How Carolyn D. Runowicz, MD, FASCO, Is Shaping the Future of Gynecologic Cancers

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Carolyn D. Runowicz, MD, ­FASCO, has worn just about every hat in the field of oncology—clinician, professor, researcher, administrator, and even cancer survivor.  Currently the Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University in Miami, she has held numerous academic and professional leadership positions, conducted research in gynecologic oncology, and helped to blaze trails for other female oncologists.

“I was at Mount Sinai when platinum-based chemotherapy came out, then at Einstein when Susan B. Horwitz, PhD, [Distinguished Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology] began to describe how paclitaxel worked. I had all these patients who had been on platinum-based chemotherapy, and it stopped working. But we put them on paclitaxel and witnessed another miracle.”

Dr. Runowicz was also involved in researching cisplatin for the treatment of ovarian cancer. “It’s been amazing to see how these drugs absolutely changed how we treat cancer,” she said.

In 2002, Dr. Runowicz became the Director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center to rebuild its cancer program. She had also begun taking leadership roles in several professional societies and accumulating several “firsts.” For instance, she was the first woman to head the traditionally all-male Society of Gynecologic Oncologists. “I had to tread carefully,”...