publication date: Jan. 4, 2019

An Appreciation

Waun Ki Hong, eminent role model, was always years ahead of the field

By Patrick Hwu

This week, we lost a cancer research pioneer, and friend and mentor to many in the field, with the sudden death of Waun Ki Hong, M.D., a world-renowned clinical researcher who leaves behind a remarkable legacy.

He was a trail-blazing scientist whose innovations led to successful organ-sparing cancer treatment. Best known as the father of chemoprevention, his groundbreaking clinical trial at MD Anderson to treat precancerous lesions for oral cancers established proof of principle for preventing cancer by treating its precursor growths. This rapidly rippled to improve treatment for other disease sites, such as the use of tamoxifen and raloxifene to prevent breast cancer.

Breakthroughs such as these earned him many of the oncology field’s most prestigious accolades during his career at MD Anderson, starting in 1984 as Head and Neck Medical Oncology section chief and then leading the Cancer Medicine Division from 2001 to 2014, in addition to serving as the institution’s vice provost for clinical research from 2012 to 2013.

Dr. Hong was truly loved and revered worldwide. He was so deeply respected that few of us could actually address him as “Ki” as he requested. Every time I tried, “Dr. Hong” would come out of my mouth instead. All of those around him knew that, in his heart, he always wanted the best for us.

Waun Ki Hong and Patrick Hwu

Waun Ki Hong presents Patrick Hwu with the 2009 … Continue reading Waun Ki Hong, eminent role model, was always years ahead of the field

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