Brian Czerniecki, MD, PhD, received the 2015 ASBrS/Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award. The award was presented on May 2, 2015 at the Society’s 16th Annual Meeting in Orlando. Dr. Richard Levin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation presented the award along with Drs. Sheldon Feldman and Terry Sarantou of the selection committee.
Dr Czerniecki, the first ASBrS member to receive the award, at the time was the Rhodes-Harrington Professor in Surgical Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania and the co-director of the Rena Rowan Breast Center. He is currently conducting his research at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. His research interests focus on dendritic cell biology and interactions with T cells. He has developed dendritic cell vaccines for the treatment of cancer and is involved with several clinical trials for treating patients with early breast cancer with dendritic cell vaccines.
One of Dr Czerniecki’s patients in a letter to the selection committee described his dedication, saying in part, “My first encounter with Dr. C. was an email that I sent to him inquiring about his research. Although he did not know me, he answered in six short minutes! Because he cared enough to respond to a very worried newly diagnosed breast cancer patient at 10:00 PM in the evening, I knew at once that this was a very special surgeon, researcher and person. Dr. C.’s surgical technique was flawless and the vaccine trial process was very smooth. What impressed me most of all was that he truly cared about my emotional security and went to great lengths to assure me about the whole process. Because of his standard of emotional care for patients, he inspired me to model his behavior, in my work as a patient advocate working with cancer patients. Now I make it a point to respond immediately to patients expressing anxiety. This sensitivity makes a tremendous difference for patients.”
Another letter supporting his nomination described Dr. Czerniecki as “not only a world-renowned oncology surgeon and scientist, but he has created a community of patients, caregivers, volunteers, and fellow cancer experts who all have the same shared vision: Setting an end to this terrible disease, giving the best care a patient deserves, involving patients, their families and caregivers in the treatment process, and collaborating in finding ways to share information and knowledge among them and other fellow doctors and scientists.”
A fellow researcher further described the merits of this year’s winner, saying, “I have met few physicians who excel at patient care as well as research (both basic and clinical), and none who have achieved such results, while consistently earning the affection and loyalty of their patients and trainees.” The Gold Foundation’s humanism awards for practicing doctors, which are awarded through specialty societies, were established to identify and honor practicing physicians, such as Dr. Czerniecki, who best demonstrate the ideals of compassionate and respectful care for a patient’s physical and emotional well-being.