Richard J. Santen, M.D. '61
To read Dick Santen's curriculum vitae is to view the definition of medical practice and scholarship; science and humanism; faith and purpose.
A leading authority in the field of reproductive endocrinology, Dick has worked tirelessly and brilliantly for more than three decades to increase our understanding of hormone dependent breast and prostate cancers. He is world-renowned for developing a breakthrough therapy for breast cancer and for a lifetime of oncology research and clinical work. As a professor of medicine, his leadership also manifests itself in a commitment to teaching and mentoring young doctors and researchers. Widely published, he has been active on scientific review groups at the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization. He has delivered invited lectures in 23 countries.
In the mid-1970s, Dick recognized that blocking an enzyme called aromatase could be highly effective in treating breast cancer in women. He led a group of physicians and scientists in conducting studies exploring and validating this idea. This led to more scientists in academic and pharmaceuticals companies working to developing ever more effective aromatase inhibitors. Now in its third generation, these inhibitors have become the first line of therapy for women with estrogen-dependent breast cancer.
In addition to this breakthrough development, Dick has written nearly 400 publications on the treatment of breast and prostate cancer and secured more than $10 million in research grant support. His work bridges the gap in molecular, translational and clinical research.
Having trained 32 clinical and postdoctoral fellows, Dick inculcates the role of excellence in the care of patients.
After graduating from Holy Cross where he majored in philosophy, Dick received his medical degree from the University of Michigan. Upon completing training at the New York Hospital of Cornell Medical Center and the University of Michigan Hospital, he began his long and esteemed career in endocrinology.
Since 1995, Dick has been professor of medicine in the division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
For his dedication to healing and intellectual rigor, for saving countless lives and pointing the way to future enhancements in curing the sick, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Richard J. Santen the Sanctae Crucis Award.