Ajay Gopal, MD, was recently appointed the Stephen H. Petersdorf Endowed Chair in Cancer Care at UW Medicine.
Renamed in 2015 for the late physician-researcher who specialized in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma, this endowed chair recognizes qualities that make for an outstanding physician and teacher: excellence in patient care, teaching and communication.
A Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center medical oncologist specializing in lymphoma and other blood cancers, Gopal is always working to improve patient care.
As an oncologist, he intently focuses on building connections with his patients to develop an approach to care that best meets their needs. As the medical director for Fred Hutch’s Hematology and Hematologic Malignancy Program, he broadens that focus to better care for patients with all blood disorders. And as the director of Clinical Research for Hematology Malignancies at Fred Hutch and a professor in UW Medicine’s Division of Medical Oncology, he’s driven to translate results in the lab to new treatments in the clinic as quickly as possible.
“It is a tremendous privilege to be able to honor my friend and clinical mentor Dr. Stephen Petersdorf with this endowed chair,” Gopal said. “This support will provide critical infrastructure and targeted project support for the lymphoma — and more broadly the heme [hemotologic] malignancy — program at Fred Hutch and UW Medicine.”
Endowed chairs build a foundation of ongoing support for cancer research, providing scientists consistent funding to pursue breakthroughs in treatments and cures. For Gopal in particular, this will be critical to continuing to shape patient care not just at Fred Hutch and UW Medicine, but across the country, as well.
Several of the treatments his teams have developed — including a regimen combining the four drugs brentuximab-vedotin, ifosfamide, carboplatin and etoposide as a second-line treatment for patients with relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma — have gone on to become part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines.
“It’s great to be able to provide treatment here in Seattle, but we want to develop therapies that are patient-friendly, practical and can be delivered in smaller communities,” he said. “That’s how you have the biggest impact.”