The work of a physician-scientist is wholly unique: doggedly pursuing innovative research to find new treatments for the patients in their care. It is a calling; as much a vocation as a career path. Perhaps no one embodied that calling more than Dr. Oliver “Ollie” Press, Past Chair of the LRF Scientific Advisory Board and long-time SAB member, who passed this weekend from complications from glioma.
Ollie was internationally known for his expertise in lymphoma and other blood cancers, playing a pivotal role in the development of numerous targeted cancer therapies. He was a member of the Lymphoma Working Group and the Southwestern Oncology Group from 1989 to 2017. He was Co-Chair of the National Cancer Institute Steering Committee for Lymphoma Research from 2009 to 2014. He has had many grants including an NCI Program Project Grand, PO1CA044991 from 1998 to 2017, on the “Therapy of Lymphoma/Leukemia with Monoclonal Antibodies,” which was competitively renewed five times. He had 43 completed mentor awards.
He has also been widely recognized for his mentorship of early career scientists and physicians, a legacy which will continue through the LRF Press Fellowship, a grant program for early career scientists pursuing a career in lymphoma research.
He began his career after training at the University of Washington, Seattle in 1982 where he remained through 2017. Throughout his illustrious career, Ollie held many positions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, including Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering, both at UW. For more than three years, Ollie served as Fred Hutchinson’s acting Senior Vice President and the Acting Director of Fred Hutchinson’s Clinical Research Division, the institution’s largest scientific division. He was an Associate Director, Medical Scientist Training Program from 1991 to 2006. He was Acting Senior Vice President, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center from 2013-2016 and was the holder Giuliani/Press Endowed Chair Cancer Research from 2016 to present.
Ollie was a member of the LRF SAB from 1999-2015. He served as chair of LRF’s Scientific Advisory Board from 2006 – 2008, and following his term as SAB Chair, he continued to serve on the SAB as a general member, including a term as Chair of LRF’s Follicular Lymphoma Initiative, before retiring from the SAB in 2015. In 2007, he received LRF’s Ellen Glesby Cohen Leadership Award, and in 2009, he received the Foundation’s prestigious Founders award, the Freundlich Leadership Award. This fall, LRF was honored to bestow its Distinguished Service Award to Nancy and Ollie Press, for their leadership and invaluable contributions to research, to the organization, and to the lymphoma community.
He was the epitome of an academic physician. He has had innumerable awards which will include this year’s John Ultmann Award for Contributions to Lymphoma Research, the SSAS Foundation for Medical Research, 2017 and the American Society of Hematology Mentor Award in 2017.
The Foundation and the lymphoma community note with sadness the loss of this incredible man. Dr. Press was extraordinarily respected by his colleagues in the field nationally and internationally. He had phenomenal passion for research, patients, and trainees. His genuineness, spirit, intellectual curiosity, desire to help patients, mentorship abilities, and sincerity were all so special. His personal mission was exceptional science, compassionate and high-quality care, and teaching the next generation. He was widely loved and will be missed by all.
– Michael Werner, Chair, Board of Directors
– Tom Habermann, MD, Chair, Scientific Advisory Board
– Meghan Gutierrez, Chief Executive Officer