ASCO Mourns Tragic Loss of Board Member Dr. Arti Hurria

Nov 07, 2018

ASCO and the entire oncology community are deeply saddened by the loss of colleague, friend, ASCO Board of Directors member, and geriatric oncology leader Arti Hurria, MD, FASCO. Dr. Hurria was killed in a traffic accident on November 7, 2018. She was the George Tsai Family Chair in Geriatric Oncology, director of the Center on Cancer and Aging, co-lead of the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, vice provost of clinical faculty, a professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research, and a medical oncologist at City of Hope.

“Arti was a brilliant researcher and mentor, and a vibrant, shining light in the field of geriatric oncology. Her passing marks the loss of someone who made tremendous contributions to the field of oncology and to ASCO,” said ASCO CEO Dr. Clifford A. Hudis.

The child of physicians who immigrated from India, Dr. Hurria was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Southern California. She planned to be a physician herself from a young age—in interviews, she often related a story from her childhood, in which her father took her to a barbershop for a haircut and proudly told the barber that she was going to be a doctor.

After high school, she attended a 7-year combined medical program at Northwestern University and Northwestern Medical School. Her interest in oncology stemmed from her mother, who was a radiation oncologist, and her work with Dr. Steven T. Rosen at Northwestern. Dr. Hurria completed her internship at Beth Israel Medical Center, her residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and her fellowships in geriatrics and oncology at the Harvard Geriatrics Fellowship Program and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), respectively.

After her fellowship, Dr. Hudis and Dr. Larry Norton recruited Dr. Hurria to the Breast Medicine Service at MSKCC. She often acknowledged the importance of their mentorship, along with other eminent physicians such as Dr. Harvey J. Cohen, Dr. Hyman B. Muss, Dr. Jimmie C. Holland, and Dr. George J. Bosl.

“I always felt privileged to be able to mentor Arti. She taught me more than I taught her,” Dr. Hudis said.

Early in her career at MSKCC, Dr. Hurria worked with Dr. Bosl on a P20 grant integrating cancer care and geriatric medicine in a comprehensive cancer center. The grant built on her early interest in oncology and geriatrics, and laid the foundation for her future, in an understudied area where there was a clear need for more knowledge.

“Older adults were a vulnerable population because they had been so unrepresented in clinical trials,” Dr. Hurria said in a previous interview with ASCO Connection. “When you tried to make treatment decisions with them, you were often looking at data derived from younger patients.”

Following her time at MSKCC, she returned to Southern California to join City of Hope and lead its Center on Cancer and Aging. It is impossible to overstate the profound impact she has had on geriatric oncology and the improved care of older patients with cancer, shaping the nascent field through her research, clinical care, administrative leadership, and mentoring.

She had been recognized for her work with a Young Investigator Award and Career Development Award from ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation, and in 2013 she was presented with ASCO’s B.J. Kennedy Award and Lecture for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology. Her honors were manifold and well deserved, including the International Society of Geriatric Oncology’s Paul Calabresi Award, the Paul B. Beeson Career Development Award in Aging (K23), and the Frederick Stenn Memorial Award for Humanism in Medicine.

But in spite of the many awards and recognitions for her individual contributions to the field, she was deeply devoted to team science and collaboration. In a past interview with ASCO Connection, when asked about her personal motto, Dr. Hurria cited the proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”

Her strong belief in the power of community was reflected in her work within ASCO, where she was extraordinarily generous with her time, energy, and expertise since joining in 2001. At the time of Dr. Hurria’s passing, she was a member of the Board of Directors and active on several committees, including the Cancer Communications Committee, and numerous expert panels related to geriatric oncology and breast cancer. She served as past chair of the Professional Development and Cancer Research Committees, was on the Journal of Clinical Oncology editorial board, and was an associate editor for Cancer.Net, ASCO’s patient information website. She participated in ASCO’s Leadership Development Program and Education Council, and was active in the Society’s efforts supporting women in oncology.

In addition to her work within ASCO, she was an active and enthusiastic volunteer in a number of organizations. She was the chair and founder of the Cancer and Aging Research Group, co-chair for the Alliance Cancer in the Elderly Committee, past president of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology, and past chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Older Adult Oncology Committee, among others.

Always, her work was driven by her genuine connection to the patients she cared for. In a past interview with ASCO Connection, when asked what she would say to young physicians considering a career in oncology, Dr. Hurria answered, “The experience that comes with holding a patient’s hand during a cancer diagnosis is one that I don’t think is paralleled anywhere else in medicine, and I would welcome young doctors into the field of oncology and into the field of geriatric oncology in particular. It’s a beautiful way to live one’s life, caring for such an incredible group of patients.”

Our hearts are with Dr. Hurria’s husband and daughter, her patients and colleagues, and the many people around the world who knew, admired, and loved her. She will be profoundly missed. 

ASCO and ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation have established a fund in Dr. Hurria’s name to endow a Young Investigator Award in geriatric oncology. Learn more and donate.

This article has been updated to reflect the date of Dr. Hurria's passing; she died on November 7, 2018.

Comments

Giridhar Santebennur, MD

Nov, 07 2018 8:22 PM

Extremely saddened to hear tragic news about such an accomplished oncologist and researcher!

My deepest sympathies to her family.

Rest In Peace!

David Michael Waterhouse, MD, MPH

Nov, 07 2018 8:43 PM

My deepest sympathies to Arti's husband and daughter. 

I was proveledged to work with Arti on ASCO's Clinical Research Committee and her passionate advocacy for geriatric patients was truly inspirational.  She will be missed in so many ways.  We lost an accomplished researcher, respected mentor,  and a genuin humanitarian.

