Last month, Thomas Imperiale, MD, was one of five IU faculty members named Distinguished Professor, which is the university’s highest academic honor. Imperiale is a widely renowned expert in colorectal cancer screening and prevention whose work has, in the words of President Whitten, “saved millions of lives.”
Imperiale, who is a Professor of Medicine and member of the IU Simon Cancer Center, said the appointment was both “a deep honor, and very humbling.”
Indeed, humility appears to be one of Imperiale’s guiding values.
“The topic of screening for colorectal cancer is most definitely a world-wide team lift,” Imperiale said. “In my own research, I have relied heavily on my co-investigators and colleagues, and some of the ‘distinguished professorship’ belongs to each one of them.”
Imperiale joined the faculty at IU in 1996. Since then, his efforts have significantly shaped the current landscape of colorectal cancer screening in the US and abroad, according to Mohammad Al-Haddad, MD.
“His ongoing efforts continue to enhance the quality of colorectal cancer screening, and have directly led to the decline in the incidence of this once-top killer cancer,” said Al-Haddad, who is interim director of the Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology.
Charles Kahi, MD, who is currently working with Imperiale on a project studying colorectal cancers that occur after negative colonoscopies, agrees.
“[Imperiale’s] work has been foundational, particularly in establishing colonoscopy and the multi-target stool DNA test as front-line modalities for colorectal cancer screening,” he said.
And yet, Imperiale says that the accomplishment he’s most proud of is coming to IU.
“This is where I’ve had the opportunity and ability to make meaningful contributions in patient care, teaching, and research,” he said.
Currently, Imperiale is working on multiple projects related to the prevention and detection of colorectal cancer. He also continues to teach–and to learn.
“I treat my students like colleagues, and try to be clear with them that I am still–and will always be–a student,” he said.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Hannah Calkins is the communications manager for the Department of Medicine.