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Laurence Baker, D.O., chosen Chair-elect of the Southwest Oncology Group

added 8/28/03

Ann Arbor -It was announced that Laurence Baker, D.O., professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, associate chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and deputy director for clinical research at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center will assume the post of chairman L. Baker, D.O. of the Southwest Oncology Group.

The Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) is the largest cancer clinical trials organization in the world. SWOG’s National Cancer Institute-sponsored membership and network consists of nearly 4,000 of the nation's leading physicians at 283 institutions throughout the United States and Canada. Since its inception in 1956, The SWOG has directly affected the lives of more than 150,000 patients enrolled in the group’s clinical trials. Since 1990, SWOG research has led to the FDA issuance of new drug approvals for ten cancer therapies. The initial National Institutes of Health review of the SWOG’s six-year, $120 million renewal grant has been favorable; final review is scheduled for later this year.

Dr. Laurence Baker received his osteopathy degree from the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Des Moines, Iowa. After completing an oncology fellowship at Wayne State University in Detroit, Dr. Baker joined the faculty in 1972. In 1982, he became director of the Division of Hematology and Oncology, a position he held until 1992. In 1987, Dr. Baker accepted the directorship of the Meyer L. Prentis Comprehensive Cancer Center of Metropolitan Detroit. Dr. Baker joined the University of Michigan in 1994, where he currently serves as associate chief, Division of Hematology/Oncology, and deputy director and director for clinical research at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Baker's research interests include sarcoma and new drug development. He serves as a consultant and/or external reviewer to the National Cancer Institute and several university cancer centers.

Said Baker of his election, “I’ve been an active investigator in the Southwest Oncology Group since 1972, and I look forward to taking this step forward together with an outstanding team here at Michigan and across the country.” Commenting on goals for the group under his leadership, Baker noted, “While much progress has been made in the treatment, and more recently, the prevention of cancer, still nearly half the patients diagnosed with cancer will eventually succumb to the disease. As a result of our greater understanding of how cancers occur, new drug targets have been identified. Our job is to help develop the best new therapies and bring them to the American public as safely and efficiently as possible.”

Said Max Wicha, M.D., Director of the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, ”This election recognizes Larry Baker’s role as a national leader in clinical research, and will allow him to further impact the investigation and, ultimately, approval of new cancer therapies. Its exciting news for him and for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. We expect that our already prominent role in this outstanding group will continue to grow as a result of his leadership.”


The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center was established in 1986, and soon after was designated a "comprehensive" center by the National Cancer Institute by achieving the highest standards in patient care, engaging in significant prevention and research activities and developing strong community outreach programs. The U-M Cancer Center has more than 200 cancer clinicians and researchers working together in multidisciplinary teams to rapidly bring new prevention, detection and treatment discoveries to patients in its cancer care clinics. The process is called "translational research" and it's the cornerstone of all cancer care at the University of Michigan, providing patients with access to the highest quality treatment, often before its available anywhere else.

The U-M Cancer Center sees the most cancer patients of any hospital in the state of Michigan, according to Michigan's Hospital Association. The July 28, 2003 issue of U.S. News & World Report magazine again ranked the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center among the top 10 cancer centers in the United States.


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