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Health Center’s Runowicz now heading American Cancer Society

by Maureen McGuire - November 28, 2005

Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Health Center and a nationally prominent expert in gynecologic oncology, became President of the American Cancer Society on Nov. 17, during the society’s annual board of directors and national assembly meeting in Los Angeles.

“It is both rewarding and humbling to assume the presidency of an organization that is making a real and tangible difference in the lives of millions of Americans touched by cancer,” says Runowicz. “Few organizations can match the American Cancer Society’s organizational breadth, grassroots volunteer capacity, and wealth of public health experience.”

The role of the president is to act as the lead medical and scientific spokesperson and advocate for the society. It is a one-year term. Runowicz previously served as president-elect and second vice president of the society. She has been involved with the national board for more than 20 years.

The American Cancer Society was founded in 1913 and now has 14 regional divisions and local officers in 3,400 communities, involving millions of volunteers across the U.S. It is the leading volunteer-based organization dedicated to the elimination of cancer as a major health problem.

Runowicz, the first breast cancer survivor to become president of the Society, has devoted her career to advances in the treatment, early detection, and prevention of cancer. She has held leadership roles with other national medical organizations, and was the first female president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.

In 2004, she was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the National Cancer Advisory Board, and was recognized by the American Medical Women’s Association as a “local legend.” Runowicz currently serves on the National Cancer Institute’s Scientific Review Group and is involved with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

She has been chair of the Gynecologic Committee of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project, a leading national organization in large-scale cancer research since 1994.

“Carolyn Runowicz is a highly accomplished, widely respected physician and educator,” says Dr. Peter J. Deckers, executive vice president for health affairs.

Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center, became president of the American Cancer Society on Nov. 17.
Dr. Carolyn Runowicz, director of the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UConn Health Center, became president of the American Cancer Society on Nov. 17.
Photo by Rodale Press

“She is a national leader in promoting all facets of biomedical research to facilitate a better understanding of tumor biology and evidenced-based, multidisciplinary cancer care. She is a thoughtful and persuasive advocate for the early detection and prevention of cancer as well as the discovery of new therapies through clinical research.”

In 2004, Runowicz co-authored a book about advances in cancer prevention titled, The Answer to Cancer, with her husband Dr. Sheldon Cherry, a prominent ob/gyn from New York City. The book provides information to help men and women understand their personal risk profiles, and gives science-based examples of concrete steps people can take to reduce their risk.

Along with The Answer to Cancer, Runowicz has written other books including, To Be Alive: A Woman’s Guide to a Full Life After Cancer; The Menopause Book: A Guide to Women’s Health After 40, also co-authored with Dr. Cherry; and Women and Cancer: A Thorough and Compassionate Resource for Patients and Their Families.

A Willimantic native, Runowicz is a UConn graduate. She earned her medical degree from Thomas Jefferson Medical College and trained in obstetrics and gynecology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Medical Center. She was a Galloway Fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and also underwent fellowship training in gynecologic oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Medical Center.

Before joining the UConn Health Center in 2003, she was a professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and vice- chair of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

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