Feb 242010
 
Authors: Matt Miller

For the last 32 years, Steve Withrow has been paving the way for veterinarians to treat cancer. As founder and director of CSU’s Animal Cancer Center, Withrow has spent the past years making breakthroughs in both animal and human cancer treatment.

On July 1 of this year, Withrow will step down as director of the center and pass the torch to his friend, colleague and student Rodney Page.

“After 32 years at CSU, it is time for me to step down as director of the Animal Cancer Center (ACC) and spend more time on clinical duties, teaching, research and fundraising,” Withrow said.

Page, a CSU graduate who is currently working as director of the Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research at Cornell University, is eager to return to CSU.

“The community at CSU is one I have always wanted to come back to,” Page said. “It’s really a dream job.”

After graduating from CSU in 1981, Page has kept in contact with many faculty members including Withrow, who he will be working closely with over the next three years to smooth the transition between directors.

“CSU’s investment in this overlap speaks to the importance of the program,” Page said. During this overlap Page will wor with Withrow to understand the connections the center has made across campus and the country over the years regarding funding and research.

The ACC is world renown as the leading treatment center for animals with cancer, those at the center said. Although the center focuses on household pets including dogs and cats, it has, in the past, treated zoo animals including a tiger with lymphoma and a shark suffering from skin cancer.

One of the ACC’s main focuses is on transitioning breakthroughs made on animals to help humans suffering from cancer. The Children’s Oncology Group oversees several of the center’s clinical trials, and the School of Medicine at CU-Denver collaborates with the ACC as well.

Withrow is credited with developing a technique used to spare the limbs of dogs that are suffering from osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bones. Doctors treating children diagnosed with osteosarcoma have adopted this technique, which requires that doctors target and remove the tumor in the bone rather than amputate the limb.

“He is one of the true leaders in the field,” Page said of his friend and colleague. “He has always been a great mentor to me.”

Page said he is honored to be working at a center that he considers to be the largest and most prestigious in its field.

“This is something CSU did a very good job of,” said Dan Gustafson, the director of research at the Animal Cancer Center and associate professor of clinical sciences, when asked what he thought of the ACC’s leadership choice. “They put a lot of time and resour ices into finding someone to take over.”

Those at the center are pleased with the decision that has been made and hold both Withrow and Page in the highest regard.

The center currently handles about 8,000 appointments a year and 5,000 consultations to animal owners around the world. Withrow and CSU radiation oncologist Ed Gillette founded the ACC 25 years ago.

Today, it is the only veterinary cancer center to receive funding from the National Cancer Institute for more than 25 years. It also provides 25 percent of the caseloads at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The center’s reputation draws students to CSU from around the country.

“I’m from California, and I knew CSU was known for it’s cancer center,” said Anastasya Carbon, a freshmen veterinary medicine major. “I’m really looking forward to working in the Oncology Department.”

Staff writer Matt Miller can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Meet the Center’s New Director:
Rodney Page
-1981 CSU graduate
-Returning to CSU from the Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research at Cornell University

Information about the Animal Cancer Center
-The center focuses on household pets including dogs and cats.
ACC has treated zoo animals including a tiger with lymphoma and a shark suffering from skin cancer.
-The center currently handles about 8,000 appointments a year and 5,000 consultations to animal owners around the world.
-The ACC is the only veterinary cancer center to receive funding from the National Cancer Institute for more than 25 years.

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