OHSU Cancer Institute Researcher Elected to National Post

02/19/04    Portland, Ore.

Charles Blanke, M.D., named head of gastrointestinal research for one of the nation's largest clinical cancer research groups

Charles D. Blanke, M.D., leader of the Solid Tumors Program at the OHSU Cancer Institute and associate professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology) in the OHSU School of Medicine, has been elected chairman of the Gastrointestinal Committee of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG).

SWOG is one of the largest National Cancer Institute-supported cancer clinical trials cooperative groups in the United States. Its primary mission is clinical research in the prevention and cure of cancer in adults.

"This appointment both acknowledges Charles Blanke's expertise and recognizes that the OHSU Cancer Institute has internationally recognized experts in cancer research and treatment," said Grover Bagby Jr., M.D., director of the OHSU Cancer Institute. "It also validates our approach to cancer, which is to develop newer, less toxic forms of therapy and new strategies for cancer prevention based on molecular medicine."

A 1988 graduate of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Blanke specializes in gastrointestinal oncology patient care and focuses his research on colorectal cancer, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and chemoprevention.

"SWOG brings to the table national resources to help answer questions that would require too many patients for any single institution to accrue," Blanke said. "I'm honored to have this opportunity to help guide national research policy and funding to determine the very best therapies for those with gastrointestinal malignancies."

Blanke contributed to the groundbreaking science that led to Gleevec becoming the standard of care for KIT-positive gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). Before Gleevec, early surgical removal was the only hope for a GIST patient to survive more than a few months. Working to disable the KIT protein driving tumor growth, Gleevec was shown to melt these tumors away.

Recently, Blanke also was named chairman of the American Society of Clinical Oncology's 2005 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, one of the largest meetings of its kind in the world. With more than 20,000 members, ASCO is the world's leading professional organization representing physicians who treat people with cancer.



Grover Bagby Jr., M.D., director of the OHSU Cancer Institute; professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology), and molecular and medical genetics, OHSU School of Medicine; head of health of hematology/oncology, Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center; and a member of the Association of American Physicians