UCSF Cancer Specialist Recognized with Luminary Award for Gastrointestinal Cancers

Alan P. Venook, MD, a renowned expert in colorectal and liver cancers, has been announced as one of the winners of the 2022 Luminary Awards in Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancers. Venook is being recognized for his achievements in the clinical practice and research of gastrointestinal cancers. 

Venook is a gastrointestinal oncologist who holds the Madden Family Distinguished Professorship in Medical Oncology and Translational Research at UC San Francisco (UCSF). He leads the gastrointestinal oncology program and is the Shorenstein Associate Director for Program Development at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (HDFCCC). 

Venook is an expert in clinical trial design for gastrointestinal cancers and his research focuses on treating liver tumors with targeted approaches, including infusional chemotherapy and biological agents. Over the course of his career, Venook has shared his expertise in clinical trial methodology and drug development with academic, industry and National Cancer Institute collaborators. He has participated in the design and interpretation of many studies, offering UCSF patients cutting edge care while trying to advance the field, and more than a dozen of those studies have identified new treatment paradigms and treatments for cancer patients.  

“I am both gratified and humbled by this wonderful honor, as it is in recognition of years of seeking the balance between caring for patients and trying to advance the field for all,” said Venook. “Cancer care and cancer research require a team approach and this work would not have been possible without our patients and their families, not to mention my talented and dedicated colleagues at UCSF and around the world. But we still have a lot work ahead of us.” 

Venook led CALGB/SWOG 80405, a study that explored the optimal combination treatment for patients with advanced colorectal cancer. His analysis of patient outcomes in that study led him to propose that the “sight of origin” of colon cancer made a significant difference in the effectiveness of certain treatments and affected patient survival. This observation of “tumor sidedness” was proven correct and is now a consideration when planning treatment for patients with colon cancer.  

Venook earned his medical degree at UCSF in 1980. Following an internship at UCSF, he spent two years in the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. He completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of California, Davis, and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at UCSF.  

He was the founding chair of the NCI’s Hepatobiliary Task Force and chaired the Gastrointestinal Cancer Committee of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology from 2010-2017. He has trained, mentored or co-mentored many of the thought leaders in the GI Oncology field. 

The Luminary Awards in GI Cancers celebrate highly accomplished individuals for their lifetime achievements in finding cures and improving the lives of those affected by this group of cancers. Through research and advocacy, this year’s winners have dedicated their careers to bettering the GI cancers community. 

Venook and his fellow inductees will be honored at the annual Luminary Awards reception on Nov. 17 at the Westin Georgetown in Washington, D.C. The awards ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 13th Annual Ruesch Center Symposium. 

“We are honored to work with The Ruesch Center to celebrate the individuals who have made such remarkable developments in the lives of patients with gastrointestinal cancers,” said Robert M. Goldsmith, vice president, sales of OncLive® at MJH Life Sciences®. “The winners of the 2022 Luminary Awards are very deserving, and we are grateful for their dedication to the field.” 

About UCSF:The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is exclusively focused on the health sciences and is dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF Health, which serves as UCSF’s primary academic medical center, includes top-ranked specialty hospitals and other clinical programs, and has affiliations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF School of Medicine also has a regional campus in Fresno. Learn more at ucsf.edu or see our Fact Sheet.  

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