Ronan T. Swords, assistant professor of medicine and director of the Leukemia Program at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, has received the Pap Corps Endowed Professorship in Leukemia. The endowment comes from The Pap Corps: Champions for Cancer Research, a volunteer organization that raises money solely for cancer research at Sylvester.
To date, The Pap Corps has donated more than $51 million to Sylvester, including this year’s record-setting $4.5 million as part of an overall pledge of $25 million to UM’s Momentum2 campaign. That makes the organization the fifth-highest University donor in overall giving.
The endowed professorship was celebrated at a ceremony at Sylvester on October 23 that was attended by leaders from the University of Miami and The Pap Corps, and several of Swords’ colleagues.
“With a focus on patient-oriented research and multidisciplinary clinical care, Dr. Swords is poised to become a leader in the field of hematologic malignancy,” said Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology. “An endowment makes it possible for Sylvester to support extraordinarily talented physician-researchers such as Dr. Swords, who will make that next life-changing discovery.”
“Endowed professorships offer many benefits, not just to the recipients, but to the entire University community,” said UM President Donna E. Shalala. “This gives us a chance to honor our brightest stars. It is an opportunity to invest in the future, and investing in Dr. Swords’ research and clinical care is absolutely critical to creating a world-class cancer center.”
Swords, a native of Ireland, received his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the National University of Ireland Galway. Following a residency in general internal medicine, he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland in 2002 and a fellow in 2011. After a fellowship in hematology, Swords became a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in London. He came to the U.S. in 2009 for an advanced fellowship in drug development at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Swords joined Sylvester in 2012.
“An endowed professorship is one of the top accolades in a physician-scientist’s career,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “This funding will surely allow Dr. Swords to take his work to the next level. His multidisciplinary approach to clinical challenges demonstrates an inventive and very curious mind that will continue to uncover and develop new strategies.”
To commemorate the occasion, Swords was presented with a plaque and a new white coat embroidered with the title of his endowed professorship. In his acceptance remarks, he thanked The Pap Corps for its support of his work, calling the endowed professorship “a great privilege and honor. The Leukemia Program now has a nucleus of really talented people in the laboratory and the clinic,” Swords said, “and it is going to be nationally and internationally competitive.”
Despite the praise for her organization’s giving, JoAnne Goldberg, President of The Pap Corps kept Sylvester’s achievements in the spotlight.
“Thank you for all that you do,” she said. “It is our pleasure to work for you.”
Nimer repaid the compliment, saying that The Pap Corps’ consistently high level of funding has enabled Sylvester’s physicians and researchers to directly impact the lives of patients.
“Because of you, we have had the funding necessary to encourage early research, open clinical trials and increase our community outreach and education,” he said. “The money you raise helps us recruit top-notch physicians and scientists, and now your support is taking us another step forward.”
Swords also acknowledged Nimer and another Sylvester colleague who was present, Joseph Rosenblatt, M.D., professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, Chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology in the Department of Medicine, as invaluable mentors.
“This endowment is a wonderful opportunity for me to really focus my efforts almost entirely on research,” he said. “We have a very large, diverse patient population, and this will help us get more patients into more clinical trials. It will enable us to establish large tissue banks and learn much more about the biology of the disease, which hopefully will lead to new treatments.”