Colleagues Tip Their Hats to Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO


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Dr. Lichter has preserved ASCO as a society of medical professionals, accountable to its members and true to its professional commitment to improve the lives of patients with cancer and those who toil to help their patients achieve a better life.

—Peter Paul Yu, MD
He set the tone and put in place many of the governance principles that guide ASCO today.

—Nancy Davidson, MD
He made significant contributions in the field of breast cancer radiotherapy… He’s done clinical science, been a department chair and a dean, and one of the best ever CEOs of ASCO.

—James O. Armitage, MD

After serving as ASCO’s CEO for 10 years, Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO, is stepping down. Dr. Lichter, who has been an ASCO member since 1980, has served the Society in numerous capacities. Along with his distinguished career at ASCO, Dr. Lichter is a nationally recognized radiation oncologist, receiving a Gold Medal of Radiation Oncology from the American Society for Radiation Oncology for his contributions in the development of three-dimensional radiation treatment. 

Dr. Lichter was also noted for his collaborative leadership style, which, over the years has enriched those many colleagues fortunate to work with him. The ASCO Post spoke to but a few of Dr. Lichter’s friends and colleagues, and although it is but a mere fraction, their comments are undoubtedly universally held among the oncology community. 

A Leader…

The first time I met Dr. Lichter was soon after he assumed the position of ASCO CEO and I was Chair of the ASCO Clinical Practice Committee (CPC). He came to the CPC to introduce himself and signal his desire to welcome, embrace, and work with oncologists practicing in the community setting. Shortly thereafter, he embarked on a barnstorming tour of community practices to see first hand what day-to-day struggles patients and oncology offices face. This attention to community practice and patients became a signature feature of his tenure.

Peter Yu, MD

Peter Yu, MD

Over the subsequent decade, community oncology has benefited from the launch of the Journal of Oncology Practice; the creation of the State Affiliate Council, which provides a meaningful voice to practicing oncologists and practice administrators; and the new Clinical Affairs department at ASCO. New ASCO symposia that recognize previously unmet patient needs were started: Quality, Palliative Care, and Survivorship. 

It is remarkable to me that I have been on the ASCO Board for 7 of his 10 years, during which time I have marveled at his ability to guide the Board by shaping and presenting issues for its consideration and then allowing the Board to form its own conclusions. At the same time, he has built and led a strong team of ASCO staff to execute the Board’s strategic vision. Most important, Dr. Lichter has preserved ASCO as a society of medical professionals, accountable to its members and true to its professional commitment to improve the lives of patients with cancer and those who toil to help their patients achieve a better life.”

Peter Paul Yu, MD, FASCO
Physician-in-Chief
Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute

 A Visionary…

“I had the good fortune to serve on the ASCO Board during Allen’s ASCO Presidency and then was reunited with him in 2006, when I became ASCO President-Elect and he was appointed CEO.

ASCO had just bought its current headquarters, and, among Allen’s many accomplishments, he and the ASCO team designed and occupied our office space and worked out the financing. Though I had feared I would be the President of construction delays and cost overruns, Allen brought the project in on time and under budget. 

Nancy Davidson, MD

Nancy Davidson, MD

Along with beautiful and functional new space came a decade of programmatic growth and success under Allen’s leadership (despite the great recession of 2008–2009). He set the tone and put in place many of the governance principles that guide ASCO today.

Of the many things we did together during my presidential year of 2007–2008, I am proudest of our decision to establish the “Cost of Cancer Task Force,” which has evolved into the “Value of Cancer Care Task Force.” We did this in the face of great concern and considerable resistance because we thought that oncologists, as advocates for its patients and stewards of our health-care resources, need to be at the forefront of this vital area. 

Oncologists and patients everywhere are indebted to Allen and Evie for their decade of leadership--they leave ASCO and its stakeholders in a far better place. 

Nancy Davidson, MD
Director, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

And A ‘Good Guy’ Too

James O. Armitage, MD

James O. Armitage, MD

Allen has been a friend of mine for a long time. We worked together as editors with Marty Abeloff on the book that became Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. Allen is a really good guy, which says a lot, but he’s also a very effective person in multiple disciplines. Some people might not know that Allen is a famous clinical scientist, which is what he was known for before his leadership roles at ASCO. He made significant contributions in the field of breast cancer radiotherapy, helping to establish standard-of-care practice, which is lumpectomy with radiation. He’s done clinical science, been a department chair and a dean, and one of the best ever CEOs of ASCO. But he’s a University of Michigan football fan, which I forgive him for. His wife, Evie, is also a lovely person, and I wish them both continued joy and happiness. 

James O. Armitage, MD
Joe Shapiro Professor of Medicine,
University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha


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