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The Ralph H. Hruban, M.D. Professorship in Pancreatic Cancer Research

School of Medicine

Established in 2018 by ten friends of Ralph H. Hruban, M.D. in his honor

RALPH H. HRUBAN, M.D., an internationally recognized pathologist and pancreatic cancer researcher, was named the ninth Baxley Professor and Director of the Department of Pathology on July 1, 2015. A 1985 graduate of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, he completed his residency training at Johns Hopkins and a fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center before joining the Johns Hopkins Pathology faculty in 1990. Dr. Hruban has taken a collaborative approach to his research and, in 2013, 2017 and 2020, received the Team Science Award from the American Association for Cancer Research. His research has helped define and characterize the precursor lesions that give rise to invasive pancreatic cancer and has helped advance our understanding of why pancreatic cancer runs in some families.  Dr. Hruban founded The National Familial Pancreas Tumor Registry at Johns Hopkins and has directed the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center since its inception in 2005. The Goldman Center includes many of the world’s leading experts in pancreatic cancer and is where many of the fundamental genetic changes that drive pancreatic cancer have been discovered. In a career spanning nearly four decades, Dr. Hruban has received numerous awards for his work including the Ramzi S. Cotran Young Investigator Award for significant contributions to the diagnosis and understanding of human disease, the PanCAN Medical Visionary Award, the Arthur Purdy Stout Prize for significant career achievements in surgical pathology, the Ranice W. Crosby Distinguished Achievement Award for scholarly contributions to the advancement of art as applied to the medical sciences, the Fred W. Stewart Award for outstanding contributions in advancing our knowledge in human cancer, and the 2013 Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2013, he was also elected a member of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. He has published more than 850 scientific papers and been recognized each of the last eight years by the Institute for Scientific Information as a highly cited researcher. Dr. Hruban has received five teaching awards from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, including the Educational Innovation Award. He has written and edited 10 books. Dr. Hruban helped create the Johns Hopkins Pancreatic Cancer website, as well as an award-winning iPad application to teach pancreas pathology. In 2012, he received the Frank H. Netter Award for Special Contributions to Medical Education from the Association of Medical Illustrators. Truly passionate about Johns Hopkins Medicine and its history, in 2011, Dr. Hruban produced an award-winning documentary that aired on most PBS stations about the life of Dr. William Stewart Halsted, a surgeon and one of the original professors in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  His most recent book—A Scientific Revolution: Ten Men and Women Who Reinvented American Medicine.

Held by James Eshleman

JAMES R. ESHLEMAN, M.D., Ph.D. is the inaugural Ralph H. Hruban, M.D. Professor in Pancreatic Cancer Research. He received his medical degree and doctoral degree in anatomy and structural biology (cell biology) at the University of Pennsylvania in 1988. Dr. Eshleman completed an internship in internal medicine at Temple University Hospital and a post-doctoral fellowship with Donna L. George, Ph.D.; residency training in clinical pathology, serving as chief resident; and a fellowship in blood banking and transfusion medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1993, he joined the faculty at Case Western University as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Sanford D. Markowitz, M.D., Ph.D. in the Department of Oncology, where he identified that cancers with microsatellite instability have elevated mutation rates and characterized the types of mutations produced. In 1997, Dr. Eshleman joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine as an assistant professor in the Departments of Pathology and Oncology. He was promoted to associate professor in 2002 and elevated to the rank of professor in 2010. Since his arrival at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Eshleman has led an independently funded research laboratory focused on identifying familial pancreatic cancer predisposition genes, developing and validating tests for pancreatic cancer and, most recently, directly targeting genetic changes in pancreatic cancer. Included among Dr. Eshleman’s many accomplishments are the exome sequencing for 24 pancreatic cancers, for which he and his research team were recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research with the prestigious Team Science Award.  In 2013, he was part of the team that demonstrated that the mutations associated with microsatellite unstable cancers, including pancreatic cancer, could be targeted with immunotherapy.  In 2019, he validated a clinical test for circulating tumor DNA in pancreatic cancer patients and demonstrated its prognostic significance. During his career at Johns Hopkins, he has trained and mentored more than 35 fellows and doctoral candidates, along with dozens of medical students, residents and graduate students. He has received the Johns Hopkins Pathobiology Graduate Program Teaching Award three times. Dr. Eshleman has received numerous grant awards from the National Institutes of Health and other funding sources; served as a reviewer for multiple medical publications; co-authored more than 190 peer-reviewed publications; and authored five book chapters on molecular medicine and the detection of pancreatic cancer.