ALLG Member, haematologist and clinical researcher awarded AM for service to the blood cancer community
A preeminent expert in blood cancer, Professor Mark Hertzberg who has dedicated his life and career to advancing the medicine and science of leukaemia, lymphoma and other blood disorders in Australia, has been awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AM). The award recognises those with “distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or to humanity at large”.
Professor Mark Hertzberg (MBBS, PhD FRACP FRCPA) is the Professor of Haematology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and the Head of Department at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. He was nominated for the AM by the Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG) in recognition of his contribution to the field of clinical trials and translational research into blood cancers in Australia and internationally.
Because of his work, Australians have access to new and better treatments. His work has impacted thousands and lead to a significant survival benefit for the many different types of blood cancers,” explained Ms Delaine Smith, CEO of the ALLG. The for-purpose organisation, ALLG runs local and international clinical trials to deliver new treatments for Australasian patients with haematological malignancies (blood cancer).
“Prof Hertzberg’s clinical and laboratory expertise in haematology and pathology have led to numerous discoveries and moved blood cancer research in Australia further than before,” said Ms Smith. “There is no doubt that his legacy is and will continue to be the foundation upon which future generations of Australians will develop new treatments, enhance survival and improve quality of life for patients with blood cancer.”
The professor voluntarily dedicated his time and expertise to the ALLG and its network of members, blood cancer clinician researchers. He was voted in as ALLG’s Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee and the High-Grade Lymphoma Disease Group in 2010 until – 2017, and he continues to make significant contributions to research through the mentoring of junior doctors and through continued leadership to clinical trials.
Prof Hertzberg said, “It’s an incredible privilege to receive this award. Throughout my career I’ve met wonderful people and have had extraordinary opportunities that I would never have anticipated when I started out. It’s particularly satisfying working in clinical medicine and research for patients with blood cancer.”
“I owe much to the encouragement of my local and national colleagues and my family. It has enabled me to develop great friendships over the years with haematologist ALLG members, and staff,” he said. “I’m grateful to them for their support, friendship, and collegiality.”
“It’s the people with whom you work and the personal interactions with colleagues that I enjoy most,” Prof Hertzberg explained. “They make it possible and worthwhile. Much of the successes derive from turning up and participating. You don’t have to have grandiose plans. Opportunities had landed my way that I never expected, and I’ve accepted those opportunities when they arose. It’s about the people whom you encounter along the way, and the friendships you establish. These make it all very possible.”
Several of his peers, members of ALLG, nominated the professor for his AM. Prof Harry Iland had encouraged Prof Hertzberg’s early interest in haematology. “He has made an outstanding and influential contribution in the field of clinical haematology, at both national and international levels and has had a profound and enduring impact on the lives of countless individuals.”
Prof Andrew Grigg said, “Mark is a selfless, caring, sensitive and generous man, and he has passed these attributes onto his professional life. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient. He has spent an enormous amount of his personal time over 20 years selflessly contributing to the work of the ALLG despite the pressures of also practising as a haematologist, running a major transplant programme, leading a molecular haematology laboratory, educating clinicians and researchers, and lecturing as a national expert on lymphoma.”
Prof Judith Trotman also nominated the professor. “He is a true leader, as Australia’s foremost expert in lymphoma,” she said. “Under his leadership the ALLG clinical trial portfolio has grown into a global leader in blood cancer clinical trials, increasing the access of Australian patients to lifesaving and life-changing therapies.”
“He designed a key study assessing the impact of PET-CT-directed therapy in aggressive lymphoma, which had significant practice-changing impact on the management of patients with this lymphoma nationally,” Prof Trotman explained. “On a personal level, Mark has been generous in his advice over the management of patients with challenging lymphoma, and a mentor to me and many early-career researchers.”