Dr. Richard Wender
MD, chief cancer control officer, American Cancer Society
Dr. Richard Wender is widely recognized as a visionary thinker and bold leader who has spent more than three decades helping the American Cancer Society fulfill its mission to eradicate cancer.
Working first as a volunteer, Dr. Wender led highly effective local level efforts for 21 years. In 2006, he became the first primary care physician to be elected as national president of the society, and in 2013 he was named its first chief cancer control officer.
In this role, Dr. Wender is advancing the company’s mission by focusing on strategies that can reach the most people and save the most lives. He also serves as chairman of the National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable, a coalition founded by the ACS and the CDC to reduce the incidence of and mortality from colorectal cancer in the U.S.
Under Dr. Wender’s guidance, in 2014 the coalition launched 80% by 2018, its land-mark public health campaign to ensure 80% of adults aged 50 and older are screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Thanks in no small part to Dr. Wender’s leadership and ability to inspire and unite people, the campaign has become one of the most successful public health initiatives of all time.
As of early August, more than 1,500 organizations had signed the pledge and 65 health plans, community health centers, and practices had achieved the 80%. The first national survey after the campaign launched revealed a 3.78 million increase in screenings in 2015 alone, a result that’s estimated to avert 37,200 deaths.
In addition to his extensive work in cancer prevention and screening, Dr. Wender has done pioneering work on the Patient Centered Medical Home, built programs for the homeless and for refugees in his home city of Philadelphia, and more.
And through it all, he has still continued to see patients.