Eastern Virginia Medical School Brings Prominent Cancer Expert, Dr. Joanne Mortimer, to Hampton Roads
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Eastern Virginia Medical School Brings Prominent Cancer Expert, Dr. Joanne Mortimer, to Hampton Roads 

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NORFOLK, VA - A prominent cancer expert, Joanne E. Mortimer, M.D., will join the EVMS faculty as division chief for medical oncology in the department of internal medicine and become medical director of the Sentara Cancer Institute at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on July 1, 2002.

Mortimer is currently professor of medicine and director of clinical oncology at Barnard Cancer Center at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Mortimer brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the position, according to J. Sumner Bell, M.D., EVMS president.

"The appointment of Dr. Mortimer and the commitment she brings will build upon our existing strengths and enable us to continue our leadership in marrying bench research to the latest advances in care," Bell said.

Evan R. Farmer, M.D., EVMS dean and provost, said Mortimer will take a leadership role in guiding this area's collaborative cancer care efforts.
"Dr. Mortimer's qualifications speak for themselves," Farmer said. "She is very well respected in her field. She has done a lot of research in the field of oncology, working with surgeons, radiation oncologists and others. And she is really a team player."

"We're pleased to be working with EVMS to bring a talent like Dr. Mortimer to the Sentara Cancer Institute," said Mark Gavens, president of Sentara Southside Hospitals. "She has exceptional expertise in specialty cancer care and the proven ability to engage hospitals and physicians in developing a multi-specialty cancer center organized around the patient."

Sentara Cancer Institute, located at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, provides a broad range of cancer services to the Hampton Roads community including prevention, education, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and clinical research.

The recruitment of Dr. Mortimer is in response to the fact that cancer is one of the leading health problems in Hampton Roads. The disproportionately high local death rate from cancer is one reason a recent Community Health Status Report, compiled by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, describes the region's relative health as "unfavorable."

Mortimer received her medical degree from the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University. She completed her internal medicine training and a medical oncology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. She spent seven years on the faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle and was an associate in clinical research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle prior to assuming her position in at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in 1989.

She has served on a variety of hospital and university committees. Currently, she is a member of the cancer committee at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where she is a former chairman and current member of the education subcommittee.

Mortimer has been listed twice in Best Doctors in America. She received Teacher of the Year honors at both the University of Washington and at Washington University.

She co-directs the oncology fellowship program at Washington University and is active in the American Society of Clinical Oncology, having served as chairman of the oncology-training program. She co-chairs the Missouri Cancer Pain Initiative and is a former member of the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mortimer said she looks forward to the challenges her new position will offer.
"I love to teach," Mortimer said. "EVMS and Sentara have unique and excellent educational, research, and clinical resources. Learning more about the disease processes inevitably leads to improved care. It is a unique opportunity for me to work with the various sub-specialists towards enhancing the multi disciplinary care of patients with cancer."

Mortimer's focus is on breast cancer, but future collaborative efforts will encompass other specialists with a variety of interests and expertise.

"We have some wonderful people already doing a lot of good things here at EVMS," Farmer said. "What we are doing is enlarging on their activities and putting all these together. Then we'll be able to do some very good things that medical schools do with cancer care -- bring a lot of people together in multiple disciplines to focus on the delivery of care to the patient."

Farmer said the arrival of Dr. Mortimer to coordinate area cancer care will have important educational, research and clinical advantages.

"As our efforts continue and we have the opportunity to enhance what we are doing, we will bring in other cancer specialists. The main point is to make sure we are doing education and research right," he said. " Right now, most of the cancer treatment is done out in the community. We are bringing our people together into a more comprehensive unit, and we are adding the breast cancer phase and we are adding chemotherapy."

Farmer said EVMS will continue to build on an existing solid foundation in basic science cancer research.

"One of the things we have at EVMS is an excellent basic science research effort in cancer," he said. "What I envision is bringing that basic science research component closer to the clinical side because that's where the next advances are going to come. I see a marriage of the basic sciences and the clinical side, each doing what they do best, working as a unit to solve problems."

Farmer said this enhancement to the area's cancer effort is an example of the kind of progress he'd like to see at EVMS.

"This is a unique opportunity to put together a multi-disciplinary approach to understanding the biology of cancer in the context of caring for patients, with the ultimate goal of improving the health of this community," Farmer said.

"One of my goals for the school is to look at opportunities like this as a way to grow, to build on what EVMS already has accomplished," he said. "This is a significant area where we are able to take what already exists here and, by adding another element, to markedly move the school forward. That is very exciting."

Others at EVMS said they are also excited at the appointment of Mortimer. "This gives us a great opportunity," said George L. Wright, Ph.D., professor and chairman of microbiology and molecular cell biology and holder of the EVMS Foundation Chair in Biomedical Sciences. He also serves as director of the Virginia Prostate Center.

"I've had two meetings with Dr. Mortimer and I've been very impressed with her background and her ability to build up a cancer program at Washington University," Wright said "This a model of what we want to develop here, an opportunity to build up our clinical and research relationships within EVMS as well as in the community."

James J. Stark, M.D., EVMS clinical associate professor of internal medicine and an oncologist, also praised Mortimer.

"She has a very distinguished career as an academic oncologist," Stark said. "There is a need in this community for someone doing translational research."

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