Dr John Zeigler, MSc Epidemiology 97′ has been awarded the 2014 Burkitt Medal. The medal award took place as part of the 9th International Cancer Conference and Cancer Week Ireland.
Dr John L. Ziegler of the University of California San Francisco was awarded the medal at a celebratory dinner on September 17 as part of the 9th International Cancer Conference at Trinity College Dublin.
The award recognises people with the integrity, compassion and dedication matching that of Denis Burkitt, a Trinity graduate who is known for his discovery of Burkitt’s lymphoma.
Introducing John Ziegler and commenting on his contribution to cancer, Regius Professor of Medicine Owen Smith, Professor of Haematology in Trinity, and Consultant Paediatric Haematologist at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, said: “Dr Ziegler has made significant contributions to the fields of medical oncology and to global health. Continuing the legacy of Denis Burkitt, he directed a highly productive research team in Uganda that made dramatic progress to cure a particularly lethal form of childhood cancer. Burkitt himself once remarked of him, ‘You have turned my small path into a superhighway’. Ziegler’s career amply exemplifies Burkitt’s curiosity, leadership, and humanity.”
Head of the School of Medicine in Trinity, Professor Paul Browne said: “Burkitt’s legacy, celebrated at this event, is continued by Dr John Ziegler. His work on cancer, especially in connection with developing countries is tremendous.”
John Ziegler, Founding Director, Global Health Sciences Graduate Program, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), USA, received his undergraduate degree (BA, English Literature) from Amherst College, Amherst Massachusetts, and his MD from Cornell University Medical School in New York City. Following medical house staff training at Bellevue Hospital in New York, he joined the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1966, beginning a life-long career in cancer research and care. In 1967 he was assigned to begin a long collaboration with Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, studying Burkitt’s lymphoma and other indigenous cancers. Together with Ugandan counterparts, he developed curative therapies for lymphoma and established a cancer institute that today has expanded to a major centre of excellence in sub Saharan Africa.
After five years Ziegler returned to the National Cancer Institute to head clinical oncology, and in 1981 moved to University of California San Francisco. The AIDS pandemic made its first appearance in San Francisco, heralded by opportunistic infections and two malignancies – Kaposi’s sarcoma and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Ziegler and colleagues made important contributions to this field both in California and back in Uganda. In his later career, earning an MSc in epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Ziegler headed a cancer genetics clinic at University of California San Francisco, and most recently was founding director of a global health Master’s degree.