Dr. Pasquale Benedetto Awarded Fewell Endowed Chair in Medical Oncology Research
At a chair ceremony in May, renowned cancer researcher and physician Pasquale W. Benedetto, M.D., was awarded the Robert J. and Marian G. Fewell Endowed Chair in Medical Oncology Research.
The esteemed Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center member, Leonard M. Miller Professor and professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine was celebrated for his contributions to science, innovative research and dedication to patient care.
Carole Fewell created the chair to honor her parents, philanthropic visionaries Robert and Marian Fewell, and recognize their deep appreciation for Dr. Benedetto’s kindness, compassion and skill during the more than 20 years he cared for her father.
“My dad just absolutely adored Dr. Benedetto,” said Ms. Fewell, who credits Dr. Benedetto’s medical acumen and personalized attention for allowing her father to live to be almost 96 years old. “The two of them had a rapport that was just beautiful. His secret is he has such a laid-back, very easygoing manner. You are relaxed when you go to see Dr. Benedetto — and that’s a time when you’re not at all relaxed.”
Calling Dr. Benedetto a master at integrating modern science with the traditional art of healing, Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., praised the physician-scientist for his bedside manner and recognized him for his pioneering work in cancer research.
Celebration of Accomplishments
Among Dr. Benedetto’s numerous accomplishments, he is a recognized expert in the treatment of testicular cancer, and a leading investigator in kidney cancer trials that included early demonstration of the effectiveness of immunotherapy and the development of the first targeted therapy for metastatic kidney cancer.
“The treatments available now for our patients are greater than ever because of doctors like Pat Benedetto,” said Dr. Nimer, who holds the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and serves as executive dean for research at the Miller School. “It is a privilege to honor him for his lifetime of dedication to his craft and to medicine.”
Dr. Benedetto said he was deeply humbled to be the first recipient of the Robert J. and Marian G. Fewell Endowed Chair in Medical Oncology Research, noting that it will allow him to continue developing novel therapies to improve the treatment of cancer.
“I think what first attracted most of us to oncology was the idea that we were pursuing medicine at the frontiers of the discipline, and that we were there to create new opportunities for people who had bad diseases,” said Dr. Benedetto. “The common thread in all our endeavors was the opportunity to use science to solve complex problems. Each of our successes came from a clinical trial, which is the bedrock of how we deal with oncologic care.
“Over time, we moved from the era of empiricism to what we now refer to as personalized medicine. We are now able to harness the immune system to destroy cancer cells, avoiding previously damaging toxicities altogether for patients.”
Endowed Chairs Offer Sustained Support
Before presenting the chair to Dr. Benedetto, Henri R. Ford, M.D., dean and chief academic officer of the Miller School, spoke of the importance of endowed chairs.
“Endowments offer sustained support allowing our scientists and amazing clinicians to be nimble, focused and responsive to the ever-expanding base of knowledge that drives innovation in health care,” said Dean Ford. “The chair we present to Dr. Benedetto has the potential to transform cancer research and cancer care worldwide, for generations to come.”
Dr. Benedetto was celebrated in person and via Zoom by family, friends, colleagues and Miller School faculty and staff during the ceremony, which was held in the Jose Berrocal Auditorium at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
The Fewell Chair is part of the University of Miami’s Centennial Talents Initiative. The goal is to establish at least 100 endowed chairs by the University’s centennial in 2025; the Fewell Chair is No. 97.