Colditz receives cancer society’s top honor

Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, a disease prevention expert at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University in St. Louis, has received the Medal of Honor for cancer control research from the American Cancer Society.

Colditz received the society’s highest award along with three other individuals and a family for their contributions to the fight against cancer.

Colditz is an internationally known leader in cancer prevention. His focus is on understanding the preventable causes of chronic disease, particularly among women, and translating that research into guidelines and policies aimed at promoting healthier lives through prevention.

Colditz came to Washington University School of Medicine from Harvard University in 2006 as the Niess-Gain Professor of Surgery and associate director of Prevention and Control at the Siteman Cancer Center. He also is an epidemiologist and professor of medicine. Since his arrival, he has broadened the scope of prevention research, education and community outreach and raised the profile of the university’s public-health initiatives.

In addition, he has recruited new faculty members whose research focuses on cancer’s link to physical activity, obesity and other lifestyle factors, and on public health strategies to help eliminate cancer disparities. He has brought in more than $30 million in federal funding to expand the breadth and depth of cancer prevention research and programs at the School of Medicine. He also was instrumental in establishing the university’s Institute for Public Health.

Over the course of his career, Colditz has been a leader in establishing the connections between numerous lifestyle factors and the risk of cancer and other diseases. He was responsible for documenting that the use of postmenopausal hormone therapy increases the risk of breast cancer, and he documented an association between smoking and risk of stroke and total mortality among women, and between weight gain and the risk of diabetes. Other areas of his expertise include tobacco and obesity in relation to cancer.

Colditz has published more than 800 original research manuscripts, and has edited or contributed chapters to more than 100 books on cancer prevention and health promotion.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.