined with his creativity, enables him to think outside of the box and re-evaluate long established ideas. He devotes much of his attention to teaching and oncology research. He has written numerous articles on medical oncology topics and has presented at meetings that draw some of the most highly regarded experts in cancer care.
George D. Demetri, MD
George D. Demetri, M.D., was one of the pioneer trial investigators for Gleevec. Dr. Demetri received his M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine in 1983, followed by an internal medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Washington Hospitals, Seattle. He then completed his Fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, where he has served as an attending physician since 1989. He is an associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Demetri is also founding editor of sarcoma.net, a web resource that provides sarcoma-specific information and consultations to non-sarcoma-specialist health care providers. Dr. Demetri’s research and clinical interests have focused on novel investigational strategies for the management of solid tumors, with a particular emphasis in sarcomas.
Brian Druker, M.D.
Brian Druker, M.D., is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Institute and JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) Cancer Institute.
Upon graduating from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in 1981, Dr. Druker completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital, Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. He then trained in oncology at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Upon completion of his clinical training, he returned to the lab to begin his research career studying the regulation of the growth of cancer cells and the practical application to cancer therapies. His work was instrumental in the development of STI571, since known as Gleevec, a revolutionary molecularly targeted cancer therapy in pill form. Dr. Druker spearheaded the clinical trials of STI571 for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) that resulted in the fastest FDA approval of an anticancer therapy in history. His role in the development of STI571 and application in the clinic have resulted in numerous awards for Dr. Druker, including the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award, the John J. Kenney Award from The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Warren Alpert Prize from Harvard Medical School, the American Society of Hematology's Dameshek Prize, the Lance Armstrong Foundation's Pioneer of Survivorship Carpe Diem Award, the American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor, the Kettering Prize from General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, the David A. Karnofsky Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Braunschweig Preis.
Barbara Kennedy, Novartis Oncology
Barbara Kennedy is the Executive Director of Oncology Scientific Operations for Novartis Oncology. Barbara joined Novartis in 1997 after spending many years with Johnson and Johnson. While at J & J, she held positions of increasing responsibility which led to her focus as a worldwide director of clinical development/medical affairs. Just prior to joining Novartis, Barbara was Vice President, Clinical Development Operations for a biotech company associated with MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Her focus within Novartis includes the responsibility for the interactions with Patient Advocacy and Support groups in the oncology community. She stated that this is among the most rewarding endeavors she has experienced. She is also responsible for the group of scientists, located throughout the US, who focus on interactions with health care professionals. This responsibility spans clinical trial awareness activities, interactions with major thought leaders that drive the practice of oncology medicine, presentation of the latest emerging data to individuals that decide the treatment approach within their institution and interactions with key decision makers within the Medicare and insurance arenas.
She is vice president of the board of Cancer Care NJ. Barbara attended Seton Hall University where she majored in biology and then completed her MBA in International Business at Rutgers University. Barbara resides in New Jersey with her husband of 24 years.
Allan T. van Oosterom, M.D.
Allan T. van Oosterom, M.D., studied medicine and internal medicine at the University of Leiden Medical School in the Netherlands. He did his training in medical oncology in Leiden and at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. In 1978, he worked at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK, and spent a brief period training at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD. He was Professor of Oncology at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, from 1986 to 1996, and since then has been Professor of Oncology and Chairman of the Department of Oncology at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.
Dr. van Oosterom was the recent president of EORTC (European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer) as well as FECS (Federation of European Cancer Societies) and BSMO (Belgian Society of Medical Oncology). Dr. van Oosterom has co-edited nine books and co-authored over 500 peer-reviewed articles.
Margaret von Mehren, M.D.
Margaret von Mehren, M.D., has been a medical oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center since 1996. She is also an associate professor of medicine at Temple University. Her clinical interests include sarcomas, breast cancer and immunotherapy. She is an attending physician for the breast cancer service and sarcoma service at Fox Chase. She tests new chemotherapy drugs for soft-tissue sarcomas and also is developing vaccine therapies for cancer. She was also one of the first trial investigators for Gleevec.
Dr. von Mehren received her M.D. from Albany Medical College in 1989. During her final year of medical school, she received the Lamb Foundation Prize awarded to the student most nearly achieving “the ideal in doctor-patient relationships.” She also earned the Kenneth B. Olsen Prize for the fourth-year medical student most likely to succeed in clinical oncology.
She completed her internship and residency in internal medicine at New York University Medical Center. She then held a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center from 1993 to 1996. Board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, Dr. von Mehren has published a number of research papers and is active in the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Association of Cancer Research.
Dr. von Mehren and her husband recently became proud parents to a beautiful baby boy.
James D. Watson, Ph.D.
James Watson, Ph.D., was only 25 years old when he and his older colleague, Francis Crick, discovered the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the building block of all life on Earth. Modern biology, and the biotechnology industry it has spawned, would be unthinkable if these two had not determined the structure of the DNA molecule. Their model of this structure -- the double helix -- has become a universal symbol of the scientific profession, and the title of Watson's 1968 best-seller.
Watson and Crick won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1962, but this was not the end of Watson's career in the public eye. Through his many books and from lecterns at Cal Tech and Harvard, Watson has charged into the heart of scientific controversies. At the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory he has continued to lead the way in genetic research. From 1988 to 1992 James Watson served as the first Director of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health, a massive project to decipher the entire genetic code of the human species. He is now President of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
(*Excerpt taken from The Academy of Achievement Museum of Living History Profile)