Dear ASCO Members,
This week, ASCO and the oncology community at large lost an inspirational leader, an exemplary physician, and a true gentleman. It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of John R. Durant, MD, former ASCO President and ASCO's first Executive Vice President. Dr. Durant died at his home in Birmingham, Alabama, on Sunday, October 28, and will be laid to rest November 1, near his home.
Dr. Durant's generous nature and steadfast commitment to improving the lives of people with cancer were reflected throughout his career. His volunteer work with ASCO culminated in his serving as the Society's President for the 1985-1986 term. His fondness for ASCO continued; 10 years later, Dr. Durant joined ASCO on a more permanent basis as the Society's first-ever Executive Vice President. The responsibility that Dr. Durant took on during that time was no small feat. The Society had just begun a transition from contract management to handling its own administrative activities, and Dr. Durant quickly recruited a senior staff of talented individuals and established the dynamic headquarters office in Alexandria, Virginia, transforming ASCO into the world-class organization that it is today.
The growth of the organization during his five-year tenure speaks for itself: under his leadership, ASCO's membership increased by almost 50%; the number of ASCO's programs, services, and products grew exponentially; and the Society's revenues doubled. He also envisioned specific, ambitious guidelines for the future of the organization, developing a strategic plan to outline our mission and vision and provide steps to achieve it. Because of the groundwork Dr. Durant laid, the Society has realized his vision of becoming the world's leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer.
Prior to joining ASCO, Dr. Durant served as Founding Director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, where he championed the important role that multidisciplinary cancer care and research play in caring for the whole patient, and advancing translational and clinical research. He also previously served as President and CEO of the Fox Chase Cancer Center.
Dr. Durant has left an indelible mark on the Society. Everything we do today in ASCO is built on the foundation that he established, and each of us who enjoyed the privilege of working with him will remember the passion he showed for his work, the patients he served, his family, and our organization. We will never forget the impact he had on ASCO, and will truly miss him.
Allen Lichter, MD
Chief Executive Officer, ASCO