University of Vermont

The University of Vermont Cancer Center

Verschraegen Named Krakoff Endowed Green & Gold Professor

Irwin Krakoff, M.D., and Claire Verschraegen, M.D.
Irwin Krakoff, M.D., and Claire Verschraegen, M.D., at the announcement of Dr. Verschraegen being named the first Krakoff Green & Gold Professor at the Vermont Cancer Center. (Photo by Sally McCay, UVM Photography)

Claire Verschraegen, M.D., M.S., F.A.C.P., interim director of the Vermont Cancer Center (VCC) and professor and chief of hematology/oncology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, has been named the Irwin H. Krakoff, M.D., Endowed Green & Gold Professor at the VCC. The appointment was announced at a reception held at UVM’s Davis Center on November 14, 2011.

Named in honor of Irwin H. Krakoff, M.D., the founding director of the VCC, this endowment was established in 2006 through a lead gift from the Lake Champlain Cancer Research Organization and the generous support of Krakoff’s family members, friends, colleagues and former trainees around the nation. The fund’s aim is to support an outstanding UVM faculty member who is affiliated with the VCC and conducts cancer research. The Krakoff Professor is appointed for a term of five years.

Krakoff launched his research career at the two institutions that became Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he served as a research fellow and subsequently became chief of medical oncology and chief of chemotherapy. He was a pioneer in the field of chemotherapy, working at the forefront of establishing safe methods to test anticancer compounds, and made significant contributions to the understanding of drug metabolism and the ability to prevent once-severe side effects associated with treatments for leukemia and lymphoma. He came to New England and Vermont as the VCC’s first director in 1976, and served in this capacity until 1983. He later became the head of the division of medicine at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, retiring in 1993.

Verschraegen, who joined UVM and the VCC in June 2011, is a board-certified oncologist who specializes in rare cancers, such as mesothelioma, metastatic melanomas, sarcomas, and gynecologic malignancies, as well as the study of new anticancer drugs and treatments for solid tumors. She earned her medical degree at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and trained at the Institute Bordet, and then completed a medical oncology residency and fellowship under Krakoff’s leadership at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, where she joined the faculty. In 2002, she was recruited to the Cancer Research and Treatment Center at the University of New Mexico (UNM), where she served as a professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology and director of Translational Therapeutics and Clinical Research at UNM. Verschraegen also served as head of the Clinical Protocol and Data Management Core at the UNM Cancer Center, which received National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation in 2005, and was the principal investigator for the New Mexico Minority-based Community Clinical Oncology Program, which offers participation to NCI-sponsored clinical trials to all New Mexicans, who receive cancer care at affiliated private oncology practices throughout the state.