Last week, Dr. Beverly Torok-Storb — or “Dr. Bev,” as she’s known to her students — received the first Oliver Press Award for Extraordinary Mentorship. Torok-Storb has founded and led several internship programs at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for high school students and undergraduates, with a focus on those from backgrounds that are underrepresented in science. She received the award at a symposium that was named in honor of Press, a Fred Hutch physician-scientist who died last year.
“I’m thrilled to receive this award, because it has Ollie’s name on it,” Torok-Storb said after accepting a commemorative plaque from Fred Hutch President and Director Dr. Gary Gilliland. In addition to her mentorship work, Torok-Storb studies the biology of bone marrow transplantation and blood cell formation.
The two-year award was endowed by a large group of donors who had been Press’ colleagues, friends, family or patients, and it was created to honor his widely recognized impact as a mentor to more than 75 people over his career. Recipients are expected to enrich mentorship across the center through multiple avenues (including faculty development, team building and teaching) and model the qualities for which Press was known.
“Ollie lit a fire, and my job for two years is to grow it,” Torok-Storb said. She was escorted to receive her honor by Press’ son, Dr. Maximilian Press, and his widow and longtime collaborator, Fred Hutch research administrator Nancy Press.
Gilliland read from a letter nominating Torok-Storb for the honor. “The force of her personality is tempered by her charm and wit,” the nominator wrote, alluding to Torok-Storb’s powerful advocacy for the students in her programs. The scientist is “approachable and trusted,” and shares her skills freely with those she mentors to “help them flourish,” Gilliland read.
Susan Keown, a staff writer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has written about health and research topics for a variety of research institutions, including the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @sejkeown.