Dan Theodorescu, MD, PhD, director of the NCI-designated University of Colorado Cancer Center and professor of Urology and Pharmacology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine was awarded the Barringer Medal this past Saturday from the American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons for his distinguished contributions to urology.
“I am honored beyond measure to receive this award from an institution that I greatly respect and admire,” Theodorescu says. Every year, the Barringer Medal is awarded to a urologic surgeon for outstanding contributions to the field. The first award in 1955 went to Charles Huggins, the only urologist to ever have won a Nobel Prize, for his discovery of the hormonal sensitivity of tumors. Traditionally, the black-tie award presentation opens with pictures of the recipient as a child.
“I was surprised when I recognized myself in the first picture!” says Theodorescu, though he mentions he found it a bit suspicious when his wife, who was party to the surprise, insisted on joining him in San Francisco for this year’s annual meeting.
“I’m frugal, so usually I skip the black tie event, but this year I had to adjust other travel plans to include it since Diane wanted to attend,” he says. “I guess she and the awards committee had been plotting this for months…”
Dr. Theodorescu is an internationally recognized expert in the biology and treatment of bladder cancer. In addition to directing the CU Cancer Center, Theodorescu manages an active translational molecular biology lab focused on identifying the mechanisms leading to bladder cancer growth and spread and their potential applications to patients with this disease.
Theodorescu has been involved in the development and testing of COXEN (CO-eXpression ExtrapolatioN), a radical new personalized medicine strategy that aims to predict which tumors will be sensitive to which drugs based on genetic analysis of tumor samples. He also led the team that in 2014 described the first drug against Ral, an oncogene that contributes to drive several cancer types including pancreas, lung, colon, bladder and prostate.
Created in 1954, the award honors Benjamin S. Barringer, the first chief of urology at what is now the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Barringer was an early innovator of brachytherapy in 1915, in which radium needles were used to treat prostate cancer.
“I see the award not as a pat on the back but as incentive to work even harder toward understanding the causes and best treatments for cancer, which has been my childhood dream,” Theodorescu says.