Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL – Grateful for the life-saving care they received at Loyola Medicine, Peter and Heidi Huizenga have made a generous gift to further oncology research and to honor Kathy Albain, MD, FACP, FASCO.

The gift will fund the Huizenga Family Endowed Chair in Oncology Research at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Albain is the first professor to hold the chair.

“The appointment to a named and endowed chair is among the highest academic recognitions for a University faculty member. Dr. Albain is an accomplished clinician scientist who is dedicated to improving human health, and we are thrilled to be presenting her with this most deserving honor,” said Margaret Faut Callahan, CRNA, PhD, FNAP, FAAN, provost, Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division.

An investiture ceremony for Dr. Albain was held May 31 at Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Translational Research and Education in Maywood.

The gift will enable Dr. Albain to devote more time to cancer research, said Larry M. Goldberg, president & CEO of Loyola University Health System. “This gift also is in recognition of the outstanding contributions Dr. Albain has made as a physician, researcher, teacher and mentor.”

Mrs. Huizenga credits Dr. Albain for successfully treating her for cancer and twice saving her life. First, in 2003, Dr. Albain diagnosed and treated Mrs. Huizenga for breast cancer. In a follow-up exam two years later, Dr. Albain discovered tumors in Mrs. Huizenga’s neck, which proved to be an indolent form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2008, an inoperable tumor was found on the optic nerve of Mrs. Huizenga’s eye. The tumor could not be biopsied, but Dr. Albain’s earlier diagnosis helped identify the growth as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The cancer was treated successfully by Patrick Stiff, MD, director of Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center.

 Dr. Albain has become Mrs. Huizenga’s close friend as well as her physician.

“Kathy treats the body and nurtures the human spirit,” Mrs. Huizenga said. “She takes time with each patient, listens to their concerns and makes the correct diagnosis. Dr. Albain carries this dedication, thoroughness and work ethic into her research. Her strong Christian commitment also is very evident in her professional life.”

Peter Huizenga added, “Heidi and I are very pleased to support Dr. Albain’s contributions in research and medical services. The endowed chair provides her with the recognition and resources she so richly deserves.  She has been a great help to me as well.”

Dr. Albain said the therapies used to treat Mrs. Huizenga were made possible by the type of research the Huizenga endowed chair will fund. 

“I’m extremely honored to be appointed to the first Huizenga endowed chair,” Dr. Albain said. “I greatly appreciate the Huizenga family’s support, both for my research and for that of faculty members who will hold this chair in the future.”

Dr. Albain is a professor in the division of hematology/oncology in the department of medicine of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She is director of Loyola’s breast clinical research program, co-director of the multidisciplinary breast oncology center and director of the thoracic oncology program.

Dr. Albain is a leader in national clinical trials of new treatments for breast and lung cancer. She also studies cancer survivorship. She chaired the Committee on Special Populations for SWOG, a National Cancer Institute cooperative research group, since the committee’s inception. Dr.  Albain is a member of SWOG’s working groups for breast and lung cancer, devoting her career to research in both diseases, and also sits on SWOG’s Cancer Prevention and Control Executive Committee. She is a member of the international Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group and its Steering Committee. She served on the National Cancer Institute Concept Evaluation Panel for lung cancer.  She was a charter member of the NIH Committee on Research on Women’s Health and completed a four-year term on the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee of the FDA, followed by service as a consultant to the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Dr. Albain is an author of nearly 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals and textbooks. She is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP) and a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO).

Dr. Albain was co-valedictorian of her high school and graduated summa cum laude from Wheaton College. She earned her medical degree from University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Albain completed a residency in internal medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center and a fellowship in hematology/oncology at University of Chicago. She was granted tenure at Loyola in 2005 and appointed Dean’s Scholar in 2011.

Dr. Albain is a member of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in River Forest, Illinois and enjoys travel, reading and fitness training.

Mrs. Huizenga is a graduate of DePauw University.  She has served on the board of Loyola’s president’s advisory council and has volunteered with many Christian, civic and educational organizations, including Prison Fellowship, which was founded by Chuck Colson. The Huizengas live in Oak Brook, Illinois and have four children and 10 grandchildren.

Mr. Huizenga graduated from University of Illinois College of Law in 1963 and practiced law for eight years. During that time he became one of the founders of Waste Management, where he spent a career as vice president, secretary and member of the board of directors. In 1990, Mr. Huizenga retired from Waste Management and established Huizenga Capital Management, an Oak Brook-based financial services business. He also has chaired and served on many civic, educational and Christian organizations.