Deaths: Howard Ozer

Dr. Howard Ozer

Howard Ozer, former cancer researcher, clinician, professor and leader at UIC, died April 6. He was 71.

Ozer, who specialized in treatment of blood cancers, is internationally known for his work on biological therapies for cancer. He made significant developments in research related to blood cell growth factors and cytokines. He also conducted clinical trials in leukemia and lymphoma.

Ozer’s leadership role at UIC began in 2010, when he joined the faculty as the Eileen Lindsay Heidrick professor in oncology and chief of hematology/oncology. Soon after, in 2012, he assumed the role of director of the UI Cancer Center for two years.

In 2017, Ozer was named a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Only ASCO members who show extraordinary dedication and service to the field of cancer and cancer patients are awarded this title.

He was grateful for the title and the support.

“In my 37 years in oncology and hematology, I’ve been able to witness and participate in clinical trials that cure and ameliorate many different kinds of tumors, and save many patients’ lives,” Ozer said in an interview last year. “To be recognized in this fashion by the American Society of Clinical Oncology whose membership was responsible for so many of these advances is truly an honor.”

Before coming to UIC, Ozer held many other leadership roles. At the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, he was Eason chair and section chief of hematology/oncology. He was also director of Oklahoma’s cancer center. During his time there, the center received a planning grant and grant renewal from the National Cancer Institute.

At Roswell Park Cancer Institute, he was associate professor of medicine. He moved after to become division chief of oncology for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and associate director for clinical affairs at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

He was director of Emory University’s Winship Cancer Center and director of the Cancer Center at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Ozer graduated from Yale University, where he earned an M.D. and Ph.D. and completed a training program in microbiology/immunology. He interned and completed his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. He received fellowship training in hematology/oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Colleagues Patricia Finn, head of the department of medicine, and Damiano Rondelli, division chief of hematology/oncology, reflected on Ozer’s successful career and life.

“Dr. Ozer’s passion for research and clinical studies made him also a senior leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Working Group at UIC and the director of the UI Health Tumor Registry,” Finn and Rondelli wrote in an email. “Howard was a great colleague, always smiling, willing to collaborate, and also to share his passion for Africa and hunting. He will be sincerely missed.”

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