The Fred W. Stewart Award of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center honors a Pathologist each year who has made outstanding contributions in advancing our knowledge of human cancer.
The Award emphasizes the clinical significance of those contributions, particularly in diagnosis and patient care. It reflects the traditions and values brought to the Department of Pathology by Dr. Stewart, first as an Associate of Dr. James Ewing, and then as Chairman of the Department, for a period extending more than 30 years.
Ralph Hruban is a world-renowned pancreatic cancer pathology expert who has devoted his academic career to the study of pancreatic neoplasms. He has made significant contributions to the understanding of all types of pancreas tumors: ductal, acinar, and neuroendocrine. Importantly, his work on pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PanINs) and intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs), the precursor lesions that give rise to invasive pancreatic cancer, has had a particularly significant impact both in the field of pancreas research and with regard to how patients are prognosticated and managed.
Dr. Hruban obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His pathology training consisted of residency in anatomic pathology at Johns Hopkins and fellowship in oncologic surgical pathology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In 1990, upon completion of his fellowship, Dr. Hruban returned to Johns Hopkins to join the faculty and has remained there ever since. Quickly rising through the academic ranks to become professor of both pathology and oncology, Dr. Hruban has served multiple important roles over the years at Johns Hopkins, and is currently Director of the Sol Goldman Pancreas Cancer Research Center, Director of the Division of Gastrointestinal and Liver Pathology, and Director of the Department of Pathology.
Dr. Hruban joined the quest to conquer pancreatic cancer early on. In the early 1990s, the world of biomedical research was in one of its more visible transformations from older-style analyses to newer and more complex technologies, and the focus on the origins of cancer was converging at the molecular level largely as a consequence of studies done with the newer technologies. It was then that Dr. Hruban and his colleagues took to techniques such as mutant-enriched polymerase chain reaction analysis in combination with allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization, and revealed that KRAS mutations (now known to represent one of the few big “mountains” in pancreatic cancer’s genomic landscape) were important events in the disease. Dr. Hruban envisioned presciently then that specific molecular alterations of this type would not only allow a better understanding of the genetic drivers for pancreatic cancer development, but also have the potential to serve as markers for the detection of this deadly disease at an early stage when intervention might still save lives. In the same spirit of applying innovative approaches to the study of cancer, Dr. Hruban also co-founded the National Familial Pancreas Tumor Registry at Johns Hopkins, a patient registry that would now serves as an invaluable resource for the study of pancreas tumors.
The two decades following these initial efforts saw Dr. Hruban diving ever deeper into the field of pancreas neoplasia, while keeping focus on understanding the noninvasive precursor lesions from which invasive cancers develop (PanINs and IPMNs), the familial aggregation of some pancreatic cancers, and the pathologic ramifications of genetic alterations in the pancreas. During this time, at Hopkins and with multi-institutional collaborative groups, Dr. Hruban produced meritorious scientific work that served both to advance pancreatic cancer research as well as to facilitate diagnosis, detection, prevention, prognosis and treatment. In testament to such achievements, Dr. Hruban has over 700 scientific papers, and is cited by the Essential Science Indicators as the most cited pancreatic cancer scientist in the world. It is only natural that numerous awards have been bestowed on him in recognition of his achievements, including the Arthur Purdy Stout Prize and the Ramzi Cotran Award from USCAP, the PanCAN Medical Visionary Award, the Ruth C. Brufsky Award of Excellence in Clinical Research for Pancreatic Cancer, and election to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Most recently, riding on the wave of next generation sequencing, Dr. Hruban, along with a group of distinguished pancreas scientists including MSK’s David Klimstra and Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, made the discovery of a new cancer pathway and new familial pancreatic cancer genes, defined the time course for the development of pancreatic neoplasia, and showed that each of the four cystic tumors of the pancreas has a unique mutational profile. Once again, these efforts have significantly improved the understanding of the fundamental genetic changes that characterize pancreatic neoplasms, and importantly, bear immediate clinical implications. It is only fitting that Dr. Hruban and his colleagues were recognized for their efforts as recipients of the prestigious Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research.
Dr. Hruban is also a superb surgical pathologist and an ardent educator. He has dedicated time and effort to the teaching of gastrointestinal and pancreas pathology to trainees and practicing pathologists as well as patients worldwide. He has disseminated knowledge through lectures, courses, books, and digital media. Dr. Hruban has written more than 150 book chapters and reviews, and authored or coauthored six books, including the AFIP Fascicle on Tumors of the Pancreas and the World Health Organization “blue book” on tumors of the digestive tract. With a deep appreciation of visual arts, Dr. Hruban has utilized creative images for the teaching of pathology and developed iPhone and iPad apps to teach pancreas pathology to medical professionals and to serve as an educational guide for patients, family members and friends facing a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Hruban has also made his mark in other fields, as he has produced an award-winning documentary on William Stewart Halsted and an audio series called “Osler Minutes” on the philosophy of William Osler.
- Frank W. Foote, MD (1978)
- A.G. Everson Pearse, MD (1979)
- Robert E. Scully, MD (1980)
- Raffaele Lattes, MD (1981)
- William M. Christopherson, MD (1982)
- Hans Popper, MD (1983)
- Leopold G. Koss, MD (1984)
- Franz M. Enzinger, MD (1985)
- Arthur C. Upton, MD (1986)
- Lauren V. Ackerman, MD (1987)
- David C. Dahlin, MD (1988)
- Peter C. Nowell, MD (1989)
- Renato Baserga, MD (1990)
- Javier Arias Stella, MD (1991)
- Karl Lennert, MD (1992)
- Myron R. Melamed, MD (1993)
- J. Bruce Beckwith, MD (1994)
- John F.R. Kerr, MD (1995)
- Lance A. Liotta, MD (1996)
- Sharon Whelan Weiss, MD (1997)
- John J. Kepes, MD (1998)
- Ronald A. Delellis, MD (1999)
- John Aidan Carney, MD (2000)
- Stephen S. Sternberg, MD (2001)
- Elaine S. Jaffe, MD (2002)
- James M. Woodruff, MD (2003)
- William Jackson Frable, MD (2004)
- Christopher D.M. Fletcher, MD (2005)
- Juan Rosai, MD (2006)
- Peter C. Burger, MD (2007)
- Paul Peter Rosen, MD (2008)
- Robert J. Kurman, MD (2009)
- Julia A. Bridge, MD (2010)
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