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Dr. Valerie Rusch has been a member of the Thoracic Surgery Service at MSKCC since March 1989. A native New Yorker, she is a graduate of Vassar College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She completed her general surgery and cardiothoracic surgery residencies at the University of Washington in Seattle. After an additional year of experience in thoracic oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center, she returned to the University of Washington where she served on the faculty for six years prior to her appointment at MSKCC. Dr. Rusch was Chief of the MSK Thoracic Service from 2000 to 2013.

Dr. Rusch’s career has been devoted to thoracic surgical oncology and clinical and translational research, especially in the fields of malignant pleural mesothelioma and lung cancer. Over a period of 35 years, she has been principal investigator for trials performed by multiple NCI-sponsored Cooperative Groups, including LCSG, SWOG, RTOG, and ACOSOG, where she also held co- and vice-chair positions. She has been heavily involved with the development of TNM Staging systems for lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma through the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) and is the Chair-Elect of its International Staging and Prognostic Factors Committee. She served as Chair of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery from 2009 to 2011.

Dr. Rusch continues to have a busy clinical practice at MSKCC. In addition, she serves as Vice Chair for Clinical Research in the Department of Surgery, overseeing a large multidisciplinary clinical research program, and as Co-Chair of the Research Council, which is responsible for scientific review of all clinical trials performed at MSKCC. Over many years Dr. Rusch has held multiple leadership positions in the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the world’s largest surgical organization. Among other responsibilities she has served as Chair of the ACS Program Committee and Chair of the Board of Regents, and was the 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. During 2019-2020, she served as President of the ACS, functioning as global ambassador for the College and playing a central role in developing practice guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Thank You

The following generous supporters contributed to the Valerie Rusch Mentored Career Development Award.

Benefactors ($25,000+)


Intuitive Foundation


Pfizer, Inc.

Scanlan International, Inc.

Founding Members ($10,000-$24,999)

Margaret Allen

Yolonda Colson

Jonathan Cools-Lartigue

Raja Flores

Timothy Gardner

Lauren Kane

Rosemary Kelly

M. Blair Marshall

Daniela Molena

Harvey I. Pass

Valerie Rusch

Inderpal Sarkaria

Vaughn Starnes

Mentee Level Supporters ($3,500-$9,999)

Thomas D'Amico

Jessica Donington

Mark Ferguson

Stephanie Fuller

John Howington

Michael Lanuti

Jay Lee

Virginia Litle

Kalpaj Parekh

Richard Pierson, III

Ourania Preventza

Yaron Shargall

Paula Ugalde

Wickii Vigneswaran

Walter Weder

Tracey Weigel

Joseph Woo

Trainee Level Supporters ($1,500-$3,499)

Richard Battafarano

Johnson & Johnson

James D. Luketich

R. Taylor Ripley

Gaetano Rocco

Betty Tong