As part of a celebration of her career, Beverly J. Lange, MD, who recently retired after 40 years of pioneering research and leadership, delivered the third Anna T. Meadows lecture. In her talk, Dr. Lange discussed her work with chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction while also highlighting some of the accomplishments of her time at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dr. Lange "played many, many critical roles," at CHOP and in the scientific community during her career, John M. Maris, MD, director of the Center for Childhood Cancer Research, noted in his introduction.
After receiving her medical degree from Temple University, Dr. Lange began her research training at Children's Hospital, working on Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). After her work on EBV, Dr. Lange shifted her attention to oncology and leukemia.
During her career, Dr. Lange worked on many aspects of pediatric oncology, including acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). While AML is the second most common form of leukemia in adults, leading to roughly 15,000 new cases and 10,000 deaths every year in the United States, the disease is rare in children, with only 500 to 600 children diagnosed per year.
Since Dr. Lange began working on the disease, AML survival rates have greatly increased, with the 5-year survival rate now around 85 percent.
During her lecture, Dr. Lange focused on her recent work studying how cancer therapy impacts pediatric patients' cognitive function. Chemotherapy-related cognitive dysfunction (CRCD) affects approximately half of all survivors of childhood cancers, and often shows no symptoms for 2-5 years after a tumor is initially diagnosed. Research into this condition, which affects both children and adults, has been hampered by the high cost and inadequacy of available testing methods, Dr. Lange has said.
In addition to the need for improved assessments of CRCD, there is also a need for "more and more feasible trials," to better understand CRCD's effects, Dr. Lange said. "We need to make CRCD a priority for families."
After officially retiring in late 2012, Dr. Lange is now emeritus professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, and splits her time between Philadelphia and Venice, Italy.