Mark G. Kris, MD, Recipient of First ASCO Humanitarian Award

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Mark G. Kris, MDThe ASCO Humanitarian Award honors an oncologist who personifies ASCO’s mission and values by going above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding patient care through innovative means or exceptional service and leadership in voluntary, uncompensated endeavors in the United States or abroad. This award is unique in that nominations were accepted from visitors to Cancer.Net, ASCO’s patient information website, as well as from ASCO members.

Mark G. Kris, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, both professionally and personally, has exhibited a level of dedication and compassion that has touched the lives of countless individuals. Described by colleagues at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as a pioneer of lung cancer research and treatment, Dr. Kris also demonstrated exemplary patient care, even making house calls when a visit to the hospital would be too taxing.

Extracurricular Efforts

Dr. Kris has participated in two full marathons and several half-marathons to benefit patients with cancer through Fred’s Team (which raises funds for cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) as well as all seven “Run as One” races sponsored by The Thomas Labreque Foundation supporting lung cancer awareness and research. “It’s very gratifying to give patients with lung cancer and their families a place where they can celebrate their successes and meet other families dealing with the illness,” Dr. Kris said. “Seeing families rally around a member who is fighting the disease is even better than crossing the finish line in the marathon.”

Dr. Kris’ work, however, is not limited to cancer care. He has spent much of his free time assisting with humanitarian efforts in poverty- and disaster-stricken areas in the United States and overseas. Since 2000, he has assisted Habitat for Humanity in New York City, and when Walton, New York, flooded in 2006, Dr. Kris helped clean water-damaged basements and raised funds to supply furnaces to homeowners.

Since 2005, Dr. Kris has traveled numerous times to Biloxi, Mississippi, and to Dulac, Louisiana, to rebuild damaged homes that had been devastated by hurricanes.

In 2004 and 2005, he traveled to Siquirres, Costa Rica, to help local youths build a basketball court and a church. After the earthquake in Haiti, he traveled to the small town of Furcy, where he led efforts to rebuild a school, assisted in the construction of new buildings, worked in a health clinic, formed a scholarship to build additional schools, and acquired seeds for local residents to plant new crops.

Service to Science

Dr. Kris, a medical oncologist, currently serves as Chief of the Thoracic Oncology Service and the William and Joy Ruane Chair in Thoracic Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He also is Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He specializes in thoracic malignancies including lung cancer, thymoma, and cancer of unknown primary site. His research interests include targeted therapies for lung cancer, multimodality therapy, the development of new anticancer drugs, and symptom management, with a focus on preventing emesis.

An ASCO member since 1983, Dr. Kris has served on and led numerous committees. He received an ASCO Statesman Award in 2010 in recognition of his service to the Society. ■

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