Alexander M. Spence Chair in Neuro-oncology
The Alexander M. Spence Chair in Neuro-oncology was established in 2010 to enable the University to recruit and retain distinguished faculty in neuro-oncology. This endowment was created by the late Ellsworth C. Alvord, Jr., M.D., and his wife, Nancy D. Alvord, and it honors an old friend and colleague of Dr. Alvord’s, the late Dr. Alexander M. Spence.
Dr. Spence was born in Lincoln, Neb., on Dec. 22, 1940. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1961 and from the University of Chicago School of Medicine in 1965, having been elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and awarded the Joseph Capps Award for Clinical Proficiency. A rotating internship at the University of Oregon (1965–66) and a neurology residency at the Children’s and Peter Bent Brigham Hospitals in Boston (1966–69) were followed by two years at Carswell Air Force Base in Texas (1969–71), certification in neurology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1971, and a residency and NINDS Special Fellowship in Neuropathology at Stanford University Medical Center under Dr. Lucien Rubinstein (1971–74).
Dr. Spence came to the University of Washington School of Medicine in 1974 as an assistant professor of medicine (neurology) and of pathology (neuropathology). He became an associate professor in 1979 and a professor in 1987; in 1991, Dr. Spence became an adjunct professor of neurological surgery.
Dr. Spence was a member of numerous national medical societies (Academy of Neurology, 1971; American Association of Neuropathologists, 1976; American Neurological Association, 1982; Radiation Research Society, 1984; Society of Nuclear Medicine, 1986: International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, 1988; American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Joint Section on Tumors, 1988 (adjunct member); North American Society for Neuro-oncology, 1994). Dr. Spence was also a member of the Puget Sound Oncology Consortium, the Southwest Oncology Group Brain Committee and the North American Brain Tumor Consortium. Of special note is his leadership on the Neuro-oncology Tumor Board for the University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals, where, as a dedicated, compassionate physician with enthusiasm for research in nuclear medicine and imaging techniques, he guided the treatment of thousands of patients with brain tumors. In fact, it is his clinical leadership that inspired the creation of the Center of Excellence in the Theory and Practice of Neuro-oncology. Dr. Spence passed away in 2010.
This chair is one of six honorary positions that will help lay the groundwork for the creation of UW Medicine’s Nancy and Buster Alvord Brain Tumor Center. This center will be dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system tumors, and its faculty will coordinate the efforts of several departments involved in patient care and research in neuro-oncology. The Alexander M. Spence Chair in Neuro-oncology will improve research regarding the diagnosis and treatment of patients, especially (but not limited to) those with brain tumors.
The Alvords and other members of the extended Alvord family have shown tremendous dedication to UW Medicine. With many gifts made to support research, faculty positions and patient care, members of the Alvord family have made generous investments in the Department of Neurology, Harborview Medical Center and other areas at UW Medicine. The creation of this chair also adds to the Alvord family’s already substantial legacy to UW Medicine.
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