Charles L. Vogel, M.D., director of the Women’s Center at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at Deerfield Beach, received the AXA Advisors Lifetime Achievement Award Tuesday at the annual Health Care Heroes Awards presented by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Vogel, who is also professor of medicine at the Miller School of Medicine, has devoted most of his 53 years in medical oncology to researching and treating breast cancer.
At the awards luncheon he thanked his colleagues, his wife and family, and a table of patients “who have become friends after a decade or more of working together battling cancer. They represent the 800 women and a few men who are currently entrusting their care to me at Sylvester.”
Dr. Vogel’s career began in Uganda while working with the National Cancer Institute’s Solid Tumor Service. Dr. Vogel became the world’s leading expert in Kaposi’s sarcoma. His early research also focused on the link between Hepatitis B and liver cancer, which eventually was recognized as the leading risk factor around the globe.
In 1975 Charles Gordon Zubrod, M.D., the founding director of what was then the University of Miami Cancer Center, recruited Dr. Vogel to head the Division of Breast Cancer. That was not his area of expertise; in fact, he had never treated anyone with this disease. Dr. Vogel embraced the challenge and is now internationally renowned for his work in breast cancer and considered a key opinion leader.
After 11 years at the cancer center, Dr. Vogel left to conduct clinical research in private practice in South Florida. Based on his findings, he championed the use of Herceptin in metastatic breast cancer and led trials for many other treatments that have received FDA approval.
Dr. Vogel has been back at Sylvester since 2010. And while he has been published in a multitude of medical journals and involved in the development of medications that have advanced the treatment of breast cancer, those are not what he considers his greatest accomplishments.
“I am most proud of how I deal with patients. I am considered a warm, caring physician who will do anything to make his patients more comfortable physically and emotionally,” Dr. Vogel said after learning that he would receive the award.
Dr. Vogel, now 80 years old, has no intention of retiring and is committed to continue working to improve people’s lives.
“What is unique about Charles Vogel is the caring that he brings as a colleague, a mentor and most importantly as a physician to thousands of patients,” said Sylvester Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., adding that no one is more deserving of this award.
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce also recognized Lisa Gwynn, D.O., M.B.A., as a finalist in the Health Care Professionals category and Kymberlee Manni, Ph.D., in the Individuals of Merit Category.
Dr. Gwynn spearheaded the University of Miami’s Pediatric Mobile Clinic, which was established in 1992. The mobile unit goes out into the community and provides free medical care and social services support to nearly 4,000 underserved and uninsured children each year.
“A lot of the kids that live in our community don’t have access to care,” said Dr. Gwynn, associate professor of clinical pediatrics and clinical public health sciences and medical director of the Pediatric Mobile Clinic. “The program is a gem, and I’m privileged to be a part of it all. It’s a really worthwhile project.”
Dr. Manni is the chief operating officer of UHealth Tower and has been the force behind the revamping, renovation and expansion of the flagship hospital of the University of Miami Health System, South Florida’s only academic medical center.
Her work orchestrating the addition of specialized operating rooms, the expansion of the latest technology, and the recruitment of extraordinary team members means patients from South Florida and far beyond have access to the most advanced medical care.
“Kym is a true health care hero for the University of Miami Health System as well as our community,” said Dipen J. Parekh, M.D., chief clinical officer of UHealth. “I have been privileged to work closely with her and experience her dedication, passion, honesty and integrity toward improving patient care as well as provider nurturing.”