Former UNMC oncologist receives NCI award

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public affairs | December 18, 2006

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Steven Pavletic, M.D.
The National Cancer Institute has given one of its highest honors to former UNMC oncologist Steven Pavletic, M.D.

Dr. Pavletic received the NCI Individual Merit Award for his efforts in defining -- by international consensus -- the clinical-research criteria for investigating the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of chronic graft-versus-host disease, or cGVHD.

His former internal medicine and oncology colleagues at UNMC played a key role in allowing him to receive the award, Dr. Pavletic said.

"I see my award also as an award to the UNMC environment where I spent the most critical formative years of my professional career," said Dr. Pavletic, who left UNMC in 2002 to join the NCI. "That experience and subsequent professional recognition allowed me to be invited to the NCI, a decision that was not easy for me."

He is head of the NCI Graft-Versus-Host and Autoimmunity Unit, Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch and acting chief of the medical oncology transplantation and immunotherapy service.

Dr. Pavletic was credited for his development and coordination of a National Institutes of Health consensus project on clinical trials for chronic graft-versus-host disease. The project included a 2005 consensus-development conference, a culmination of a two-year effort by the hematology-oncology transplantation community and related medical subspecialties, to create guidelines that allow rapid conduct of clinical trials in cGVHD.

"The award I received for my cGVHD efforts is recognition primarily to a unique team effort. We were able to define and organize a new foundation to launch a new impetus for the chronic GVHD clinical research in the years to come," he said. "The goal is for better outcomes after treatment of leukemia and lymphoma with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation."

John Neiderhuber, M.D., director of the NCI, said Dr. Pavletic embodies the dedication, professionalism and expertise of NCI that allows the institute to continue to move forward in its goal of reducing the burden of cancer.

Dr. Pavletic received his doctor of medicine degree from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine in Croatia in 1979, followed by his 1992 completion of clinical fellowship in bone marrow transplantation from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington Medical School in Seattle.

He completed his internal medicine residency at UNMC in 1995 and a hematology and oncology fellowship in 1997 at UNMC.