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Promise and Progress - Theodore DeWeese Named Inaugural Kimmel Professor

Promise & Progress - A Spectrum of Achievements

Theodore DeWeese Named Inaugural Kimmel Professor

Date: January 15, 2015

From left: Ronald Peterson, President of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and Executive Vice President of Johns Hopkins Medicine; Paul B.Rothman, Dean of the Medical Faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine: Caroline Kimmel; Sidney Kimmel; William Nelson, Director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center; and Ronald Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University. Seated is Theodore DeWeese, Inaugural Kimmel Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Sciences.

Businessman and philanthropist Sidney Kimmel visited the Kimmel Cancer Center on Nov. 6, 2014, to participate in the dedication of the Kimmel Professor of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences. Theodore DeWeese was named the inaugural recipient.

The gift to establish the professorship is the most recent in a series of donations to the Cancer Center, which began with his historic $150 million gift in 2001 that led to the naming of the Center in his honor.

“Your generosity continues to amaze and inspire. With Kimmel Scholars putting their mark on cancer research, great institutions like ours that you have supported, and now this incredible professorship, your philanthropy is what makes cancer a curable disease,” said Kimmel Cancer Center Director William Nelson. He called Kimmel’s continuing support an instrument for stability. 

Endowed professorships are critically important to the ongoing mission of Johns Hopkins University as they provide lasting support for the most talented faculty members.  They are recognized as the university’s highest honor to its faculty.  “The importance of an endowed professorship cannot be overstated,” says Nelson.  “It is often the critical element in helping us have the very best people come here and succeed here.”

The formal dedication of the professorship included a presentation by Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, to Johns Hopkins University President Ronald Daniels.  Rothman told the audience of more than 100 faculty, staff, and invited guests, that Kimmel’s generosity had allowed Cancer Center experts to push the boundaries of science.  “Having been at Johns Hopkins for just two years, I can speak from the perspective of being outside the institution and inside,” said Rothman.  “The Kimmel Cancer Center is unquestionably one of the leading institutions in the world helping to prevent and cure cancer.”

In accepting the professorship on behalf of the university, President Daniels said Kimmel’s contributions have transformed the fight against cancer. Kimmel is one of a very small group of American philanthropists who have turned over more than half of their wealth to charitable causes. Of the more than $850 million he has donated, most—some $550 million—has gone to cancer research. 

DeWeese, who in 2003 was selected as the first director of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences, was named the inaugural Kimmel Professor in recognition of his many research, clinical, and teaching accomplishments.   Under his guidance, the department has earned a reputation as one of the very best in the world. 

“As a researcher, clinician, and academician, Ted has championed interdisciplinary research that has truly transformed his discipline,” says Daniels.   “His efforts have kept our department strong and ensured it has remained at the forefront of innovation.”

“Ted has had an incredible career.  I have great pride in having someone with such enormous skill and deep compassion be the first to hold the professorship bearing my name,” says Kimmel.  “This is an honor I could have never imagined growing up as poor kid in South Philadelphia. Coming back to Johns Hopkins each time is rejuvenating for me.  The work done here and the results achieved leave me in awe.”

After being installed as the inaugural Kimmel Professor, DeWeese recognized the faculty and staff of his department and thanked Kimmel.  “Many people beyond me have played a role in earning this honor. Whatever success I have had is shared by the talented faculty and staff in our department,” he said.

“The gifts Mr. Kimmel has given in support of cancer care and research, the programs he has started, and the trainees he has supported are innumerable.  Yet the nature of his giving is that they all have direct relationship to patients,” said DeWeese.  “To have my name forever linked with his is humbling.  His contributions are given with hope and the recognition that some patient, somewhere, someday, is going to benefit.  Because of him, cancer research will be improved and advanced, suffering will be relieved, and ultimately a cure will be found.”


The Kimmel Scholar

During his visit, Mr. Kimmel had the opportunity to meet with a 2014 Kimmel Scholar, , a young researcher who has developed a mouse model to study cell division and how it goes awry in cancer. 

Holland says the process of cell division occurs millions of times in our bodies each day as old cells are replaced by new cells.  Errors in cell division are one of the hallmarks of cancer.  Holland is using the mouse model to mimic these errors and study how they contribute to cancer development and growth.  He hopes to decipher ways to specifically destroy cells undergoing abnormal cell division while leaving normal cells unharmed.

“I feel privileged to have received this award,” says Holland. “The resources that the Kimmel Scholar foundation provides are benefitting the whole lab and allowing us to pursue risky, but important research that has the promise to have a real impact on human disease.”

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