Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD

Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD

In a meeting Thursday of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, CU Cancer Center Director, Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, was named Distinguished Professor, the highest honor awarded to faculty across the CU system’s four campuses.

“With a deep commitment to research and an even deeper sense of compassion for his patients, Dr. Theodorescu is redefining healthcare,” said Don Elliman, Jr., Chancellor for the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

CU Distinguished Professors are faculty members who demonstrate exemplary performance in research or creative work, a record of excellence in classroom teaching and supervision of individual learning, and outstanding service to the profession, the university and its affiliates.

“He is a rare scientist who is as creative as he is analytical,” Elliman continued, describing Theodorescu’s innovative strategies to target cancer using not only new drugs, but entirely new classes of drugs that manipulate cancer cells in ways never before tried.

“I began dreaming of doing cancer research when I was ten years old and a favorite aunt died of the disease,” Theodorescu said. “It’s been a long road; a road with victories and also some challenges and obstacles.”

In an emotional speech, Theodorescu thanked the mentors, scientific collaborators and family members who have helped and supported his career. While acknowledging that he could never thank everyone, Theodorescu specifically cited those in attendance including Don Elliman, Tom Cech, David Ross, Jim Costello, James DeGregori, Tom Flaig, Ron Sokol, Allison Lake, Rod Page, Pat Steadman, Larry Gold, Dick Johnston and Gary and Barb Reece.

“Lastly, I want to thank my children, Thomas and Claire, for being my biggest fans and believing in my dream, and for never making me feel really guilty for missing soccer games and school events and not being around as much as other dads,” Theodorescu said. “Twenty years ago, I went on a blind date and the person I met turned out to be the love of my life, the rock that our family is based on and my best friend, Diane.”

The award recognizes Theodorescu’s scientific achievements, his work as a mentor to students and early-career scientists, his leadership at CU Cancer Center and in shaping national cancer policy, and his service to the cancer community including as a reviewer of grants and an editor of academic journals.

Theodorescu closed saying, “One of my mentors told me this: follow the dream, don’t listen to the naysayers, and never give up.”