Prayers, 

Dave

Jurema Telles O Lima, MD

Nov, 08 2018 3:38 AM

we are deeply appalled by this early loss for all and for oncogeriatry. in the last ASCO I last saw her in the group of women oncologists - talking about the importance of supporting ourselves in the challenges. She will always be an inspiration.

Gouri Shankar Bhattacharyya, MD, PhD, MBBS, MNAMS, MRCP

Nov, 08 2018 5:36 AM

"She lived every moment, She lived Beyond words She Left behind a legacy that makes GOODBYE hard. Stay Well Where ever you are, rest in peace

Ilkhomidin Karimovich Niyazov, PhD

Nov, 08 2018 7:59 AM

Rest in peace!

Suresh S. Ramalingam, MD

Nov, 08 2018 9:23 AM

Arti's death is a major loss to the entire Oncology Community. I had the privilege of knowing her since her fellowship days. She was a role-model in every way; intelligent, caring, humble, and passionate about cancer research and patient care. Her contributions transformed the field of Geriatric Oncology. She mentored many researchers along the way. Though her legacy will live on for a long time, someone very special has been taken away from us. My thoughts and prayers to her family.

Laeton Pang, MD

Nov, 08 2018 10:38 AM

Shocked and saddened to hear of Arti's tragic passing. She came to Hawaii and spoke at our Hawaii Society of Clinical Oncology symposium on geriatric oncology in 2015. She was a like a shining star in oncology whose passion and compassion for patients was evident in the way she spoke and conducted herself. Heartfelt condolences to her husband Dr. Thomas Lee ,their daughter Serena and deepest sympathies to the oncology staffers that worked alongside her. We collectively share in your grief. Know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many. Laeton J. Pang MD MPH FACR FACRO

Tracy Ruegg

Nov, 08 2018 11:24 AM

This is so horrible. I only met her this summer when I participated in the 3rd CARG R25 Geron Onc workshop however Dr. Hurria made a profound impact me with her vibrant enthusiam for research & the care for older adults with cancer. She really did seem to have a kind gentle affinity for older adults even at such a young age and what a brain she had!!  I only hope to develop half the intellect she had.

RIP Arti Hurria!  God Bless your family. 

Tracy Ruegg MS APRN ANP-BC AOCN

Philip Schulman, MD

Nov, 08 2018 2:17 PM

I met Arti through my association with MSKCC and Dr. S. Lichtman. She was truly a shing light i oncology and Geriatrics. I wish her family only the best and strength.

Suanna Bruinooge

Nov, 08 2018 2:49 PM

Arti's compassion and drive to improve life for her patients was palpable. She also was a mentor leader, helping those around her advance their own work and recognizing the contributions of others. I'm still in shock and so grateful that I had the opportunity to work with such an outstanding person.

Nancy Sharma, MD

Nov, 08 2018 11:43 PM

This is a profound loss for oncology community. She was so accomplished yet a very humble person. Her courage will always guide her mentees.

Vijay Chaudhary, MD, MPH

Nov, 09 2018 1:19 AM

So terribly sorry to hear about, my deepest sympathies to her husband and family. World lost a great researcher, mentor, patient advocate and above all an extremely kind-hearted person. May her soul rest in peace.

Larissa Nekhlyudov, MD, MPH

Nov, 09 2018 9:36 AM

There are no words that can describe the shock of this news to our entire community.   Arti was an inspirational, visionary leader for geriatric oncology and patient-centered care.  She was kind, thoughtful, and generous with her time and intellect, and was a remarkable role model for women in academic medicine. My deepest condolences go out to her family, friends, colleagues and patients.  Her bright smile will be greatly missed!

Mihaela C. Munteanu, MS

Nov, 10 2018 10:30 AM

Very saddened by this news.  Extremely huge loss in oncology patient care, mentorship, and research.  Sincere condolences to Arti’s immediate family and friends. 

Ajeet Gajra, MD, FACP

Nov, 11 2018 6:19 AM

A selfless mentor, a visionary, humble despite being extraordinarily accomplished, Arti had amazing grace in how she dealt with all things good and bad. Arti achieved in her cruelly shortened life what most can only imagine to accomplish over multiple lifetimes.
Arti and her contributions to science and the medical community will live on forever. Her legacy IS the army of Healthcare professionals that she trained and mentored who will carry her work and vision into the future. But those that knew her will never stop missing her, ever.
Ajeet Gajra

Ravi D. Rao, MD

Nov, 11 2018 5:06 PM

I listened to few talks she gave at several meetings, and was always impressed by her intellect and hard work. A sad loss. Hope the family is doing ok..

Jean Pierre Droz, MD, PhD

Nov, 13 2018 11:02 AM

Arti was the most impressive woman, doctor and leader in Oncology and particularly in Geriatric Oncology I met. Her death is a huge loss for all of our medical community. She wil stay in my, in our heart. Rest in peace.

Amy Fries

Nov, 14 2018 8:47 AM

I am so sad to hear this. My deepest condolences to her family. What a terrible loss for everyone.

June M. McKoy

Nov, 15 2018 6:27 PM

 “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together."

Arti epitomzed this personal motto. She was all about the team; all about the other person; all about helping. We fell into being friends...and I cannot remember when. If you were to push me hard, I would say we've always been friends; all our lives; all my life.  I am still in tears...even as I write this comment; it is hard to not see her again. I am comforted in knowing that her legacy will live through us who continue the work she has started.

Until I see you again my friend; rest in peace.

June M. McKoy, MD MPH JD MBA

Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center

 

Nina J. Karlin, MD, FACP

Nov, 18 2018 1:25 PM

Arti made the world a better place.  This is profound loss.  My sincerest condolences to her husband, daughter, parents.


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