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David L. Bartlett, M.D.

David L. Bartlett, M.D.

 Arthur S. Levine, M.D.
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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

2006 Bernard Fisher Lecture To Feature Oncologist Known For Innovative Cancer Drug Strategies

PITTSBURGH, January 25, 2006 – Larry Norton, M.D., a leader in the development of chemotherapeutic regimens for breast cancer, will deliver the 2006 Bernard Fisher Lecture in honor of University of Pittsburgh pioneering breast cancer researcher, Bernard Fisher, M.D., at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Dr. Norton, deputy physician-in-chief for breast cancer programs at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, will speak in Auditorium 6 in Scaife Hall, 3550 Terrace St., on Pitt’s Oakland campus. His topic will be “The Scientific Method and Progress Against Breast Cancer: Continuing the Fisherian Revolution.” A reception will follow in Scaife Hall, Room 1105.

“I’m especially pleased to welcome Dr. Larry Norton, a remarkably talented oncologist and cancer researcher, to campus,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. “His lecture will be a fitting tribute to Bernard Fisher, who has truly achieved iconic stature for his contributions to the contemporary understanding of cancer and the metastatic process.”

Dr. Norton introduced the strategy of using sequential drug combinations to counter differences in drug sensitivities among tumor cells, highly regarded as a significant contribution to cancer treatment. His therapeutic approach, known as “dose density” or “sequential dose density,” distributes anticancer drugs based on a mathematical model that predicts maximum cancer cell death with minimum toxicity. The Norton-Simon Model, which he co-developed, explores how growth characteristics of cancers affect response to therapy. New anticancer therapies and approaches to chemotherapy and hormonal therapy have resulted from his research.

Dr. Norton holds the Norna S. Sarofim Chair in Clinical Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He also is a professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He received his medical degree from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and did residency training at Bronx Municipal Hospital Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, followed by a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute. Among his many roles with professional organizations over the years is scientific director of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and, since 1993, chair of its Medical Advisory Board. He is past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and a former presidential appointee to the National Cancer Advisory Board.

Lecture namesake Dr. Fisher, a 1943 graduate of Pitt’s medical school, is a distinguished service professor of surgery at the school. He also is past chairman and scientific director of the Pittsburgh-based research consortium known as the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, which, in the late 1960’s, found radical mastectomy to be no more effective than total mastectomy and, in turn, total mastectomy to be no more effective than lumpectomy in treating breast cancer. In 1990, Dr. Fisher’s group went on to show the effectiveness of adjuvant chemotherapy and hormonal therapy (tamoxifen) in treating breast cancer as a systemic disease, not one that could be cured by surgery alone. In subsequent studies, he found that tamoxifen substantially reduces the incidence of breast cancer in high-risk women, providing evidence that breast cancer can be both treated and prevented.

Dr. Fisher’s many honors and awards include the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award, the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation’s Kettering Prize, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor and the American Surgical Association Medallion for Scientific Achievement.

In conjunction with this year’s Fisher Lecture, which is open to the public, David L. Bartlett, M.D., professor of surgery and chief of the division of surgical oncology at the School of Medicine, will be installed as the inaugural Dr. Bernard Fisher Professor of Surgery. Dr. Bartlett, who also directs the David C. Koch Regional Perfusion Cancer Therapy Center at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, specializes in regional therapeutics—the delivery of chemotherapy or biological therapeutic agents directly to the blood vessels leading to a tumor. His clinical expertise is in the management of advanced, complex abdominal cancers, and much of his research focuses on tumor-directed gene therapy for cancer. Prior to coming to Pittsburgh in 2001, Dr. Bartlett was a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research.

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