Title: Harry Carothers Weiss Distinguished University Chair, Vice President of Translational Research
Company: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Location: Houston, Texas, United States
Robert Bast, MD, Harry Carothers Weiss Distinguished University Chair and Vice President of Translational Research at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Doctors for dedication, achievements, and leadership in oncology.
With more than 40 years of professional experience, Dr. Bast has served the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as the Henry Carothers Weiss Distinguished University Chair since 2004, and the vice president for translational research since 2000, having headed the division of medicine from 1994 to 2000.
Prior to joining MD Anderson, Dr. Bast served as director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center from 1987 to 1994, having led their clinical research programs from 1984 to 1987. In addition, he was co-director of the division of hematology-oncology, professor of medicine, and he held the Wellcome Clinical Professorship in honor of R. Wayne Rundles. Dr. Bast was recruited to Duke from Harvard Medical School where he had served as an associate professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute from 1983 to1984, having been an assistant professor of medicine from 1977 to 1983.
Dr. Bast was introduced to science and medicine in high school, working in research laboratories at the Washington, DC Veterans Administration Hospital. He began his career as a student at Wesleyan University, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in 1965. He subsequently studied at Harvard Medical School, earning a Doctor of Medicine, magna cum laude, in 1971. While pursuing his degrees, he was a predoctoral fellow in pathology and immunology research at the Massachusetts General Hospital from 1967 to 1969. After completing an internship in medicine at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1971 to 1972, he joined the United States Public Health Service, serving in the Biology Branch at the National Cancer Institute as a research associate from 1972 to 1975. From 1975 to 1976, Dr. Bast was an assistant resident in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
In 1977, Dr. Bast completed a fellowship in medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute before joining the faculty at Harvard. He is licensed to practice medicine in the states of Texas and North Carolina, and is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in hematology, medical oncology, and internal medicine.
Dr. Bast is renowned for his discovery of CA125, a serum biomarker for ovarian cancer that has contributed to the care of hundreds of thousands of women, and provides the first successful screening strategy for the disease. Over the last 40 years, his laboratory has identified several other blood tests that could contribute to early detection of ovarian cancer, including autoantibodies that patients develop against the mutant TP53 protein in ovarian cancer cells. In addition, his group has contributed to understanding the cellular and molecular biology of ovarian and breast cancer, discovering DIRAS3 (ARHI) that induces autophagy and tumor dormancy, and SIK2 kinase that regulates cancer cell division and sensitivity to the widely used drug paclitaxel.
Dr. Bast has written more than 640 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has edited 12 books, including “Holland-Frei’s Cancer Medicine,” an influential oncology text. He has lectured at numerous conferences, symposia, and institutions, and he was named Shashikant Lele Lecturer by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Trope Kalstad Lecturer by Radium Hospital in Oslo, Norway, David B. Kaner Memorial Lecturer by Dartmouth medical School, American Cancer Society Lecturer by the Society for Gynecologic Oncology, and Richard W. TeLinde Lecturer by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Furthermore, he has been recognized as J.G Moore Lecturer by the University of California, Los Angeles George Willbanks Lecturer by the University of South Florida, Alan Dembo Memorial Keynote Lecturer by the International Gynecologic Cancer Society, Robert C. Knapp Lecturer by Harvard Medical School, Barbara Moore Jordan Lecturer by Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center, and Arnold O. Beckman Lecturer by the American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Dr. Bast is a Stolte Memorial Lecturer by the Free Hospital of Amsterdam, D. Nelson Henderson Lecturer by the University of Toronto, John Ohtani Memorial Lecturer, and the Edward G. Waters Memorial Lecturer.
A leading voice in healthcare, Dr. Bast was a member and chair of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration. He has served on three study sections of the National Cancer Institute, as well as scientific advisory committees of 12 NCI designated US Cancer Centers, the Cancer Center Karolinska, the Deutsche Krebshilfe, and the Berlin Institute of Health. He is the former chair of the tumor markers expert panel of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and he was on the scientific advisory boards of the V Foundation and Ovarian Cancer Action in the United Kingdom. Dr. Bast also serves on scientific advisory committees for the TJ Martell Foundation and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance.
A respected voice in the field, Dr. Bast is affiliated with numerous professional organizations in his areas of expertise. He has been recognized as a fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American College of Physicians. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Association for Cancer Research, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, the International Gynecological Cancer Society, and the American Clinical and Climatological Association.
Throughout his career, Dr. Bast has been recognized with numerous honors and accolades for his achievements, having been named among America’s Top Oncologists, America’s Top Doctors, America’s Top Physicians, and one of the Best Doctors in America. He has received the Giants of Cancer Care award, Ovarcome Pioneer award, Society for Gynecologic Oncology Innovator award, Gynecological Cancer Foundation Claudia Cohen award, and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Rosalind Franklin award. He was also the recipient of the NCI Specialized Program of Excellence Outstanding Leadership award, the International Gynecologic Cancer Society Award for Excellence in Gynecologic Oncology, the International Society of Oncodevelopmental Biology & Markers-Abbott award, the Clinical Ligand Society-Smith Kline Beecham Clinical Laboratories Award, the Outstanding Leadership and Advocacy Award from the National Coalition Cancer Research, the Robert C. Knapp Award from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the Dominus award, Leukemia Society of America Scholar Award, and the Henry Asbury Christian Award from Harvard Medical School. His research has been supported by grants and contracts from the National Cancer Institute for more than 40 years.
Dr. Bast credits much of his success to hard work and having had great mentors and colleagues. He is particularly proud of the young people he has helped to train. He has mentored more than 80 students, fellows, and visiting scientists in his laboratory, and he led the physician-scientist and K12 clinician-investigator programs at MD Anderson which have included 72 of the most outstanding members of the junior faculty. He has developed graduate and postgraduate courses and programs in translational cancer research and cancer research administration. In his free time, Dr. Bast enjoys his family, travel, photography, opera, classical music and art history.
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