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Govindan named Anheuser-Busch Endowed Chair in Medical Oncology

Noted expert treats lung cancer patients, co-chairs effort to describe genomic alterations of lung cancer

February 17, 2016

Peter Newcomb

Ramaswamy Govindan, MD, has been named the Anheuser-Busch Endowed Chair in Medical Oncology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The Anheuser-Busch Foundation established the endowed chair in 2001 through The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Govindan was honored for his innovative research, including in genomics, aimed at developing better lung cancer therapies and improving patient outcomes.

“This represents what is so right about academic medicine at Washington University School of Medicine,” said David H. Perlmutter, MD, dean of the School of Medicine and executive vice chancellor for medical affairs. “We are recognizing a member of our faculty who is a former trainee. This academic medical center has an unbelievably rich tradition of graduating its trainees to prominent positions in academic medicine here, across the country and internationally.”

Govindan, who completed his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the School of Medicine in 1996, was named chief of the Section of Medical Oncology at the School in 2015. He was co-director from 2010 to 2015. He sees lung cancer patients at Siteman Cancer Center, where Washington University physicians are developing new therapies and leading clinical trials that investigate promising new approaches to the disease.

Elsewhere on the research side, Govindan is a co-chair of the lung cancer group for The Cancer Genome Atlas project, a national effort to describe the genomic alterations of common cancers. He also leads a national clinical trial called ALCHEMIST (Adjuvant Lung Cancer Enrichment Marker Identification and Sequencing Trial) that screens tumors from lung cancer patients and assigns treatments based on the molecular alterations in patients’ tumors.

Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor of Medicine and head of the Department of Medicine, said even though she has treated patients for 30 years, she has learned from Govindan’s bedside manner.

“I know this personally because he took care of my mother,” Fraser said. “We were without hope; everyone was devastated. Dr. Govindan coming into the room just made us all feel better.

“He sat down next to my mother, made sure his head and eyes were lower than hers. He took both her hands in his and told her he would take care of her, that no matter what he would be there for her and for all of us. And he was.”

Bob Cannon, president of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and group president of BJC HealthCare, said Govindan’s research leadership helps develop “better standards of care and better outcomes for patients in St. Louis and around the world.

“In addition, we recognize his dedication to sharing his knowledge and expertise with future generations of exceptional physician-researchers,” Cannon said.

Govindan earned his medical degree at the University of Madras in his native India. He has been a member of Washington University’s faculty since 1998. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, also in India, followed by an internship and residency in internal medicine at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Washington University.

Since 1997, Anheuser-Busch and the Anheuser-Busch Foundation have contributed more than $515 million to charitable organizations, including those that support education, medicine, the environment, economic development, disaster relief and military personnel.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Siteman Cancer Center, ranked among the top cancer treatment centers by U.S. News & World Report, also is one of only a few cancer centers in the U.S. to receive the highest rating of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Comprising the cancer research, prevention and treatment programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Siteman is Missouri’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and the state’s only member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.​​