Dr. Charis Eng Receives Medal of Honor from American Cancer Society


Charis Eng, MD, PhD, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Genomic Medicine Institute, has received the American Cancer Society’s Medal of Honor, the organization’s highest award. An internationally recognized physician-scientist in the cancer genetics field, Dr. Eng is among five honorees to receive the award at the ceremony in Washington, D.C. on October 18.

The ACS Medal of Honor is presented to individuals who have made outstanding and valuable contributions in the field of cancer. This year’s other recipients are The Honorable Joseph R. Biden Jr., Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD, Jennifer Doudna, PhD, and Michael J. Thun, MD. Past honorees include U.S. President and First Lady George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush; U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy; George Papanicolau, MD, inventor of the Pap test; Judah Folkman, MD, a leading researcher in the field of antiangiogenesis; and Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD.

“Charis is a true pioneer in cancer genomics, especially integrating the study of genetics into clinical care,” said Serpil Erzurum, MD, Chair, Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. “As a physician-scientist for over 20 years, she has dedicated her career to patient-oriented research in genetics and genomic medicine. She also has an unparalleled passion for mentoring the next generation of physician-scientists, PhD, clinical researchers and healthcare leaders.”

Dr. Eng is being honored for clinical research—contributions, specifically in genomic medicine research, which have significantly improved the clinical outcome of patients. In her dual role as Founding Chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute and Founding Director of the Center for Personalized Genetic Healthcare, she continues to implement evidence-based genetic- and genomics-enabled personalized healthcare that has enhanced care for patients at genetic risk of disease nationally and globally. “Through educating physicians and promoting genetic counseling and smart clinical management,” Dr. Eng says, “we can improve early diagnosis and develop the most targeted cancer treatment possible for individual patients.”

Her scientific and clinical accomplishments have had a broad and far-reaching impact in cancer genetics. She was the first to discover a link between mutations in the cancer suppressor gene PTEN and Cowden and other syndromes, which predispose patients to several types of cancer. Through her work, Dr. Eng is laying the groundwork for the next generation of cancer treatment by identifying and testing for genetic risk factors, aimed at speeding specific findings into clinical settings.

Dr. Eng also holds the Sondra J. and Stephen R. Hardis Endowed Chair in Cancer Genomic Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, has published more than 500 peer-reviewed articles and has been principal investigator on more than $50 million in lifetime research funding, comprising a diverse portfolio including federal grants, multi-investigator grants and consortia, foundation funding and philanthropy.

Dr. Eng has earned numerous honors, including the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award. She was named an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor in 2009. She was elected to the National Academy of Medicine as well as the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Association of American Physicians.

In addition to her leadership at Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Eng has served on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society.

Dr. Eng earned her MD and PhD from University of Chicago and completed residency training in Internal Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital/Harvard Medical School. She did her fellowship training in Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School and in Clinical Cancer Genetics at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Royal Marsden NHS Trust in the U.K., as well as postdoctoral training in Human Cancer Genomics at University of Cambridge.

Story adapted from Cleveland Clinic Newsroom.