Leading Oncology Investigator Honored With Penn Medicine Award of Excellence


John Maris, M.D., chief of the Division of Oncology, recently received the Leonard Berwick Memorial Teaching Award, an Award of Excellence from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Maris was selected to receive this award by a committee of senior faculty from the School of Medicine in recognition of his reputation as an outstanding teacher who effectively fuses basic science and clinical medicine. He is considered by both his students and colleagues as a true physician-scientist who has a unique ability to teach in diverse forums.

Dr. Maris, an international leader in identifying the molecular genetics of neuroblastoma through basic and clinical research and director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research, is also an associate professor of pediatrics in the School of Medicine. His teaching approach is not bound by the traditional classroom setting; rather, he teaches by example in the clinic and the lab and presents broad concepts over time to help grow individual careers in childhood cancer research and treatment, a method that is closely aligned with mentorship.

By teaching individuals from a clinical background the basic science concepts that underlie treatments and teaching basic scientists clinical applications for their research, Dr. Maris is creating a community of translational experts. In turn, the diverse skill sets and areas of expertise within the pediatric cancer translational research community engenders the teaching process.

“I’m passionate about developing the careers of scientists and clinicians by inspiring them to do the work that I do, and the best way to foster continued research is to identify, teach, and nurture young, talented individuals who can make an impact now and in the future,” says Dr. Maris. “I hope to express my enthusiasm for the process of translational research in a way that inspires trainees at every level — from students to experienced professionals.”