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URMC / News / American Society of Clinical Oncology Honors Wilmot Physician with National Award

American Society of Clinical Oncology Honors Wilmot Physician with National Award

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Two women standing and talking on the staircase at the Wilmot Cancer Center
Supriya Mohile, M.D., (right) talks with cancer survivor and patient advocate Beverly Canin, at the Wilmot Cancer Center.

Supriya G. Mohile, M.D., M.S., an oncologist at the Wilmot Cancer Institute and trailblazer in the growing field of geriatric oncology, has been named the 2018 winner of the B.J. Kennedy Award by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). She will deliver the B.J. Kennedy Lecture on June 4 at ASCO’s annual meeting in Chicago.

The Kennedy Award recognizes one of ASCO's 40,000 members for outstanding contributions to research, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer in the elderly.

Mohile plans to talk about the need for a transformational shift in geriatric oncology, by using data to improve communication between doctor and patient. Such data includes assessments of an older patient’s cognition/memory and other health issues like heart disease or diabetes, and nutrition, for example, to aid in making decisions about of the risks and benefits of cancer treatment, she said.

“Cancer is a disease of aging and Americans are living longer,” Mohile said. “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in our research, and grateful for the opportunity to seek practical interventions to improve the quality of life of older adults. I’m also honored to be part of a team of national experts that is so committed to this issue. We will continue to educate thought-leaders in oncology about the need for more tools for treating older patients.”

ASCO, the world’s largest gathering of oncologists, will highlight Mohile’s work at the annual meeting in two additional ways:

  • The Journal of Clinical Oncology on May 21 published ASCO’s first-ever, evidence-based geriatric oncology guidelines for doctors, and will recommend that all oncologists follow them, particularly when prescribing chemotherapy. Mohile is first author of the guidelines, which lays out for practicing physicians how to manage the unique vulnerabilities of patients 65 years and older with cancer, and how to conduct geriatric assessments. The assessments are not yet routinely used in cancer, but they can change the course of a patient’s care.
  • At a press event on June 1, ASCO will single out a Mohile-led study from the thousands of abstracts submitted to the meeting. The randomized clinical trial explored whether a geriatric assessment improves communication with older patients with cancer.

Simultaneously, Mohile is being named to the Philip and Marilyn Wehrheim Professorship at Wilmot, pending approval by the Board of Trustees. The endowed chair was established nearly a decade ago to support a scientist involved in translational research.  

“Supriya is an outstanding member of our Wilmot faculty, and is now appropriately recognized by ASCO as an international leader in the field of geriatric oncology,” said Jonathan Friedberg, M.D., M.M.Sc., director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute. “In addition to her research accomplishments, she leads one of the largest geriatric oncology clinical programs in the country, right here in Rochester. We look forward to her continuing the good work.”

The geriatric oncology clinic that she founded in collaboration with William Dale, M.D., Ph.D., — called Specialized Oncology Care and Research in the Elderly or SOCARE — now has four physicians dually certified in geriatrics and oncology and works closely with teams of nurses and doctors in psychiatry and palliative care. It is one of only a handful of geriatric oncology programs in the U.S.

A professor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Mohile joined the faculty in 2007. She is a graduate of the Thomas Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia, and completed an internship, residency, and geriatrics and oncology fellowships, and also earned a master’s degree in health outcomes research, at the University of Chicago.

Early in her career, when geriatric oncology was barely recognized as a specialization, Mohile found mentors at the URMC in geriatrician William Hall, M.D., and hematology oncologists Deepak Sahasrabudhe, M.B.B.S., and John Bennett, M.D., who received the Kennedy Award from ASCO in 2011. Later, Gary Morrow, Ph.D., M.S., director of Wilmot’s Cancer Control and Survivorship program, signed on to become Mohile’s mentor to develop her research and grant-writing capabilities.

As a result, she said, she’s trying to pay it forward: For example, the National Institute on Aging recently awarded Mohile a K24 grant, a highly competitive and specialized award to mid-career health professionals who are mentors. The K24 covers expenses for protected time to devote to patient-oriented research and to act as a research mentor for clinical residents, fellows, or junior faculty. Mohile currently mentors numerous geriatric oncology trainees and junior faculty, who are developing their own programs of research. Her mentees include Allison Magnuson, M.D., (cognition and cancer), Erika Ramsdale, M.D., (informatics), Ron Maggiore, M.D., (supportive care), Melissa Loh, M.D., (leukemia and quality of life), and Jason Zittel, M.D. (quality of care).  

Mohile continues to build infrastructure for geriatric oncology research nationally and internationally. In 2017 she started a position as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Geriatric Oncology. And in collaboration with investigators at City of Hope and the Cancer and Aging Research Group, Mohile received an R21/R33 grant, another specialized award from the NIA, to foster an infrastructure for cancer and aging research that will support early projects likely to lead to bigger initiatives at Wilmot and nationally.

Mohile is quick to recognize two geriatric oncology colleagues from the City of Hope in California— Dale, who is the Arthur M. Coppola Family Chair in Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope, and Arti Hurria, M.D., director of City of Hope’s Center for Cancer and Aging, for their support and leadership in this burgeoning field.

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