In November 2015, Pitt students and star football player James Connor received life-altering news. The 20-year-old running back was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. As his teammates—and Panthers fan across the country—rallied around Conner, so did an expert team of medical professionals at UPMC CancerCenter and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, one of the largest cancer care networks in the nation.
In charge of the young man’s treatment plan was leading oncologist Stanley Marks, whose dedication to the fight against cancer has earned him the admiration of colleagues and patients alike. A clinical professor of medicine in Pitt’s School of Medicine, Marks is known as an icon in his field and an avid patient advocate. He is chairman of the UPMC CancerCenter, chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology at UPMC Shadyside, and a leader in community organizations, such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and American Cancer Society.
Last May, after six months of treatment, Conner learned from Marks that his cancer was in remission. By the fall, the student-athlete was back on the football field and, this spring, he was chosen by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL draft.
Marks took on Conner’s case as he does with all his patients—with commitment and compassion. It was this career-long approach and a history of advancing cancer care that recently inspired the physician’s colleagues at the Oncology Hematology Association (OHA) in Pittsburgh to establish an endowed chair at Pitt in Marks’s name.
A colleague characterized him as “an incredibly talented physician, the kind of physician that we all strive to be in knowledge, demeanor, and patient empathy.”
The Stanley M. Marks-OHA Endowed Chair in Hematology/Oncology Leadership will support outstanding leaders in the Pitt School of Medicine’s Division of Hematology/Oncology and will train professionals devoted to research and improved treatments for patients. The $2.2 million endowment is supported through UPMC and contributions made by each of Marks’s 48 partners at OHA.
“I think that endowed chairs are the single greatest gift that we can give to the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute,” says oncologist Peter Ellis (MED ’85), an OHA partner and Pitt clinical professor of medicine. “It gives the cancer institute the wherewithal to attract the best and brightest minds, retain them in Pittsburgh, and have them offer their expertise for the research and the betterment of patient care right here in western Pennsylvania”
As Marks (A&S ’69, MED ’73) continues to provide patients with outstanding care, the endowed chair will serve as an influential, enduring tribute to a doctor who has transformed lives.
Opening image: Stanley Marks
This article appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Pitt Magazine.