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American Cancer Society Honors Individuals’ Distinguished Achievement in Cancer and Volunteer Leadership

ATLANTA— November 16, 2012— Four Americans whose exceptional talents and commitment have helped make progress in the fight against cancer today received prestigious awards from the American Cancer Society. At a luncheon ceremony at its Nationwide Volunteer and Staff Leadership Summit, the Society honored Barbara J. Berkman, D.S.W./ Ph.D., L.I.C.S.W and David S. Rosenthal, M.D. with Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Awards, and Sigurd Normann, M.D., Ph.D., with the National Volunteer Leadership Award. Also present at the ceremony was Laurence H. Baker, D.O. who received the Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Award in 2011, however was unable to attend the ceremony last November.

“We honor the service and accomplishments of these exceptional individuals, as well as the fine example they have set for others who are involved in the ongoing fight against cancer,” said John R. Seffrin, Ph.D., chief executive officer, American Cancer Society. “As their work proves, there are many varied ways to make a real impact to reduce the burden of cancer.”

Barbara Berkman, D.S.W./ Ph.D., L.I.C.S.W., was honored with the Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Award for her tireless research, practice, and advocacy of social work and its importance in caring for cancer patients and their families. Among many achievements, she is responsible for advancements in the assessment instruments oncology social workers use to identify patients and families who are at risk for poor psychosocial adjustment to changes in health status. Her many published books, book chapters, and scholarly articles also help to inform the training, faculty, and practice skills that are necessary to meet future challenges in oncology social work.

Dr. Berkman is the Helen Rehr / Ruth Fizdale Professor of Health and Mental Health at Columbia University School of Social Work, and Adjunct Professor, Department of Community and Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine. She is a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

David S. Rosenthal, M.D. received the Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Award in recognition of his career-spanning dedication to the fight against cancer and his exemplary volunteer service at every level of the Society. He is a past president of both the former Massachusetts Division and the American Cancer Society, Inc., and has played many active roles over the decades. Among his most enduring contributions has been his leadership of the effort to bring an American Cancer Society Hope Lodge to Boston. The Lodge opened in 2008, and has helped thousands of cancer patients and their caregivers save millions of dollars in lodging costs when they must receive treatment far from home. As the chairperson of the Massachusetts Coalition for a Healthy Future – a group supported by the American Cancer Society – Dr. Rosenthal helped lead the state’s groundbreaking initiatives in tobacco control during the early implementation of its new tobacco tax.

A hematologist oncologist, Dr. Rosenthal is Director of Harvard University Health Services, and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He also serves as a senior physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he is also Medical Director of the Zakim Center for Integrated Therapies.

National Volunteer Leadership Award winner Sigurd Normann, M.D., Ph.D., has been a volunteer with the American Cancer Society since 1976. Over the years he has served the Society in numerous capacities, including a term as president of the Florida Division Board of Directors (1998-1999) and national service as a delegate to the former national assembly, and as a member of the Peer Reviewers Advisory Group, the Colorectal Cancer Operations Committee, the Research Evaluation Advisory Group and the Research and Medical Affairs Committee. Dr. Normann’s remarkable service also has included active membership on many Florida Division committees over the years, including on tobacco policy, governance, field operations, public policy, and two Hope Lodge task forces. During his term as president of the Florida Division, he led the effort to create the Florida Biomedical Research Program, which channeled millions of additional dollars toward medical research.

Dr. Normann is professor emeritus at the University of Florida’s Department of Pathology, where he received the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2006.

Laurence H. Baker, D.O. received the 2011 Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Award in recognition of his tireless efforts against sarcoma, but was unable to attend the ceremony last year. Dr. Baker has more than 30 years of experience in the treatment of sarcoma and design of clinical trials for new sarcoma therapies. In April 2005, he became chairman of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG), the largest cancer clinical trials organization in the world. Its membership lists nearly 4,000 of the nation’s leading physicians and scientists in the United States and Canada. Dr. Baker is also executive director of SARC (Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration), a not-for-profit consortium which advocates for sarcoma medical research and for the conduct of clinical trials studying new treatment for sarcoma. He is a scientific consultant to the National Cancer Institute and several universities. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed literature and has authored or co-authored 50 books and/or book chapters, and is regularly invited to speak as a guest lecturer both at the national and international level.

Dr. Baker is Professor of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, Departments of Internal Medicine and Pharmacology, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of Michigan Medical School, and a longtime Society volunteer.

The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end cancer for good. As a global grassroots force of three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping you stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early, helping you get well by being there for you during and after a diagnosis, by finding cures through groundbreaking discovery and fighting back through public policy. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.8 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, an estimated 13.7 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.