Nicholas J. Vogelzang, MD, FACP, FASCO, a giant of genitourinary medical oncology and co-founder of the Kidney Cancer Association (KCA), will retire from his position on the KCA’s Board of Directors effective March 1, 2022. Vogelzang, 72, has served on the KCA’s board since its founding in 1990.
“This is truly the end of a seminal era in the KCA’s 30-year history,” said Gretchen E. Vaughan, KCA President and CEO. “Without Dr. Vogelzang, the KCA simply would not exist to serve the many patients, families, medical professionals, and countless others that it has. For his heart, dedication, and vision for a brighter future for everyone impacted by kidney cancer, we are extremely humbled and grateful. Thanks to Dr. Vogelzang, we are closer than ever to achieving that grand vision.”
“It’s been an utter privilege to work alongside Dr. Vogelzang on the KCA’s board for many years,” said Dr. Bradley C. Leibovich, a urologic oncologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and Chair of the KCA’s Board of Directors. “As the KCA strides into a new era of kidney cancer science, advocacy, and collaboration, there could be no better example of clinical expertise and moral character to follow than Dr. Vogelzang’s.”
While practicing at the University of Chicago in the 1980s, where he developed a reputation for treating kidney cancer patients, Vogelzang realized that his patients could benefit from meeting others with kidney cancer diagnoses. He began hosting informal wine and cheese gatherings of kidney cancer patients, families, and healthcare professionals in the board room at the hospital.
At the time, aside from surgery, there were no treatments for kidney cancer and a diagnosis meant facing a limited future.
Eugene P. Schonfeld, who was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, attended one of these early patient gatherings and recognized their value for both himself and the wider kidney cancer community. Soon after, in 1990, around the Vogelzang’s kitchen table, Schonfeld, Vogelzang, and Vogelzang’s then-wife Jeanne, a lawyer, drew up the papers to incorporate the National Kidney Cancer Association, later known as the Kidney Cancer Association, with a mission to advance science that could cure kidney cancer and support patients and families through the difficult kidney cancer journey. The KCA was the first organization of its kind in the US.
“When we first started meeting, we didn’t predict the KCA would become a worldwide organization,” Vogelzang said. “It just dawned on me that these patients needed a community, a place to share war stories. Our meetings were always packed; we knew we’d tapped into an unmet medical need.”
In addition to steering the organization’s mission and vision, Vogelzang was part of multiple KCA committees, councils, and working groups that brought key resources such as the KCA’s Just Diagnosed Toolkit, which walks patients and providers through the crucial first phases of diagnosis and treatment, and the Patient Navigator Program, which provides one-on-one support to those impacted by kidney cancer, to the community. He has participated in the KCA’s International Kidney Cancer Symposiums and received the KCA’s Eugene P. Schonfeld Award in 2010 in recognition of his accomplishments and advocacy.
Dr. Vogelzang received the 2010 Eugene P. Schonfeld Award for his commitment to the kidney cancer community, presented to him by the late Dr. Christopher G. Wood, former Chairman of the KCA’s Board of Directors.
Vogelzang spoke often about the importance of putting key resources into the hands of patients and providers alike, knowing that they must work together to solve problems. His work with the KCA to put these ideas into practice was a natural extension of his clinical practice and his personal values.
“My dad was a pastor and my mom a teacher, so service to others was a big part of my family,” Vogelzang said. “Church was a big part of our lives, academic excellence was strongly emphasized, and curiosity was always encouraged. My siblings and I share a deep commitment to service to others.”
Vogelzang received his medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Rush University Medical Center, and did a fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Minnesota. As kidney cancer has evolved from a largely fatal diagnosis to one where patients have seen increased survival rates and can benefit from a variety of treatment options, multiple clinical trials, and a far greater understanding of kidney cancer biology and genetics, he has been a consistent voice of advocacy, education, and inspiration.
Vogelzang will be named an Emeritus member of the KCA’s board and will continue his practice at the Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada in Las Vegas, where he chairs medical oncology.
“I have great pride in what the KCA has accomplished thus far and, though I know our important work is not over, I have great hope for the future,” he said. “The KCA will remain a trusted resource that I’ll continue to share with my own patients and fellow medical professionals, and it will always hold a special place in my heart.”
About the Kidney Cancer Association
The Kidney Cancer Association is a global community dedicated to serving and empowering patients and caregivers, and leading change through advocacy, research, and education in order to be the universal leader in finding the cure for kidney cancer. Founded in 1990 by Eugene P. Schonfeld and a small group of patients and doctors in Chicago, Illinois, the KCA has grown into an international non-profit organization based in Houston, Texas. The KCA promotes scientific advances through two annual research symposiums and a robust grant program, participates in legislative advocacy, and seeks to be a source of education and resources for patients, caregivers, and anyone impacted by kidney cancer.
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