Transition of John H. Glick, MD

May 19, 2021

To:Penn Medicine Community

From:J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, EVP/Dean
Kevin B. Mahoney, CEO UPHS

We write to announce that after nearly five decades of unsurpassed leadership and impact at Penn Medicine, John H. Glick, MD, Professor of Medicine and the Madlyn & Leonard Abramson Professor of Clinical Oncology, will retire at the end of the academic year.

Dr. Glick joined the Penn faculty in 1974 as the Ann B. Young Assistant Professor, after completing fellowships at the National Cancer Institute and Stanford. Over the course of a distinguished career spent entirely at Penn, he has touched the lives of countless thousands of patients and been a guiding force through a transformational era of cancer care. The breadth and depth of his legacy impact every corner of our enterprise — from establishing the medical oncology program as a young physician, to guiding the Abramson Cancer Center to national preeminence and leading it longer than any other Director, to wide-ranging contributions as a researcher, teacher and mentor, fundraiser, talent recruiter, role model, and champion of professionalism.

In all these roles, Dr. Glick has been first and foremost a master clinician. His compassion and clinical insight drove the development of integrated cancer clinical care at Penn Medicine, including the development of psychosocial and nutritional counseling services that led to establishment of the Patient Facilitated Services Program. His clinical acumen and focus on keeping patients’ lives and their needs at the heart of every treatment goal has had broad impact, leading in 2013 to establishment of the Penn Medicine Academy of Master Clinicians to promote and perpetuate clinical excellence in all specialties across our institution.

As Cancer Center director from 1985 – 2006, Dr. Glick made the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) a national model for a comprehensive center, drawing on resources and faculty from Penn and CHOP. The turning point came in 1997, with a transformative gift of $100 million from Leonard and Madlyn Abramson to establish the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute (AFCRI). Dr. Glick met the Abramsons when Madlyn had breast cancer and was his patient. She not only survived her disease but became for decades, until her passing just last year, a guiding spirit for development of a world-class cancer center at Penn. The Abramsons’ philanthropy facilitated an unprecedented expansion of cancer research and faculty recruitment. In the span of less than a decade, a total of 90 new faculty were jointly recruited to multiple departments and the Cancer Center with AFCRI support. In recognition of their impact, the Cancer Center was named the Abramson Cancer Center in 2002.

In addition to his formative leadership of the ACC, Dr. Glick also played an instrumental role in the creation of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, which was established with a pivotal naming gift from Wharton alumnus the late Ralph J. Roberts and wife Suzanne, his son Brian L. Roberts, and Brian’s wife Aileen. Dr. Glick became a driving force in philanthropy at Penn Medicine, culminating in his role as Vice President and Associate Dean for Resource Development. Since 1985, he helped to raise over $600 million for Penn Medicine and the ACC, establishing many centers in partnership with grateful patient philanthropists, including the Rena Rowan Breast Center and the Thalheimer Cardio-Oncology Center and significant funding for the Ruth and Raymond Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. His focus on recruiting top talent has had an equally lasting imprint on Penn Medicine. Over the years, he has chaired the search committees for half of the current clinical department chairs at the Perelman School of Medicine.

As a clinician-scholar, Dr. Glick’s research has mapped standards of care for breast cancer and lymphomas. He pioneered the integration of adjuvant chemotherapy and definitive breast radiotherapy for early stage breast cancer and chaired the pivotal 1985 NCI Consensus Conference on Adjuvant Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer. He subsequently chaired consecutive St. Galen International Consensus Panels for Treatment of Primary Breast Cancer (1988-2011). In 2000 a landmark clinical study published in the NEJM on the role of bone marrow transplant for advanced breast cancer transformed the standard of practice. Dr. Glick also conducted pivotal Phase III randomized trials in Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. His research, which was continuously funded by NIH 1974-2006, has appeared in 165 peer-reviewed publications and 28 chapters and books.

In addition to his impactful research and institutional leadership, Dr. Glick has been a legendary teacher and role model. He has trained and mentored several generations of medical students, residents, and fellows. Three of his fellows went on to become Directors of NCI-designated Cancer Centers – an accomplishment that we know John is particularly proud of during his tenure.

A recognition event is being planned to celebrate Dr. Glick’s extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to Penn Medicine.  In the meantime, please join us in wishing him a most enjoyable and productive retirement, as he assumes emeritus status.