UVM Invests Holcombe as Inaugural J. Walter Juckett Chair in Cancer Research

November 3, 2021 by Christina Davenport

With $3 million in support from a longtime major supporter of the University of Vermont Cancer Center, Randall F. Holcombe, M.D., M.B.A., was invested as the inaugural J. Walter Juckett Chair in Cancer Research in the Larner College of Medicine on November 3.

Randall Holcombe, M.D., M.B.A. (Photo: Andy Duback)

With $3 million in support from a longtime major supporter of the University of Vermont Cancer Center, Randall F. Holcombe, M.D., M.B.A., was invested as the inaugural J. Walter Juckett Chair in Cancer Research in the Larner College of Medicine on November 3. The formal ceremony marks Holcombe’s stature as a national cancer care leader and the respect the Juckett Foundation holds for the Cancer Center’s mission to prevent, treat, and cure cancer, evidenced by this significant investment.

Leaders from the University of Vermont and UVM Medical Center joined special guests for the event held in the College of Medicine’s Health Science Research Facility.

The Juckett Foundation has provided decades of support to the UVM Cancer Center, helping to improve cancer outcomes for patients across Vermont and Northern New York. In establishing the Juckett Chair, the Foundation’s board of trustees has taken a major step forward in realizing their shared vision of an evolved UVM Cancer Center that has an even more significant impact on the people of this region. Juckett Foundation board member Jerome Yates, M.D., says UVM has found a dynamic new leader in Dr. Holcombe, with the experience to lead and transform the Cancer Center.    

“It’s critical in every institution to have a foundation of support for quality teachers and investigators, but also to provide some organizational stability, and that's the hope with the J. Walter Juckett Chair,” said Yates. “It allows for time that can be devoted to building and rebuilding the [UVM] Cancer Center.”

J. Walter Juckett founded and led the Sandy Hill Corporation and Sandy Hill Foundation of Hudson Falls, NY, before passing leadership to his protégé, Floyd Rourke. In 1979, ten years after losing his beloved wife Elizabeth to cancer, Juckett joined with Rourke to form the Lake Champlain Cancer Research Organization (LCCRO), a partnership with the UVM Medical Center and the UVM Cancer Center, to improve strategies to prevent, detect, and treat cancer. Tragically, both Rourke and Juckett’s mother would also succumb to cancer. The LCCRO was renamed in honor of Juckett, who passed away in 1988. 

“The Juckett Foundation's support has been vital to the research activity of the UVM Cancer Center, and to the betterment of the lives of patients and families across this region,” said Larner College of Medicine Dean Richard L. Page, M.D. “Their gift to support this endowed chair was key to our ability to recruit world-class leadership to take our cancer center to the next level.”

When Holcombe arrived in Vermont in August, he brought with him a reputation for applying innovative thinking to researching and treating cancer within high-risk populations, from 9/11 responders to rural Hawaiians. Since 2016, as director for the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center, he led the institution through a successful National Cancer Institute (NCI) redesignation, a mantle he intends to pick up here in Vermont. Holcombe says his main goal is to build excellence in the research, education, community outreach, and clinical care components of the cancer center over the next several years. He currently serves in dual roles as director of the UVM Cancer Center and chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Medicine. 

“Dr. Holcombe brings an exceptional breadth of experience as a clinical oncologist, educator, scientist, and leader in cancer research and care," said Page. "We anticipate he will have a major impact on our College, Health Network, and region in all facets of cancer care, education, and investigation.”

Holcombe earned an undergraduate degree from Duke University, a medical degree from the New Jersey Medical School, and an M.B.A. from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College. He completed his postdoctoral clinical and research training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Holcombe served as associate director of clinical and translational research at the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and as chief of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the University of California, Irvine, from 1997 through 2010, and as deputy director of the Tisch Cancer Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai from 2010 through 2016. He also served as director of Clinical Cancer Affairs and chief medical officer–cancer for the Mount Sinai Health System.

The UVM Cancer Center is the only academic clinical and research cancer center in Vermont. As its director, Holcombe leads more than 200 clinician-investigators and researchers engaged in a full range of basic, clinical, population-based, and translational research. The Center benefits from partnerships across the University of Vermont’s many schools and colleges, as well as nearly all clinical departments at the UVM Medical Center, expediting discovery, bringing advanced care to patients, and improving quality of life for patients and their families.

“I’m excited to be at the University of Vermont,” said Holcombe. “I see tremendous potential here, and I’m very appreciative of the UVM leadership and the J. Walter Juckett Foundation for their support and for entrusting me with the opportunity to provide leadership for the cancer program.”

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Fundraising for the Larner College of Medicine and the UVM Medical Center is a major focus for the University of Vermont Foundation, a nonprofit corporation established to secure and manage private support for the benefit of the University of Vermont.  More information about the impact of donors like the Juckett Foundation and the work of the UVM Foundation can be found at www.uvmfoundation.org.

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