Celebration of Excellence Awards 2012

UF&Shands cancer clinicians and researchers came together at the Cancer Genetics Research Complex during the evening of Feb. 16 to acknowledge and honor the outstanding work of their colleagues during the first-ever UF Shands Cancer Center Celebration of Excellence Awards ceremony! The people honored during the event were nominated by cancer center members, and they represent the very best qualities of the award categories for which they were being honored. Selected from more than 80 very deserving nominations, including nominations for individuals from every facet of the cancer center, the awardees were selected by cancer center member votes and heartfelt justifications.

Dr. Paul Okunieff, Dr. Jon Graham, Dr. John Wingard and Bench to Bedside Award Winner Dr. Chris Cogle.

Bench to Bedside Award

The Bench to Bedside award honored Dr. Christopher Cogle as a physician-scientist who epitomizes innovative and collaborative efforts to accelerate the transition of scientific discoveries into new cancer therapies. He is the principal investigator of a Phase One clinical trial now drawing patients from across the state, based on his novel findings of both stromal and cytotoxic antileukemic properties in an old, discarded molecule. His group also discovered that blood vessels promote and protect leukemia cells and may serve as sanctuary sites for refractory disease. Dr. Cogle’s bench-to-bedside work is ushering in a novel, first-in-class anti-cancer agent that is impacting the care of patients with hematological malignancies and which might also impact the care of patients with other forms of cancer in the future. His achievement was acknowledged with a plaque and $2,500 for professional development and/or program support.

Golden Glove Award Winner Rebecca Gaa, R.N., Dr. Jon Graham, Dr. John Wingard and Dr. Paul Okunieff.

Golden Glove Award

Rebecca Gaa, R.N. was the recipient of the Golden Glove Award. Nominees eligible for the Golden Glove Award are UF&Shands faculty or clinical staff members… such as nurses, technicians, receptionists, and others…. who personify excellence in patient-centered delivery of cancer care. This year’s recipient of the Golden Glove Award was honored for her unwavering and consistent commitment to our cancer patients. She is a nurse in the GI oncology program. Comments to describe her, made by her colleagues included: “She is known for her comprehensive and genuine care for our patients and their families”; “She has spent countless hours helping patients navigate their very challenging medical and personal cancer journeys”; “remains a support for the families of those patients who lose their battles with cancer”; and her dedication to our patients has been described as “profound and selfless.” Nurse Gaa was recognized with a plaque and $1,000 in professional development and/or program support.

Dr. Edward Scott (not pictured) was recognized with the Mentoring Outside the Box Award. Two of his nominators, Dr. Chris Cogle (right) and Dr. Coy Heldermon (left), represented Dr. Scott at the ceremony.

Mentoring Outside the Box Award

Dr. Edward Scott was the recipient of the Mentoring Outside the Box Award. Nominees eligible for the Mentoring Outside the Box Award are UF&Shands cancer research or clinical faculty members who have provided extraordinary leadership and mentoring to students, post docs and/or junior colleagues. Dr. Scott’s nominators described him as, “an accomplished investigator who has mentored countless clinicians and researchers in oncology, surgical oncology and orthopedic oncology.” He is “a mentor known for valuing diversity of experiences for his mentees, encouraging cross-collaborative efforts and idea-sharing among them.” His mentees described having benefited from his constructive observations and skillful management in helping move their research efforts forward, helping them be creative and to think outside-of-the-box. Dr. Scott was recognized with a plaque and $1,000 for professional development and/or program support.

Dr. Jon Graham, Dr. John Wingard, Dr. Paul Okunieff and Most Valuable Player Award Winner Allison Ivey, R.N.

MVP Award

Research Nurse Allison Ivey, R.N. was recognized with the MVP Award. UF&Shands faculty and staff from cancer research, clinical and administrative areas are eligible for the MVP Award, which seeks to acknowledge personal and professional excellence that has made a significant positive impact on organizational business, research and/or patient care objectives. Ivey has done just that. She is described as being, “hands down, the best research nurse… extraordinarily diligent, careful and always complete… a stickler for patient safety and protocol compliance.” “She has great insight into the regulatory needs and clinical care of patients on research protocol, as well as the elements required for good clinical practice, medical record documentation, and mentorship of junior members of the research team.” Most importantly, Ivey… in the words of one of her nominators… “appreciates the critical role that each member of the clinical and research team plays in the successful conduct of a clinical trial.” Ivey was recognized with a plaque and $1,500 in professional development and/or program support.

Dr. Sadisivan Vidyasagar, far right, and his team received the Top Team Effort Award for their work on Enterade.

Top Team Effort Award

The Top Team Effort Award is meant to reward workgroups for achieving challenging goals and making significant, positive impact on organizational business, research and/or patient care objectives. Dr. Sadasivan Vidyasagar’s team was recognized with the Top Team Effort Award due to its extreme mission focus, member empowerment and involvement, effective planning, communication and execution in its effort to bring a new product, Enterade, through research, development and to market. This team worked as a tireless unit, on a 24/7, three-shift schedule for 3 months, to develop a drink formula that would provide cancer patients undergoing GI irradiation or GI toxic chemotherapy with optimal nutritional support while minimizing diarrhea. In less than a year the team successfully gained patent, licensing, incorporation of a new company and $3 million in investment for their product, Enterade. The Enterade formula is now entering clinical trials, and is expected to begin improving the lives of cancer patients this April. Led by Dr. Sadasivan Vidyasagar, team members Liangjie Yin, Mei Zhang, Amy Zhang, Zhenhuan Zhang, and Rejeesh Menon were recognized with individual plaques and $4,000 in professional development and/or program support.