Acclaimed researcher/physician Larry Kwak honored by Korean American group

January 15, 2016

Kwak will receive the first Korean American Graduate Medical Association Health Hero Award

Letisia Marquez
[email protected]

DUARTE, Calif. — Physician and scientist Larry W. Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., director of City of Hope’s Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center, will receive the first Korean American Graduate Medical Association (KAGMA) Health Hero Award on Saturday, Jan. 16. The award recognizes exceptional medical leaders who have made a significant impact in his or her field.

Kwak will receive the award during KAGMA’s inaugural Korean American Health Conference in Los Angeles.

“Dr. Kwak’s stellar accomplishments as a physician and scientist have been recognized internationally, and it is an honor for us to present to him with the KAGMA Health Hero Award,” said David S. Kim, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., president of KAGMA. “His contributions to medicine are exemplary, and this award gives us a chance to introduce him to the Korean American community in Southern California.”

A committed physician, scientist and mentor, Kwak is known for his ability to assemble and lead research teams, integrating basic discoveries in academic laboratories with translational clinical development. He has brought to fruition a number of first-in-human clinical trials of novel therapeutics, such as next-generation cancer immune therapies. In 2010, Kwak was named to TIME magazine’s TIME100 as one of the world’s 100 most influential people for his 20-year commitment to the science of cancer immunotherapy.

As a key leader within City of Hope’s Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute since April 2015, Kwak is shaping the next generation of research and treatments for all types of lymphoma. He sets scientific priorities and guides the development of new approaches to treating lymphoma and related diseases, especially those involving immune-based treatments.

Kwak also serves in the dual leadership role of inaugural associate director for developmental therapeutics and translational research for City of Hope’s National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center. He holds the title of the Dr. Michael Friedman Professor in Translational Medicine.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this inaugural award from a group of esteemed colleagues,” Kwak said. “I look forward to working closely with KAGMA on increasing awareness of health problems in Asian American communities, and forming partnerships to address those challenges.”

Kwak joined City of Hope from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he served as chairman of the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma and as co-director of the Center for Cancer Immunology Research. Prior to his role at M.D. Anderson, Kwak served as head of the Vaccine Biology Section, Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch, at the NCI for 12 years, and his laboratory was credited with the bench-to-clinic development of a therapeutic cancer vaccine for B-cell malignancies.

Kwak received his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School and earned his Ph.D. in tumor cell biology there in 1984. He also completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical oncology at Stanford University Medical Center in California.

KAGMA, a nonprofit organization, is one of the largest Korean American physician organizations in California. Its primary mission is to improve healthcare outcomes in the Korean American and Asian American community.  

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About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the nation. City of Hope’s main hospital is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with community clinics in southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation and genetics.