Vokes appointed chairman of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center

March 9, 2009

Everett E. Vokes, MD, an international authority on the treatment of head and neck cancer, lung cancer, and drug development, whose research has helped pioneer the combined use of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, has been appointed chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center, effective March 9.

Vokes, 54, has had a prominent career in clinical and translational research, most recently as Director of the Section of Hematology/Oncology and as John E. Ultmann Professor in the Department of Medicine and Department of Radiation and Cellular Oncology at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. He is also Deputy Director of the University's Cancer Research Center and vice-chairman for clinical research in the Department of Medicine. He is a prolific researcher and has been principal investigator of the University of Chicago's National Cancer Institute Phase II program, supporting numerous phase II studies of novel agents in a network of institutions throughout the Midwest.

"We are fortunate to have someone of Everett Vokes' experience as chairman of medicine at a time when the opportunities for major advances are so great," said James L. Madara, MD, Dean of the Pritzker School of Medicine and CEO of the University of Chicago Medical Center. "His innovative approach to cancer care has always been an inspiring example of how clinical work can frame research questions, leading to new ways of treating patients. That idea of bidirectional flow in research helps define what makes this institution great, and he is ideally suited to lead us as we pursue new discoveries and unparalleled patient care."

Vokes, who came to the University of Chicago in 1983 as a hematology/oncology fellow, said he wants to build on the strengths and past successes of the Department of Medicine, the largest department at the university.

"For many years this department has been a central resource at the University of Chicago, making major contributions to our missions of research, patient care and education," Vokes said. "The department has made wonderful progress in all areas of medicine, and we are poised to continue that tradition. We live in economically challenging times, but this time also is full of opportunities to make the next great strides in every aspect of our mission."

The selection of Vokes followed an intense process of review and consultation with medical leaders within the institution and across the nation. Although university leaders already were familiar with his extensive accomplishments, they spoke with numerous world-renowned experts in hematology/oncology and across many fields of medicine to evaluate his stature and leadership. The decision to name Vokes chairman was made in consultation with the provost of the University.

Born in New York City, Vokes was educated in West Germany, receiving his medical degree from the University of Bonn Medical School. He served his residency in Internal Medicine at Ravenswood Hospital Medical Center in Chicago and at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. After coming to the University of Chicago as a fellow in 1983, Vokes remained on the faculty, and was promoted to Professor in 1995.

Vokes has authored or co-authored more than 450 papers and 80 book chapters in a career that has helped define commonly used treatment regimens. His work has shown that intense treatment combining radiation and chemotherapy can bring locally advanced head and neck cancer under control and improve survival. His research in lung cancer is directed at identifying new active therapeutic agents, as well as the interaction of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

His innovative research and clinical practice have placed Vokes on numerous "best doctor" lists, including America's Top Doctors, Best Doctors in America and Chicago magazine's "Top Doctors" list.

Vokes replaces Joe G.N. Garcia, MD, a leading authority on lung biology and disease who had held the chairmanship since 2005. Garcia will remain on the faculty and continue his research at the medical center.

Vokes has received many awards for his work, and has led many professional groups in the field of hematology/oncology. In 2008, he was one of two recipients of the new Translational Research Professorship from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He was a principal investigator of an NCI-sponsored Oral Cancer Center (1996-2001) and is a recipient of a Francis L. Lederer Foundation grant for research on the malignancies of the upper aero digestive tract. He has served as Chair of the Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALBG) Respiratory Committee since 2004.

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