IU Simon Cancer Center director earns Indiana University President's Medal


INDIANAPOLIS -- (Aug. 22, 2008) – Stephen Williams, M.D., director of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, has been awarded the Indiana University President’s Medal for Excellence by IU President Michael A. McRobbie.


Dr. Williams earned the award, one of the highest honors an IU president can bestow, during the dedication ceremony of the cancer center’s new patient care building on Aug. 21.


Dr. Williams, the HH Gregg Professor of Oncology at the IU School of Medicine, has been director of the cancer center since its establishment in 1992.


In presenting the award to Dr. Williams, President McRobbie said, “Dr. Williams, this university is very proud of you. As an alumnus of the Indiana University School of Medicine, as its associate dean for cancer research, and as the HH Gregg Professor of Oncology, you have contributed three decades of excellent work to this great institution. Your longtime study and treatment of testicular and ovarian cancers, and your investigations into the effects of these illnesses on patients and their families, have added substantial knowledge to your field.  In addition, your leadership was instrumental in this center’s designation as a National Cancer Institute clinical cancer center.


“Thus, it is with great pride that I bestow upon you the President’s Medal for Excellence, which symbolizes the aspirations and ideals that are the foundation of the search for knowledge,” McRobbie added.


Under Dr. Williams’ guidance, the center was recognized in 1999 by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) as one of the elite cancer research institutions in the country, a five-year designation that was renewed in 2004 and 2008. The IU Simon Cancer Center is Indiana’s only NCI-designated center that provides patient care.


He also has overseen increased research funding for the cancer center. Funding from the NCI, the National Institutes of Health, and other external sources has grown from $16 million in 1994 to $75 million today.


Dr. Williams has more than doubled the number of scientists affiliated with the cancer center; more than 220 investigators now focus on finding cancer treatments.


Under Dr. William’s leadership, the center implemented the IU Simon Cancer Center Translational Research Acceleration Collaboration (ITRAC), a new and novel approach to project management that has resulted in enhanced extramural research funding and – most importantly – new clinical trial opportunities for patients. 


Dr. Williams is a clinical researcher with national recognition for his expertise in the use of cisplatinum in the treatment of ovarian germ cell tumors. He is recognized in America’s Top Doctors in Cancer and during his tenure the center has consistently ranked among the top clinical programs in the country in U.S. News & World Report.


Dr. Williams has delivered four plenary sessions at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) national meetings — a noteworthy number — and has served in numerous leadership roles with the Eastern Cooperative Gynecologic Oncology Group, the regional ASCO working group for clinical trial coordination.  As recently as July 2007, Dr. Williams and his colleagues published research in the New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrating that 60 percent of relapsed testis cancer patients could be successfully treated with high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation.   


Dr. Williams is a graduate of the IU School of Medicine. He completed his residency training and a cancer fellowship at IU. He was the first appointed oncologist at the Indianapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center in 1978 and only the second medical oncologist to serve on the IU School of Medicine faculty. He was named associate dean for cancer research at the medical school in 2007.


The President's Medal for Excellence is a reproduction in fine silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by the IU president at ceremonial occasions. Criteria for recipients include distinction in public service, service to IU, achievement in a profession, and/or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, science, education, and industry.