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September 2017 Archives

13
2017

M74 alumna Edith Mitchell is 2017 ASTRO Honorary Member

Edith Peterson Mitchell, M’74, has been chosen as the 2017 American Society for Radiation Oncology Honorary Member.

Edith Peterson Mitchell, M’74, has been chosen as the 2017 American Society for Radiation Oncology Honorary Member.

Edith Peterson Mitchell, M’74, a leading researcher, medical oncologist and proponent of combined modality treatment, has been chosen as the 2017 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Honorary Member. Mitchell will receive this award, which is the highest honor ASTRO awards to distinguished cancer researchers and leaders in disciplines outside of radiation oncology, radiobiology or radiation physics, at ASTRO’s 59th Annual Meeting in San Diego on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017.

“Dr. Edith Mitchell has been a longtime proponent of combined modality treatment — using chemotherapy and radiation therapy together in order to provide cancer patients with the best possible outcomes,” says ASTRO Chair David C. Beyer, M.D., FASTRO. “Our specialty is privileged to have a champion such as Dr. Mitchell, who is a widely respected clinician as well as decorated military veteran. Her service to both our country and our field is laudable.”

Mitchell is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology and serves as a clinical professor of medicine and medical oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She also serves as the associate director for diversity programs and director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities for the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson. Additionally, Mitchell served as the 116th president of the National Medical Association.

Her work on chemoradiation for gastrointestinal cancers has helped raise the profile of radiation oncology by providing clinical evidence for the merits of combined modality treatment. Through the NRG Oncology/Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), she has provided medical oncology leadership for prospective chemoradiation trials defining standards of care for gastrointestinal malignancies. As a result, Mitchell has authored several peer-reviewed publications on the RTOG trials 0012 and 0247.

“The RTOG trials helped break new ground for radiation oncology,” says ASTRO Immediate Past Chair Bruce D. Minsky, MD, FASTRO, who nominated Mitchell for this award. “Edith is a strong advocate and friend of radiation oncology. I can think of no other medical oncologist who has made more significant positive contributions to our community.”

She has also had leadership positions in trials examining breast, colon and pancreatic cancers involving new drug evaluation and chemotherapy, development of new therapeutic regimens, patient selection criteria and supportive care for patients with gastrointestinal cancer.

Mitchell graduated from Tennessee State University in Nashville with a bachelor’s in biochemistry. She completed her internship and residency at Meharry Medical College followed by a fellowship in medical oncology at Georgetown University.

Mitchell received a commission through the Health Professions Scholarship Program in 1973 to join the Air Force while in medical school. She entered active duty after completing her fellowship at Georgetown. Mitchell is now a retired brigadier general, the first female physician to attain this rank in the history of the U.S. Air Force. Over her military career, she has been awarded more than 15 service medals and ribbons, including the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal, among others.

In her medical career, Mitchell has authored or co-authored more than 130 articles, book chapters and abstracts on cancer treatment, prevention and cancer control. She has served on several National Cancer Institute review panels, including the Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee and the Blue Ribbon Panel convened to advise the National Cancer Advisory Board on former Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. She was awarded the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Control Award for her significant commitment to research, education and diversity.

Mitchell says she is honored to receive the 2017 ASTRO Honorary Membership and looks forward to further research on combined modality therapeutic interventions.

Courtesy of American Society for Radiation Oncology

13
2017

M4 Justin Mauser: Mind Over Mountains

M4 Justin Mauser used a 900-mile bike tour to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

M4 Justin Mauser used a 900-mile bike tour to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. You can see more photos from his bike tour and read his blog at https://meditate.bike/#intro.

Pedaling through the Great Divide Basin of Wyoming with a cool breeze against his face, Justin Mauser, M’18, couldn’t help but reflect on his journey to medical school.

“Sometimes people think they can’t clear their mind while engaged in a physical activity,” he says. “But surrounded by all that beauty in wide open spaces, it was very meditative.”

Mauser spent two weeks in August on a self-supported bike tour along the Continental Divide Trail to raise funds and awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. He and a friend, Cedric Bosch, traveled by bicycle for about 900 miles from Dillon, Montana, to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. He returned to northern Virginia, where he is completing his fourth-year of medical school at the School of Medicine’s Inova Fairfax Campus, on Aug. 20.

“Suicide is taboo and frightening; people don’t necessarily want to talk about it,” Mauser says. “It’s important to bring more awareness to suicide and let anyone who might be headed down that road know there is a network of support for them.”

“Suicide is taboo and frightening; people don’t necessarily want to talk about it,” Mauser says. “It’s important to bring more awareness to suicide and let anyone who might be headed down that road know there is a network of support for them.”

Mauser’s “Mind Over Mountains” tour is his second major bike trip. In 2011, he trekked from Bar Harbor, Maine, to his alma mater, the University of Arizona in Tucson. The ride raised more than $8,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona.

“It’s rewarding to turn these rides into something that benefits others,” he says.

Growing up in Tucson, Mauser always wanted to be a doctor. But he wasn’t sure he would ever reach his goal. He was denied admission to medical school twice before he was accepted to VCU.

“I tell people all the time to never give up on their dreams,” he says. “Keep working toward your goal. I hope I can motivate others.”

On reflection, Mauser realizes the wait was beneficial. It gave him time to earn his EMT certification, to volunteer in hospice and work as a hospital scribe.

“The amount of growth I’ve seen in myself has been incredible,” he says. “I realize that when you step in a room you can have a big impact on the health of a patient – whether you are brightening their day with a joke or helping them feel better through medicine. It’s gratifying to see their improvement.”

“I ride to not only expand my own horizons and challenge myself, but to turn that challenge into something bigger than myself,” he says. “If I can do something that benefits others, it’s so much more powerful.”

“I ride to not only expand my own horizons and challenge myself, but to turn that challenge into something bigger than myself,” he says. “If I can do something that benefits others, it’s so much more powerful.”

His bike tours have also helped him connect with people. On his recent ride, he met a group of bikers while seeking refuge at a church in Pinedale, Wyoming. Some had come from as far away as Italy, Ireland and Great Britain to conquer the Continental Divide Mountain biking Trail.

“We rode together for a few days,” Mauser says. “It was amazing to meet others from around the world and form a bond with them. It was like we knew each other for years after less than a week.”

During his rides he has also noted how making time for meditation, eating healthy foods and getting plenty of sleep improved his mood. He hopes to share his findings with his classmates as part of the Getting Progressively Stronger Student Wellness program.

“I’m so proud of Justin,” says Homan Wai, M.D., director of the Student Wellness program. “Having a passion and sticking to it is a great lesson for us all. We want our students to be humanistic, to have that inner passion to help people.”

Justin Mauser’s bike tour raised about $2,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. For more information about the nonprofit, visit www.afsp.org. The foundation also offers a hotline for people in crisis, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Mauser is already looking forward to his next ride, wherever it may take him.

“I ride to not only expand my own horizons and challenge myself, but to turn that challenge into something bigger than myself,” he says. “If I can do something that raises awareness of a serious issue, it’s so much more powerful.”

By Janet Showalter

Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine
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Updated: 04/29/2016