James Armitage, M.D., receives national recognition for work in cancer

Dr. Armitage is globally recognized as a leading expert on non-Hodgkin lymphoma

James Armitage, M.D., has received the 2014 American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Special Recognition Award. The award, presented May 30 during the international ASCO meeting in Chicago, honors individuals for major contributions in areas of clinical oncology, cancer research, clinical trials, reimbursement, and patient advocacy activities and who have given long-term service to ASCO and to clinical oncology.

“It’s an honor to receive this award,” said Dr. Armitage, Joe Shapiro Professor of Internal Medicine in the UNMC Division of Oncology/Hematology. “My association with ASCO over the last 35 years has been a rewarding part of my career. ASCO has never wavered from its commitment to cancer patients in getting patients the best possible treatment and care. 

Dr. Armitage is globally recognized as a leading expert on non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and played a critical role in advancing bone marrow transplantation. He developed and directed the bone marrow transplant programs at the University of Iowa and later at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, where he also served as vice chair of internal medicine, chief of the section of oncology and hematology, chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, and dean of the College of Medicine.

UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., said the award is a tremendous honor for Dr. Armitage and great recognition for UNMC. “He is an internationally recognized leader in cancer care. UNMC is proud to have him as a longstanding member of our faculty and in a leadership role in the Fred & Pamela Buffett Canter Center.”

The bone marrow transplant program at UNMC was one of the first centers to focus on autologous transplantation — a process that involves storing a patient’s bone marrow stem cells so that the cells can be reintroduced after chemotherapy. The process helps s patients tolerate higher doses of chemotherapy while reducing rates of complications, such as graft-versus-host disease, that often result when a patient receives donor bone marrow.

“Dr. Armitage is a pioneer in hematology/oncology, a special teacher and mentor to all of us at UNMC for the last several decades, and he has built the foundation for our future at UNMC,” said Julie Vose, M.D., Neumann M. and Mildred E. Harris Professorial Chair and chief of the UNMC Division of Oncology/Hematology.

Lynell W. Klassen, M.D., Henry J. Lehnhoff Professor and chair of the Department of Internal Medicine, said Dr. Armitage joins a prestigious group of recipients.

“Dr. Armitage is internationally acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost experts in the treatment of lymphoma,” Dr. Klassen said. “He established, at UNMC, the lymphoma program that grew into a world-renowned program. The award reflects the dedication, expertise and passion Dr. Armitage has for helping patients.

“With Jim receiving ASCO’s Special Recognition Award with Dr. Vose beginning her term as ASCO president-elect, UNMC’s Division of Oncology/Hematology was recognized nationally at the world’s largest oncology meeting.”

Dr. Armitage said it’s been exciting for him to be part of a new approach for treating lymphomas.

“Just a few decades ago, treatments weren’t nearly as effective as we would have liked,” Dr. Armitage said. “Today we’ve learned so much, and the field is continuing to change at an incredibly rapid pace.”

Dr. Armitage’s contributions span well beyond his work at these two universities. He has held many leadership roles at ASCO and other hematology and oncology associations, including ASCO president and president of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation.

He contributed to ASCO in many other capacities, including serving multiple terms on the board of directors and chairing the Cancer Education Committee, the Ethics Committee, and the Hematology-Oncology Task Force. Dr. Armitage is presently a member of the Journal of Clinical Oncology editorial board and is editor of The ASCO Post.

Photo cutline: Sandra Swain, M.D., past president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), presents James Armitage, M.D., with the Special Achievement Award.

Photo courtesy of ASCO.


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Vicky Cerino
UNMC Public Relations
(402) 559-5190