Bucksbaum Institute taps cancer expert Michael Bishop, MD, as master clinician

12 new senior faculty scholars appointed for 2013-14

April 9, 2013

Michael Bishop, MD Michael Bishop, MD

The Bucksbaum Institute for Clinical Excellence has named stem cell transplant specialist Michael Bishop, MD, as its second master clinician.

The three-year appointment is designed to mentor faculty and student scholars in ways to improve crucial doctor-patient communication skills and clinical care -- hallmarks of the Bucksbaum Institute.

"I'm significantly humbled by even being considered for this position," said Bishop, professor of medicine and director of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Program.

The criteria for selection include being an active clinician, demonstrating superb clinical judgment and outstanding patient care skills, taking a compassionate and humanistic approach to medicine, and being a physician who puts patients and their families first.

The Bucksbaum Institute began in 2011 with a $42 million endowment gift from the Matthew and Carolyn Bucksbaum Family Foundation. The goals of the institute are to improve patient care, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and enhance communication and decision-making between patients and physicians.

"We thought that Dr. Bishop represented all of those mission goals," said Mark Siegler, MD, the Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Surgery and executive director of the Bucksbaum Institute. "His commitment to patients and his field of work were such that he is a wonderful choice."

Bishop came to the University of Chicago in November 2012 from Medical College of Wisconsin/Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, where he was a professor of medicine and head of the adult hematologic malignancies section. Prior to that, he spent more than a decade at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., where he served as clinical head of the experimental transplantation and immunology branch of the NCI's Center for Cancer Research.

Bishop is nationally known for his commitment to patients with difficult-to-treat diseases, those with advanced lymphoma, and patients who have not responded to first-line treatments or have relapsed.

Bishop and his team are also working to address the unique social, economic and physiological issues of patients facing stem-cell transplantation, including the elderly, who often lack an effective support system and can have differing outcomes.

"I believe physician-patient communication is an imperative," said Bishop, adding he has been focused on building a strong relationship with his patients his whole career. "I have always involved my patients in the decision-making process."

Bishop noted the nature and duration of cancer treatment produces enduring and strong bonds between doctor and patient.

"Once you go through a bone marrow transplant, you are with that patient for life," he said, adding he recently received a personal letter and photo from a patient celebrating her 10th wedding anniversary on a skiing trip with her husband.

While he has been lauded for his teaching skills and commitment to patient care, Bishop also will bring a new dimension to the Bucksbaum's core mission.

"It's very important for physicians to be able to communicate effectively with other physicians," he said. "That's important to improving patient outcomes."

In oncology, Bishop said there are often many doctors involved in a patient's care, and they need to communicate with each other in order to assess if specific treatment options would work given the nature of the patient and the illness.

He looks at what he does as "personalized medicine," a description usually used to refer to tailoring treatments based on a patient's genetic makeup.

"Every patient is unique, and you can't lump them in together," he said, emphasizing that oncologists must work effectively with family doctors and other health care professionals to maximize the patient's chances for recovery.

Bishop joins vascular surgeon Ross Milner, MD, an authority on aortic aneurysms and co-director of the Center for Aortic Diseases, as one of the first two Bucksbaum Institute Master Clinicians. Milner was appointed last autumn.

The Bucksbaum Institute also named its second set of 12 senior faculty scholar appointees for 2013-14. They are:

  • Halina Brukner, MD, Department of Medicine
  • Linda Druelinger, MD, Department of Medicine
  • Scott Eggener, MD, Department of Surgery
  • Savitri Fedson, MD, Department of Medicine
  • H. Barrett Fromme, MD, Department of Pediatrics
  • Melissa Gilliam, MD, MPH, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Nora Jaskowiak, MD, Department of Surgery
  • William McDade, MD, PhD, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care
  • Sonali Smith, MD, Department of Medicine
  • David Song, MD, Department of Surgery
  • Christopher Straus, MD, Department of Radiology
  • Monica Vela, MD, Department of Medicine


The senior faculty scholars are outstanding clinicians, teachers and mentors and personify the mission of the Bucksbaum Institute. They will work with and help train and advise Bucksbaum Institute student, junior faculty and associate junior faculty scholars.

In a separate announcement, the Bucksbaum Institute will host its second annual symposium from 12:30 to 5 p.m. Friday, April 26, at the Biological Sciences Learning Center, at 924 E. 57th St.

The keynote lecture will be given by Jerome Lowenstein, MD, professor of medicine and the founder and director of the Program for Humanistic Aspects of Medical Education at New York University. His talk is titled, "Shifting Paradigms: The Oldest Art Became the Youngest Science."

Also speaking will be Arnold P. Gold, MD, professor of clinical neurology and pediatrics at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and the chairman and founder of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, established to "promote humanism in medicine."

The current cohort of Bucksbaum student and faculty scholars will deliver research presentations, plus there will be an advisory board panel discussion. Also, winners of the 2013 Pritzker Poetry Contest will read their work.

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