UM Miller School of Medicine Professor Elected to Board of Directors
Aaron H. Wolfson, UM/Sylvester Radiation Oncologist, UM/Jackson Cancer Committee Chair, and professor and vice chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the Gynecologic Oncology Group. The Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), which receives support from the National Institutes of Health, promotes excellence and quality in clinical and basic scientific research in the field of gynecologic malignancies.
“I’m pretty shocked. It’s pretty humbling,” Dr. Wolfson remarked about the honor. “It shows a commitment to the time I’ve put into the GOG and women’s cancer and another way for me to contribute to treating these types of cancers on a national level.”
Dr. Wolfson has indeed put in many years working to find treatments for cervical cancer and he has a long history with the GOG. He has been attending GOG meetings on his own since 1991, when he first arrived in Miami. One year later, Dr. Wolfson was put on the Radiation Oncology Committee, where he still serves. As part of that group, he works to advance quality control, monitoring women who receive radiation.
For seven years, Dr. Wolfson was also part of the Corpus Site Group with the GOG, specifically focusing on cancer of the uterus. Four years ago, he was placed on the GOG’s Membership Committee. His election to the Board of Directors, where he will be one of six to 14 members, is rare, Wolfson said. “I’m humbled because they don’t usually honor radiation oncologists.” Dr. Wolfson was nominated and then approved by most of the 50 full members.
Dr. Wolfson, co-leader of the Gynecologic Cancer Site Disease Group at UM/Sylvester, has been a pioneer in treating cervical cancer. Along with Xiaodong Wu, Ph.D., chief physicist and associate professor of radiation oncology at the Miller School of Medicine, Dr. Wolfson developed a patented medical device for the delivery of low-dose-rate brachytherapy to selected gynecologic cancer patients. This invention has recently been licensed by UM’s Office of Technology Transfer to Bio-Nucleonics Inc. and is now trademarked as the Gynocyte. The device allows physicians to deliver targeted radiation therapy, known as a radiation brachytherapy implant, to these cancer patients with more precision, better response and less discomfort. That device is expected to go into worldwide production and distribution in the next four to six months.
As part of Dr. Wolfson’s election to the Board, he will serve on the Committee on Human Research. The appointment is a four-year term that begins with the first meeting in January 2008.
Dr. Wolfson says his appointment “affirms the commitment to research as well as the evaluation and treatment of women with gynecological cancer” at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. “This shows we are national players in this area. Hopefully the word will get out and we will see more patients.”
UM/Sylvester is a “major player in gynecological cancer” and the research that’s going on. Dr. Wolfson has a Phase I clinical study in advanced cancers of the uterus opened at UM/Sylvester right now, along with seeing patients both on the Miami campus and at the Deerfield Beach branch.
Because Dr. Wolfson has dedicated himself to a rare cancer, he’s had to work especially hard to get funding, but he says he has done it because it is his “passion.” This is the “icing on the cake for putting in all this time. I get to further lead the national direction for treating women’s cancer.”
UM/Sylvester opened in 1992 to provide comprehensive cancer services and today serves as the hub for cancer-related research, diagnosis, and treatment at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. UM/Sylvester handles nearly 1,600 inpatient admissions annually, performs 2,600 surgical procedures, and treats 3,400 new cancer patients. All UM/Sylvester physicians are on the faculty of the Miller School of Medicine, South Florida’s only academic medical center. In addition, UM/Sylvester physicians and scientists are engaged in more than 250 clinical trials and receive more than $30 million annually in research grants. UM/Sylvester at Deerfield Beach opened in 2003 to better meet the needs of residents of Broward and Palm Beach counties. This 10,000 square-foot facility at I-95 and S.W. 10th Street offers appointments with physicians from 13 Site Disease Groups, chemotherapy visits, complementary therapies from the Courtelis Center, and education and outreach events.