Professor Stan Gerson receives medical school’s highest honor

Stan Gerson is an extraordinary leader. Under his direction and vision, more than 300 physicians and researchers have come together in the fight against cancer.

He is a brilliant scientist. His groundbreaking work has led to 12 patents, three companies and two renowned textbooks in his field.

And he is a compassionate healer. One of the thousands of patients whose lives he touched is 2012 Case Western Reserve graduate Anna Kennedy, whose treatment he personally managed after she was diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma two years ago.

For these and so many other reasons, Gerson is the 2012 recipient of the Case Western Reserve Medal for Excellence in Health Science Innovation.

In a ceremony Thursday evening, School of Medicine Dean Pamela B. Davis praised Gerson for his “clear vision and selfless commitment to advancing medical science,” describing him as a “triple threat” whose contributions have helped change the face of research, education and treatment within Northeast Ohio and across the country.

Gerson came to Case Western Reserve nearly three decades ago after earning undergraduate and medical degrees at Harvard University and pursuing additional training at the University of Pennsylvania. In the ensuing years, Gerson held nearly every potential leadership role relating to cancer at either the medical school or University Hospitals. In the early 2000s, he became the director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, a position he holds today. In 2003, Gerson became the leader of what is now known as the National Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, created through a $19.5 million state grant that he played a crucial role in securing. Both centers are multi-institutional initiatives, enabling collaboration across the university and the region’s leading hospitals and contributing to remarkable new private-sector ventures to bring breakthroughs to patients.

Gerson is the Asa & Patricia Shiverick and Jane Shiverick (Tripp) Professor of Hematological Oncology at Case Western Reserve and the director of the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. His own research centers on stem cell therapy and DNA repair. Kennedy, his Case Western Reserve patient, is cancer-free today and pursuing a career in civil engineering in Chicago.

During her treatment with Gerson, Kennedy said, “You used to die from this,” referring to Hodgkin’s disease, which is now among the most treatable forms of the disease. “I really think research is what caused that to happen … I hope the other forms of cancer will be like that someday.”

Created last year, the Case Western Reserve medal is the highest honor the medical school bestows. It is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves for efforts that advance research, education and care in extraordinary ways. The 2011 recipient was Richard Rudick, professor of medicine in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University, co-principal investigator of the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative, and Director of the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research at the Cleveland Clinic.