Remarks by President John J. DeGioia
Honoring the Service and Scholarship of Lombardi Cancer Center Founder Dr. John F. Potter
October 10, 2008
Georgetown University Hospital
Thank you Dr. Weiner for your kind welcome. I am honored to be with you today as we celebrate Dr. John Potter’s outstanding leadership, scholarship, and dedication to the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and to Georgetown University.
I’d like to recognize John’s family here today: his wife, Tanya, an alumna of Georgetown; their children, Tanya Adler (‘78), Miriam Potter Aston (‘81), and John M. Potter (‘83) and his wife, also an alumna of Georgetown, and their grandchildren.
I’d also like to acknowledge and thank:
- Dr. Lou Weiner, current director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center;
- And Dr. John Niederhuber, the Director of the National Cancer Institute and our keynote speaker this afternoon
As a sixty year member of the Georgetown family, Dr. Potter’s influence and contributions—his scholarship and service—have made us a stronger and better community. He was a distinguished professor of oncology and surgery… he founded the Lombardi Cancer Center…he served as its director for 20 years.
Of all of his accomplishments—his exemplary service to our community and to the study of medicine—perhaps his most lasting footprints on the Hilltop are reflected in the creation and development of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
As many of us are aware, Dr. Potter founded the Center in 1970, naming it in honor of the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi. Coach Lombardi had been treated at Georgetown University Hospital, and Dr. Potter had served on his oncology team.
Under his leadership, the Center achieved the distinction of being named a Comprehensive Cancer Center in partnership with Howard University in 1974, becoming only the 16th center in the nation to be given the Comprehensive designation by the National Cancer Institute.
In 1990, the Lombardi Center was designated a single-site Comprehensive Cancer Center…and had this certification renewed in 2003. This is the highest institutional recognition offered by the NCI. It has been achieved by only 40 other comprehensive cancer centers in the United States—and the Lombardi Center is the only one in the Washington DC metropolitan area.
Hippocrates wrote in his Precepts in the 5th century that “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” By creating the Lombardi Center, Dr. Potter created the opportunity—the promise and possibility—for many to receive comprehensive, compassionate and state-of-the art cancer treatment.
In his other work to expand research and treatment options, Dr. Potter has published over 60 scholarly articles and has authored How to Improve you Odds Against Cancer, a guide for prevention and early detection of cancer. Additionally, he has served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Association of American Cancer Institutes.
Dr. Potter has also been the recipient of many awards, including the President’s Medal of Georgetown University. He has served in the U.S. Navy. And he was appointed in 1999 by President Clinton to the “Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences”—an advisory board for the Department of Defense.
Dr. Potter’s life has certainly been one of service. There is no way that we could adequately recognize the exceptional leadership and extraordinary scholarship…the ideals and intellect…the generosity of spirit— and the spirit of engagement—that Dr. John Potter brought to Georgetown, to medicine, and to the treatment of cancer.
As a small gesture of our gratitude, our esteem—and our friendship--it is a privilege to formally announce that the University’s official portrait of Dr. Potter will be proudly and prominently displayed in the Lombardi Center atrium. We will unveil this portrait at the reception after this lecture, and we hope you will all be able to join us. It is now my priviledge to introduce to you the man we honor today…Dr. John Potter.