publication date: Jan. 4, 2019

An Appreciation

Waun Ki Hong, Mentor Magnificus

(Aug. 14, 1942 – Jan. 2, 2019)

By Fadlo R. Khuri

Yesterday, I received a succession of phone calls through the afternoon and evening—from Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at the Yale Cancer Center, Marge Foti, president of the American Association for Cancer Research, Patrick Hwu, head of the Division of Cancer Medicine at the MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), and Otis Brawley, professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University.

They all wanted to know if I had heard the terrible and unexpected news that Waun Ki Hong had passed away—and to check that I was OK. In circumstances like this, OK is a relative term, but my first thoughts are with the man himself and his family. And what a man he was.

Waun Ki Hong’s contributions to medicine changed the field as we know it. Partnering with Gregory Wolf at the Boston VA Medical Center, he led the first major larynx preservation study, which opened the door to his pioneering work on the clinical chemoprevention of cancer.

At MDACC, with Reuben Lotan and Walter Hittleman, and others, he ushered in the era of large multi-investigator, peer-reviewed translational research grants before they became the norm.

As head of the Division of Cancer Medicine at MDACC, with former president John Mendelsohn, he established the institution as the world’s leading clinical and translational cancer research and care center.

Dr. Hong—or Ki, as he preferred that we all called him—mentored and nurtured scores of translational researchers over several generations, and from all over the world. He lived by the credo of Red Auerbach, … Continue reading Waun Ki Hong, Mentor Magnificus

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