CHICAGO – The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) today honors Mark Kris, MD, with the inaugural ASCO Humanitarian Award for his dedication and compassion in both his professional work and free time, which has touched the lives of countless individuals. The award will be presented at the Opening Session of the Society’s 47th Annual Meeting, taking place in Chicago, June 3 – 7 at McCormick Place.
“ASCO developed the Humanitarian Award to recognize an oncologist who personifies the Society’s mission and values by going above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding patient care or through exceptional service or leadership in the U.S. or abroad,” said Allen Lichter, MD, CEO of ASCO. “Dr. Kris truly exemplifies ASCO’s mission of making a world of difference in cancer care, and we are proud to present him with the first-ever Humanitarian Award.”
“For me, it’s all about trying to give people the opportunity to live the life they choose,” said Dr. Kris of his professional and humanitarian efforts. “In truth, everything kind of flows out of being an oncologist. Once you find yourself in a situation of dealing with people with cancer and their families, it’s only natural that you’d want to do other things. I am very honored and humbled to receive this year’s Humanitarian Award.”
Dr. Kris 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 and as professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. In addition to being a pioneer in the advancement of lung cancer research and treatment, he has demonstrated exemplary patient care, including making house calls to visit those at the end of their lives.
Dr. Kris has also participated in several marathons to benefit cancer patients and serves on the medical advisory boards of two non-profit organizations: Uniting Against Lung Cancer and CancerCare.
“All of the work that Dr. Kris does for us at CancerCare is volunteer time on his part,” said Helen H. Miller, LCSW, CEO of CancerCare. “He is somebody who’s working very hard as a physician, spending time with his family, and at the same time, makes time to volunteer here and to help us.”
However, Dr. Kris’s impact is not limited to cancer care; he has spent much of his free time assisting with humanitarian aid in poverty- and disaster-stricken areas in the U.S., as well as overseas. Among his many efforts, he has assisted Habitat for Humanity in New York City; traveled to Siquirres, Costa Rica—a rural area with limited economic opportunities—to help youth programs and build a basketball court and a church; assisted with flood relief in Walton, New York and earthquake relief in Haiti; and helped with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Biloxi, Mississippi.
He also made six trips between 2006 and 2010 to rebuild homes in Dulac, Louisiana, a small French-speaking town that had been devastated by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and Gustav in 2008, where one-third of the population lives below the poverty line. Said Cathy Verdin, one of the grateful Dulac homeowners aided by Dr. Kris: “There’s no way we’ll ever be able to repay him. It’s something that gave us life…gave us hope.”
Nominations for the ASCO Humanitarian Award were accepted from ASCO members and visitors to Cancer.Net, ASCO’s patient information website.
ASCO is the world's leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.cancer.net.