An international leader in the field of pediatric cancer, Dr. Melissa Hudson, ’83, has been named the 2011 Distinguished Alumnus/a of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
Established in 1987, the purpose of the award is to recognize outstanding contributions in the areas of medical science and education, or the prevention and treatment of diseases, as well as continued interests in the Medical School and its students.
Hudson has distinguished herself in the field of pediatric oncology, specifically in the area of pediatric Hodgkin’s lymphoma and survivorship. She has published widely on her research initiatives in pediatric Hodgkin lymphoma, late treatment sequelae after childhood cancer, and health education of childhood cancer survivors.
She said she was “surprised and delighted” upon receiving news that she had won the award. “It’s wonderful to have my work in survivorship recognized,” she added.
The director of the Cancer Survivorship Division of the Department of Oncology at University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Medicine, Hudson also directs the After Completion of Therapy (ACT) Clinic at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, is a member of the Department of Oncology at St. Jude’s, and holds an endowed chair in oncology-cancer survivorship.
She became the director of the ACT Clinic in 1993, which monitors over 5,000 long-term childhood cancer survivors treated on St. Jude trials. As director, the ACT Clinic evaluation has evolved to include a series of focused educational interventions aiming to increase survivor knowledge about cancer and its associated health risks and motivate the practice of health protective behaviors.
“During her tenure at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. Hudson has become an established expert on childhood cancer survivorship and treatment’s late effects, areas of notable clinical relevance with the swell in pediatric cancer survivors over the last few decades,” wrote her nominator. “Additionally, Dr. Hudson is known as an exceptional clinician, committed mentor, generous collaborator, and beloved colleague.”
Hudson received her bachelor‘s of science degree from Texas A&M University, completed a residency at the Medical School, and a fellowship in pediatric hematology-oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She joined St. Jude’s and the University of Tennessee in 1989.
Graduating from the Medical School in 1983, she said she remembers the Medical School as the “new kid on the block” in the Texas Medical Center.
“Many of the professors and teachers were young, very approachable, and did a great job of exhibiting balance in their careers and personal life. I also remember diversity among my classmates—some had been accepted to medical school after having other careers. The diversity of their previous training and backgrounds made our classes and study groups interesting. And, of course, the hours and hours of studying with my fellow students, especially my husband (we married after the first year),” she said.
With many clerkship rotations through MD Anderson, Hudson said she found her niche on the pediatric service.
“It was a joy to see patients achieve long-term survival after a diagnosis of cancer,” she explained. “This experience provided the opportunity to manage both acute and chronic health issues in children and adolescents. It was some years later that I gained more appreciation about the ‘costs’ so many patients and their families paid for survival.”
Today, Hudson is involved in numerous funded research projects from the National Cancer Institute, and her research interests include protocol development and clinical investigations in Hodgkin lymphoma, late effects of cancer therapy, and health education and promotion in childhood cancer survivors.
She is also the chair of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study Education Committee and the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Cancer Survivorship Committee.
A ceremony will be held May 14 during the Medical School Reunion weekend to honor Hudson’s achievements. To register, and for more details about the reunion, please see the website.