Klimberg Lectureship Offers Insight from Leading Breast Cancer Researcher

By Susan Van Dusen

“Without him, I would not be where I am today,” said Klimberg, former division director of the UAMS College of Medicine Division of Breast Surgical Oncology.

That mutual respect and admiration led Bland to honor his former mentee by serving as featured speaker for the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute’s 2020 Suzanne Klimberg Endowed Lectureship in Breast Oncology.

Dr. Suzanne Klimberg

V. Suzanne Klimberg, M.D., Ph.D., formerly served as director of the UAMS Division of Breast Surgical Oncology.

The presentation titled “Contemporary Molecular and Genomic Profiling for Breast Cancer” was offered online Oct. 28 as part of the Cancer Institute Grand Rounds lecture series.

“Dr. Bland is highly regarded for his contributions to the field of surgical oncology, as well as his research in the area of targeted therapies and chemoprevention of breast cancer. We are honored to have him share his discoveries and wisdom with us,” said Issam Makhoul, M.D., director of the UAMS Division of Hematology/Oncology and director of Grand Rounds.

Bland has authored or co-authored about 600 journal articles and authored or edited 44 textbooks, including the best-selling text on breast diseases. He is professor of surgery and chair emeritus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Surgery.

“Dr. Klimberg is one of my most revered former residents. She has gone on to great stardom in the breast cancer oncology world,” Bland told the audience prior to this lecture, which focused on advances in personalized breast cancer therapy.

“Over the past three decades, there has been more research in breast cancer than in any other tumor site. The results of this results are truly transformative science,” said Bland.

While at UAMS, Klimberg developed several innovative surgical procedures, including axillary reverse mapping to prevent the arm swelling known as lymphedema that many breast cancer survivors experience following surgery.

She also is known for her work with excision following radiofrequency ablation (eRFA) that uses heat to create a tumor-free zone around the lumpectomy cavity and for her advances in nipple-sparing mastectomies.

Klimberg now serves as professor and chief of the Division of Surgical Oncology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, Texas. She also is medical director of the UTMB Cancer Center and holds the Courtney M. Townsend Jr., M.D., Distinguished Chair in General Surgery.

In closing the presentation, Kent Westbrook, M.D., co-founder of the UAMS Cancer Institute and distinguished professor of surgery, thanked Bland for sharing his knowledge with the UAMS faculty.

“There have been so many advances in breast cancer therapy that it can be hard for surgeons to keep up. It’s important for thought leaders such as yourself to educate other doctors and offer insight into this rapidly changing field,” Westbrook said.