PHYSICIAN, RESEARCHER AND TEACHER

Parting Advice from a Legendary Mentor:  “Always keep constructively critical of what you read in the literature”
 
Ian TannockIn 2014, one of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre’s most admired and appreciated medical oncologists retired after almost 40 years of dedicated service.  Dr. Ian Tannock began his residency in medical oncology at the ‘old’ Princess Margaret Hospital at 500 Sherbourne Street in 1976.  Two years later, he came on board as a full-time staff physician, and, apart from a one-year sabbatical in Lyon, France, he spent his entire career at The Princess Margaret in numerous roles in the clinic, the classroom and the laboratory.
 
Dr. Tannock treated patients with breast, as well as head and neck cancers, but spent most of his career focused on bladder and prostate cancers. He led an international clinical study that led to FDA approval in 1996 of the first chemotherapy drug (mitoxantrone) for prostate cancer.  Then, in 2004, Dr. Tannock published in The New England Journal of Medicine the results of a study he led which showed that the drug docetaxel improved both survival and symptom control for men with hormone-resistant metastatic prostate cancer.
 
To this day, Dr. Tannock’s recommendation of docetaxel every three weeks with daily prednisone remains the gold standard of treatment for patients with incurable hormone-resistant prostate cancer. He greatly improved the standard of care for prostate cancer patients around the world.
 
“Ian embodies the true spirit of The Princess Margaret,” says Dr. Malcolm Moore, head of Medical Oncology and Hematology at The Princess Margaret.  “He is kind and generous with patients and colleagues, mixed with a commitment to excellence and a desire to improve the health of cancer patients.”
 

But clinical and laboratory-based research is not the only way Dr. Tannock is leaving his mark on cancer medicine.  He worked diligently to improve the training of young oncologists at The Princess Margaret and around the world.  
 
In 1987, he co-wrote and published with colleague, Dr. Richard Hill, the first edition of The Basic Science of Oncology, which Dr. Robert Bell, former CEO and President of University Health Network and current Deputy Health Minister of Ontario, coined the ‘Bible’ for oncology in 2013.
 
And dozens of cancer physicians consider Dr. Tannock to be their mentor and the reason they chose medical oncology as their specialty.  
 
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“Dr. Tannock has been a wonderful mentor and role model over many years.  My first experience as a summer medical student under his research supervision inspired me to pursue a career in medical oncology.”

 
  “It has been my pleasure and honour to be an early-on ‘Tannock mentee’.  He is now a friend, scientific colleague and sage editor of The Basic Science of Oncology.”



 
  “I met Dr. Ian Tannock when I came as an observer in 2007.  There are no words to describe him.  He has a personality that impacts young trainees and fellows.  The best decision of my professional life has been asking him to become my mentor.  I feel very proud to be his last fellow.”

Dr. Tannock plans on continuing his teaching legacy long after his retirement.  In the past months, he has delivered lectures in Argentina, Romania, Singapore and Vietnam, and will soon be visiting universities and cancer centres in Brazil, Kenya and India.

After contemplating how he would leave a permanent legacy at The Princess Margaret, Dr. Tannock chose to make a substantial personal donation—which was matched by his colleagues in the Department of Medical Oncology and Hematology—to establish an endowed fund that would support the continuing recruitment of medical oncology fellows from Canada and around the world.  This fund will enable The Princess Margaret to fulfill its mandate of achieving global impact in a significant way by allowing bright, ambitious physicians to study in Toronto with our highly-skilled and innovative cancer physicians.  Over a two-year period, the fellows collaborate in patient care and participate in breakthrough cancer research led by esteemed clinical and biomedical scientists.  They return to their home provinces and countries with new expertise and strong ties to our world-leading cancer centre.

The Princess Margaret trains over 450 fellows and graduate students each year. One medical fellowship requires funding from $80,000 to $100,000 per year.

Colleagues and friends of Dr. Tannock have celebrated his career by making their own contributions to the Ian Tannock Fellowship Fund