Sarah S. Donaldson, MD, FASCO, Named Inaugural Recipient of Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award

Apr 08, 2016

The Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF) will present its first annual Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award to Sarah S. Donaldson, MD, FASCO, a globally recognized pediatric radiation oncology expert, inspiring professor, and devoted mentor, during the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in June.

An esteemed faculty member since 1973 and the unofficial "heart and soul of radiation oncology" at Stanford University School of Medicine, Dr. Donaldson is perhaps most widely known for her decades-long research and contributions related to improving quality of treatment and of life for children with cancer. Yet, it is her unwavering dedication to mentorship that distinguishes her as the utmost role model to young women oncologists today.

"The steady guidance of a supportive mentor who was committed to helping me flourish as a professional made a profound and lasting impression on me," said Dr. Donaldson, the Catharine and Howard Avery Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine, as well as the Associate Director of the residency program at Stanford's Department of Radiation Oncology and Chief of the Radiation Oncology service at the Packard Children's Hospital in Stanford, California. "He inspired me to offer the same encouragement to the students, residents, and junior faculty I've met in return, and ultimately led to some of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I am honored to be the first recipient of an award that calls attention to such an important part of our profession - mentorship."

Dr. Donaldson is a woman of truly remarkable achievement and has consistently paved the way for women in oncology for nearly half a century. She attended Dartmouth Medical School as one of only six women in a class of 48 students. She was the first female president of the American Board of Radiology and of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO). She was the first female radiation oncologist to serve as president of the Radiological Society of North America. She has served on the ASCO and CCF Boards of Directors, and is a member of the National Academy of Medicine/Institute of Medicine. Still, current and former colleagues name her role as mentor among the most defining of her illustrious career.

"The Women Who Conquer Cancer (WWCC) program exists to support women cancer clinicians and researchers as they establish and grow their careers, and this new Mentorship Award focuses on a meaningful part of professional development that too often goes unnoticed," said Sandra M. Swain, MD, FACP, FASCO, Medical Director of the Washington Cancer Institute, MedStar Washington Hospital Center; CCF Board Member; and Chair of the WWCC program. "In creating this award, our WWCC Advisory Group sought to recognize not only an accomplished leader but also a successful teacher, mentor, and role model who is actively nurturing some of the best and brightest minds in oncology. I can say with confidence that Dr. Donaldson embodies all that we envisioned."

Beginning in 2016, the Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award will annually honor extraordinary female leaders in oncology who have both excelled as mentors and demonstrated outstanding commitment to the professional development of women colleagues as clinicians, educators, and researchers in oncology. The addition of this award to ASCO and CCF's portfolio of Special Awards, their highest honors, underscores the critical role that mentors play in helping young oncologists build their careers and remain in the field.

"Passing skills on to the next generation of oncologists is one of the most valuable assets that we have to assist future oncologists and the patients they treat," said Julie Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, President of ASCO and Co-Chair of the Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award Selection Group. "This new award is one way to acknowledge a woman who has dedicated her time, energy, and expertise to enriching the careers of those around her for years to come."

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