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Awards honor leaders in pediatric cancer research

Mark E. Nesbit Jr., M.D. John H. Kersey, M.D.

Two pioneering University of Minnesota pediatric cancer researchers will be recognized for their tireless dedication to children on October 28 at the University’s McNamara Alumni Center.

John H. Kersey, M.D., and Mark E. Nesbit Jr., M.D., will receive the University of Minnesota Medical Alumni Society’s Harold S. Diehl Award for lifetime achievement, granted to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the Medical School, the University as a whole, and the community.

As founding director of what is now known as the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Kersey has not only proven himself as a compassionate doctor and researcher but also as a skillful listener who excels at bringing people together to work toward a common goal. The forward-thinking Kersey, a 1964 Medical School alumnus, also led the medical team that performed the world’s first successful bone marrow transplant for treating lymphoma. Since he stepped down as Masonic Cancer Center director in 2007, he has returned to the lab to pursue his lifelong research into the causes of and cures for acute leukemia and lymphoma.

Described by his peers as an astute clinician, researcher, teacher, and advocate, Nesbit is a pioneer in the treatment of acute leukemia. His work has set the standard of care for children who have leukemia—one that has been used as a model for treating other pediatric and adult cancers as well. Nesbit, who completed his residency and fellowship training at the University of Minnesota in the 1960s, also served as the first board chair of Children’s Cancer Research Fund, a nonprofit organization that has invested nearly $60 million in pediatric cancer research at the University.

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