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Massey presents inaugural awards for excellence during Walter Lawrence Research Retreat

Jul 11, 2023

Andrew Poklepovic and Liz Boyd presented with award Paula M. Fracasso, M.D., Ph.D. (left) presents Andrew Poklepovic, M.D. (middle) with the Clinician of the Year award and Liz Boyd, R.N. (far right), with the Most Valuable Clinical Professional of the Year award.

During VCU Massey Cancer Center’s Walter Lawrence Research Retreat on June 29-30, the cancer center launched a new series of annual awards acknowledging staff members, researchers and clinicians who consistently demonstrate an outstanding level of excellence in their work.

There were four awards presented during this year’s retreat, including Clinician of the Year, Most Valuable Academic Professional of the Year, Most Valuable Clinical Professional of the Year and Scientist of the Year. The awards were determined based on nominations by cancer center peers.

Andrew Poklepovic, M.D., associate director for clinical research and medical oncologist at Massey and a professor of internal medicine at the VCU School of Medicine, received the Clinician of the Year award.

“Dr. Poklepovic is an exceptional model for all medical providers through his willingness to collaborate, as well as his generosity in mentoring students and fellows,” said Harry Bear, M.D., Ph.D., a surgical oncologist and member of the Developmental Therapeutics research program at Massey. “I can think of no clinician more worthy of this award.”

In the previous year, Poklepovic was individually responsible for enrolling more than 40 patients on clinical trials at Massey.

“Clinical care is my passion, and clinical trials offer us the ability to provide tomorrow’s treatments to cancer patients today,” Poklepovic said. “For each and every patient, I think about how can I find the right trial for them to maximize their chances of being treated with the next breakthrough.”

Michelle Lin receives award Robert A. Winn, M.D., presents Michelle Lin, M.B.A., chief administrative officer and associate director of administration with the Most Valuable Academic Professional of the Year award.

Before presenting her with the award, Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman Chair in Oncology at Massey, paraphrased a quote from Winston Churchill to represent the courage and leadership that earned Lin the distinction. 

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. Success is never final. Failure is not fatal. It’s courage that counts,” Winn said of Lin’s persistence and dedication to her role at Massey. “I would add that it’s also the courage to show up every day.”

Lin said she is deeply honored and humbled to receive this award.

“I am grateful for the support of Dr. Winn, my colleagues, students and mentors, who have inspired and challenged me throughout my academic journey,” Lin said.

Liz Boyd, R.N., a registered nurse in the head and neck cancer clinic at Massey, was given the Most Valuable Clinical Professional of the Year award.

“Her amazing dedication to our patients and her professionalism is not only recognized by our patients but her colleagues as well,” said Paula Fracasso, M.D., Ph.D., Massey’s deputy director and vice president of the cancer service line at VCU Health. “I can’t say enough about her importance to the service of our patients.”

Boyd said she was completely taken by surprise when presented with this award, adding that she thinks many nurses often don’t focus on what possible accolades they could receive and are more focused on providing high-quality patient care.

“I am lucky to work in a cancer center that provides state-of-the-art care to our patients and even luckier to work with an incredible ENT surgical oncology team whom I consider family,” Boyd said. “The entire Massey team is amazing and I am so proud to be a part of it.”

Faber receives Scientist of the Year award Anthony Faber, Ph.D. (right), is presented with the award for Scientist of the Year by Saïd Sebti, associate director for basic research.

Anthony Faber, Ph.D., co-leader of the Developmental Therapeutics research program and Natalie N. and John R. Congdon, Sr. Endowed Chair in Cancer Research at Massey, as well as an associate professor in the Phillips Institute for Oral Health Research at the VCU School of Dentistry, earned the award for Scientist of the Year.

“Driven by passion and fueled by intellect and a deep sense of empathy, Dr. Faber’s groundbreaking work has the potential to save a lot of cancer lives,” said Said Sebti, Ph.D., associate director for basic research and the Lacy Family Chair in Cancer Research at Massey and a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the VCU School of Medicine.

"It's always rewarding getting acknowledged by your colleagues, especially in such a dynamic and exciting time for Massey,” said Faber. “My work is purely a reflection of the efforts and talent of my tremendously talented collaborative team and I am really looking forward to what we are going to accomplish in the next few years, particularly in light of some of our recent laboratory discoveries and their translational potential to treat cancer patients."

Written by: Blake Belden

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