Leading researchers and clinicians from across the globe gathered in Rochester on October 18-19 to recognize the career of Edward Messing, M.D., F.A.C.S., and his 35 years of accomplishments in improving care for individuals with bladder, kidney, prostate, and testicular cancer. The Festschrift honoring Messing, a professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Urology and the Wilmot Cancer Institute, was the subject of a special edition of the journal Bladder Cancer.
“Throughout his career, Ed Messing has represented the embodiment of principals of academic medicine,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO or URMC. “He has been a leader and innovator in the field of minimally invasive surgery, his research has directly improved care for a range of cancers, and he has trained generations of physicians who have gone on to touch countless lives.”
“Ed Messing is a legend in the field and over the last three plus decades has transformed how we diagnose and treat patients with urological cancers,” said Jean Joseph, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.S., chair of the URMC Department of Urology. “His dedication to his craft, the personal connections he developed with his patients, and his commitment to improve care through the rigorous application of science have been an inspiration to me personally and to countless others who have been impacted by his work.”
As a busy clinician and renowned surgeon, one of the principles that has guided Messing’s career is a strong belief that science is an integral part of the practice of medicine and necessary to provide patients with the best possible care. His research has been focused on early detection, prevention, and treatment of urologic malignancies.
Messing’s research contributions have ranged from enhancing our knowledge of the basic molecular and genetic components that contribute to the development and progression of cancers of the bladder, prostate, and kidney, and translating this research into new ways to detect, prevent, and treat these diseases.
He has also designed and conducted landmark phase III clinical trials for urologic cancers, led a bladder cancer study that resulted in a simple in-office urine test to screen for the disease, and has helped shape the national recommendations for the screening of prostate cancer and the use of radiation to treat forms of the disease.
“Ed's kindness and concern for others are evident in all of his personal interactions but are also manifest in his medical accomplishments,” Joseph A Smith, M.D., a professor in the Department of Urologic Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and editor of the Journal of Urology. “One always has the sense that his primary interest is in advancing patient care rather than advancing his own self interests. I am fortunate to be able to have him as a colleague but, mostly, as a friend.”
Messing, who grew up in Brooklyn and often proudly claims that he is a product of the New York City public school system, received his medical degree from New York University (NYU) in 1972 and conducted his training at NYU, Stanford University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. He served on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin for 13 years before arriving URMC in 1995 to become chair of the Department of Urology, a position he held until January 1, 2018.
Upon arriving in Rochester, Messing oversaw the growth of the URMC Department of Urology from a faculty of 6 adult and pediatric urologists to 17 by the end of his tenure as chair. The department has become upstate New York’s leading provider of advanced urological care. During that period, the number of basic science faculty in the department increased from zero to 3 researchers who are making important contributions in the fields of renal, bladder, and prostate cancer. In addition to maintaining an active clinical schedule, Messing continues to teach residents, medical students, and graduate students.
Over the years, Messing has received numerous awards and accolades. In 2013, he was awarded the prestigious Presidential Citation from the American Urological Association (AUA) for his work in bladder cancer research and urologic education. Earlier this year he received the Ramon Guiteras Award, the highest honor given to an academic urologist by the AUA.
“It is, or should be, the goal of every academic physician to achieve two things during their career,” said Ian M Thompson Jr., M.D., president of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital – Medical Center in Texas and a member of the Board of Scientific Advisors for the National Cancer Institute.“The first of these is to train individuals who will carry the torch of innovation and exceptional clinical care. The second goal we all have is to change or improve the standard-of-care for patients. If we are successful, conversations between physicians and patients about what their best treatment is will be different based on our research. This is a far more difficult challenge, one that few of us will achieve. Ed has done this on so many occasions. His legacy is thus assured both through generations of urologists who will care for millions of patients as well as through his intellectual and innovative contributions of better care for our patients.”