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Edward J. Benz, Jr., M.D. Named President of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Business Editors and Health/Medical Writers

BOSTON--(BW HealthWire)--July 26, 2000

Edward J. Benz, Jr., M.D., an internationally recognized hematologist, has been named the next president of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Institute's Board of Trustees announced today. Benz, who will begin at Dana-Farber this fall, is currently chair of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he holds the prestigious Sir William Osler Professorship of Medicine.

Currently president of the American Society of Hematology, Benz is widely known for his work in the disorders of hemoglobin and the red blood cell membrane.

"Dr. Benz brings much to the Harvard medical community, and I look forward to working with him as a close partner to foster greater research collaboration across all of the Harvard medical institutions," said Harvard Medical School Dean Joseph Martin, chair of the search committee that selected Benz. Benz's appointment to the Richard and Susan Smith Professorship of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School is pending, according to Martin.

As president of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Benz, 54, will also serve as CEO of Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care, a collaboration of Dana-Farber, Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). In addition, Benz will become principal investigator and director of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, a research consortium created last year that includes Dana-Farber, the Harvard Medical School, BWH, MGH, Children's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the Harvard School of Public Health. He will also serve on the governing board of Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Care, the Institute's collaboration with Children's Hospital.

"I am grateful for this chance to play a key role in a wonderful collaborative effort to conquer cancer," said Benz. "It has been an enormous privilege to hold the Osler Chair - only a challenge of extraordinary importance, like this opportunity, could cause me to relinquish it. The next decade will be pivotal in the campaign to control cancer, and we are particularly well positioned to lead the decisive assault on these diseases. I am anxious to re-join my many friends and colleagues at Harvard in advancing this cause.

"It is a special honor to succeed my long time mentor, David Nathan, who has done a fabulous job of bringing so many groups together to form the Dana-Farber/ Harvard Cancer Center," Benz added.

"Finding Dr. Benz is like finding an old friend," said Gary Countryman, chairman of the Dana-Farber Board of Trustees. "He is well known and well liked, and he is an excellent clinician, teacher and investigator who will lead all of our programs with distinction."

"I have known Ed Benz for many years, and I can't think of anyone more perfectly prepared to lead Dana-Farber's fight against cancer," said David G. Nathan, M.D., current president of the Institute. "He has the scientific depth, the clinical expertise, and the administrative experience to marshal all of our resources against this deadly disease."

Benz's early work, done in collaboration with Prof. Bernard Forget when Benz was a medical student, was the first to show that analysis of gene DNA and its messenger RNA products could be used to study a human disease, beta-thalassemia. More recently, his group has shown that a key red cell membrane protein, protein 4.1, has novel and unexpected roles in cell division and growth control in other tissues, and may be involved in tumor suppression.

Benz's ties to the Harvard medical community are strong. A 1968 graduate of Princeton University (where he did his undergraduate thesis with Dr. Arthur Pardee, who is now at Dana-Farber), Benz was graduated from the Harvard Medical School, magna cum laude, in 1973. He did his award-winning medical school thesis at Children's Hospital in the division of Dr. David Nathan, the current Dana-Farber president. He also served as an intern and resident at the Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Benz received further training at the National Institutes of Health and then joined the faculty in the Department of Medicine at Yale University, where Dr. Samuel Thier (currently the president of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Partners Healthcare System) was chief of the Department of Medicine. Benz became chief of the Division of Hematology at Yale in 1987. In 1993, Benz became chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine before joining Johns Hopkins in 1995.

Benz, past president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He is married to Margaret Vettese, Ph.D., R.N., who has been a member of the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She is an expert in qualitative research and end-of life decision-making. Each has two adult children by previous marriage.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.net) is a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is the only cancer center in New England to be both a federally designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and a Center for AIDS research.
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