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Robert Burk Gives Inaugural Wacholder Lecture

Posted on May 08, 2018

Dr. Robert Burk, Albert Einstein School of Medicine

Robert Burk

In April 2018, DCEG welcomed Robert Burk, M.D., Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, as the inaugural Sholom Wacholder Distinguished Lecturer in Quantitative Health Sciences. The lectureship is named in memory of Sholom Wacholder, Ph.D., senior investigator in the Biostatistics Branch (BB), a brilliant, multidisciplinary and critical thinker who worked at the intersection of quantitative reasoning and science. He passed away in 2015.

Dr. Burk was selected because of his close personal and professional relationship with Dr. Wacholder—the two collaborated for decades. During the talk, titled, “Sholom, Mark and me – Natural history of type-specific cervicovaginal HPV infections,” Dr. Burk discussed his friend’s intellect and curiosity, as well as his legacy. He went on to describe the decades-long progress of human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer research, to which both he and Dr. Wacholder have greatly contributed. These advances depended on a range of efforts, from early studies dealing with immature HPV tests, to epidemiologic studies demonstrating that infection persistence drives progression to cancer, to more recent genomic studies of the carcinogenicity of HPV variants and sublineages.

Dr. Robert Burk (second from left) is welcomed by Dr. Stephen Chanock, Dr. Mark Schiffman, and Dr. Hormuzd Katki, all of DCEG.

From left: Stephen Chanock, Robert Burk, Mark Schiffman, and Hormuzd Katki

The seminar was widely attended by staff from DCEG and across the NCI. Dr. Wacholder’s family was also in attendance, including his wife, sisters, brother-in-law, and niece. After the lecture, Hormuzd Katki, Ph.D., senior investigator in BB, host of the event, announced the newly-established Sholom Wacholder Travel Award. This award will support a conference trip by a current DCEG fellow who is conducting interdisciplinary research that merges quantitative science and epidemiology or genetics.

Following the lecture friends and family gathered for lunch and to share stories about Dr. Wacholder and to celebrate his life.