Massey Director Gordon Ginder honored for his 22 years of leadership at the cancer center
Hundreds gathered on September 5 for a research symposium to honor Gordon Ginder, M.D., and his two-plus decades of leadership at VCU Massey Cancer Center. The event, held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Richmond, featured personal reflections from Ginder’s colleagues and highlights of the scientific achievements made at Massey under his tenure.
Ginder has served as director of Massey since 1997. After stepping down as cancer center director for the last 22 years, he will remain at Massey and continue contributing to research, patient care and teaching. A physician-scientist, Ginder specializes in treating blood and lymph node cancers, and his research focuses on epigenetics and the regulation of genes in cancer and blood diseases.
Welcoming remarks at the symposium were provided by Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU and VCU Health System; Marsha Rappley, M.D., CEO of VCU Health System and vice president of VCU Health Services.
Steven Grossman, M.D., Ph.D., deputy director of Massey and Dianne Nunnally Hoppes Chair in Cancer Research, shared key accomplishments made at Massey in the last two decades under Ginder’s leadership. “Ginder leaves a lasting legacy that has impacted countless lives within and beyond Virginia,” said Grossman. He also noted that under Ginder’s leadership, Massey has grown substantially, building its scientific base and output fueled by a fourfold increase in extramural, philanthropic and state funding for life-saving cancer research. He underscored that Ginder successfully led five highly competitive renewals for Massey’s NCI designation and strengthened multidisciplinary care, and that critical, state-of-the-art spaces for cancer research, training and care were developed across the university and health system, including the addition of Goodwin Research Laboratory, the first building at VCU dedicated solely to cancer research.
A variety of presentations shed light on key scientific advancements made at Massey against blood and breast cancers. Steven Grant, M.D., Shirley Carter Olsson and Sture Gordon Olsson Chair in Oncology Research and associate director for translational research at Massey, highlighted his world-renown work in combining existing and experimental targeted drugs that synergize to kill cancer cells by blocking their ability to escape the lethal effects of interrupting a single survival pathway. Amir Toor, M.D., member of the Developmental Therapeutics research program at Massey, presented on his development of mathematical models as novel tools in the field of immunology and to improve stem cell transplant outcomes. Harry Bear, M.D., Ph.D., Walter Lawrence, Jr. Distinguished Professor in Oncology and member of the Developmental Therapeutics research program at Massey, detailed his pioneering work over the last two decades in the development of neoadjuvant therapy and immunotherapy for breast cancer. Douglas Arthur, M.D., Florence and Hyman Meyers Endowed Chair in Radiation Oncology and associate director for clinical affairs at Massey, presented on advancements made in accelerated partial breast irradiation through national clinical trials that he helped to develop and lead.
Keynote presentations were delivered by Timothy Ley, M.D., from the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University about the role of hemoglobin in hematologic cancers and Harold Burstein, M.D., Ph.D., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School on 20 years of clinical progress in developing tailored approaches to early-stage breast cancer.
The program was interspersed with personal reflections and memories of Ginder from his friends and colleagues, including Richard Moran, Ph.D., emeritus researcher and leader at Massey; John McCarty, M.D., director of the Cellular Immunotherapies and Transplant program and member of the Developmental Therapeutics research program at Massey; Charles Geyer, Jr., M.D., Harrigan, Haw, Luck Families Chair in Cancer Research and associate director for clinical research at Massey; Charles Clevenger, M.D., Ph.D., Carolyn Wingate Hyde Chair and member of the Cancer Cell Signaling program at Massey; John Roberts, M.D., former Massey researcher and leader and now professor at Yale Medicine; and Linda Burns, M.D., vice president and medical director of the Medical Services Department at the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match.
A video tribute (shown below) featuring Ginder’s current and former colleagues, mentees and patients led to a standing ovation from the crowd.
The symposium concluded with heartfelt remarks from Rappley and Peter Buckley, M.D., dean of VCU School of Medicine and VCU Health executive vice president for medical affairs. With the grace and humility that has defined his leadership, Ginder thanked everyone for coming and credited all that was accomplished at Massey under his tenure to the colleagues with whom he served.