A prominent Queen’s researcher has been recognized for her outstanding contributions to gynecologic oncology in Canada and abroad.
Elizabeth Eisenhauer recently received the Gynecologic Oncologists of Canada’s Presidential Medal for her research in gynecologic cancers. The award is the GOC’s highest honour.
“I was deeply honoured to have received this award,” says Dr. Eisenhauer. “Over the years I have been fortunate to collaborate with many oncologists in Canada and internationally on trials of new treatments for women with ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. It is gratifying that some of these studies have contributed to improved outcomes for patients.”
Dr. Eisenhauer has spent her entire academic life at Queen’s — first as a student, then as a doctor and cancer researcher in the NCIC Clinical Trials Group. But even though she’s been here for nearly four decades, she says there’s nothing monotonous about the work she does.
“It’s never the same from one year to the next,” she says. “It would be hard to imagine a job that would be as challenging or rewarding.”
Dr. Eisenhauer graduated from Queen’s medical school in 1976 and did post-graduate training in internal medicine and hematology. Her focus soon turned to cancer, and in 1982 she joined the NCIC Clinical Trials Group as Director of the Investigational New Drug Program, where she’s been ever since. She even served as NCIC president from 2006-09.
At NCIC CTG, Dr. Eisenhauer oversees clinical trials in new cancer drugs. NCIC CTG is the core of a national research group that undertakes studies in cancer patients. In addition, she has been involved in working to improve the way those studies are designed and conducted.
Some of the drugs she has studied over the years include paclitaxel, now used as part of primary treatment in ovarian cancer, gemcitabine, now used as part of standard treatment in lung cancer, and various other drugs now making their way into clinical practice.
A decade ago, Dr. Eisenhauer donated $3.7 million to Queen’s, the university to which she has dedicated much of her life. The contribution established the Edith Eisenhauer chair in clinical cancer research and helped to fund the Cancer Research Institute building.
“This is exciting work. It’s based at Queen’s but the work is done everywhere, across the country and around the world,” says Dr. Eisenhauer. “Queen’s is the ’hub’ of the research program that makes it all happen.”
Dr. Eisenhauer adds that the “culture of collaborative research” in the field of oncology is what makes this work so successful.
“You know you get there faster if you work together,” she says.