NANETS Lifetime Achievement Award

The North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual who, over the course of their career, has provided outstanding contributions to neuroendocrine disease management through research, clinical practice or educational initiatives, as well as exceptional leadership in NANETS and dedication to its mission.


Boston University and Boston Medical Center
Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Section of Hematology and Medical Oncology; Co-Director of the Boston University/Boston Medical Center Cancer Center

NANETS is honored to present Matthew Kulke, MD, with the medical society's 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Kulke was the first to report outcomes on a temozolomide-based regimen in NETs when describing his clinical trial of temozolomide plus thalidomide (Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2006), which demonstrated high rates of response in pancreatic NETs. Two years later, he was the first to describe the efficacy of the tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib in NETs (Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2008). The results of that phase II study formed the basis for development of an international phase III study to study sunitinib in pancreatic NETs, ultimately leading to the approval of sutent in that disease. Nearly a decade later, Dr. Kulke served as the lead investigator of the phase III TELESTAR trial (Kulke et al. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2017) which led to approval of telotristat for carcinoid-syndrome diarrhea.  Please click here to access Dr. Kulke's nearly 200 medical publications. 

Upon receiving word of the award, Dr. Kulke had this to say:“I am truly honored to receive this award from the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society. It has been a real privilege to be a part of NANETS as we have worked to improve and expand treatments for patients with neuroendocrine tumors. During our journey together I have gained not just colleagues but also friends, and I will be forever grateful to have had this opportunity.”For the past two decades, Dr. Kulke has been an academic leader in neuroendocrine oncology and a key figure behind many of the advancements in the field.  His impressive publication record in the NET field began auspiciously with an exceptional article published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1999 on carcinoid tumors, summarizing the state of the science at the time. Twenty (20) years, and nearly 250 publications later, several achievements stand out.  

While speaking about how well-deserved this award is, NANETS' President, Emily Bergsland, MD, Medical Oncology, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine said, “This award is so well deserved! Dr. Kulke is one of the world’s leading authorities on neuroendocrine tumors, having spent more than two decades dedicated to advancing the care of NET patients. "He was one of the first providers to develop a multifaceted clinical and translational research program focused on NETs, and he led the development of the first NCCN treatment guidelines for the management of the disease. "His body of work includes lab-based molecular studies to characterize NETs, clinical trials with new therapeutic strategies, and clinical outcomes research.  A global leader, Dr. Kulke’s impact on the field has been profound."He has led or co-led clinical trials leading to the development of nearly every recent treatment advance (including sunitinib, everolimus temozolomide, telotristat ethyl, and peptide receptor radiotherapy).”

According to Jennifer Chan, MD, MPH, Medical Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and NANETS board member, Matthew Kulke, MD's scientific accomplishments were not confined to clinical trials. "At Dana Farber, he mentored a team of clinicians and scientists which published multiple findings on chromosomal alterations in NETs, on dysregulation of CDKN1B, on tumor microenvironment, on mTOR pathway expression, and many other discoveries which have shaped our understanding of NETs on a molecular level.“Dr. Kulke has had a tremendous impact on the field of neuroendocrine tumors and the care of patients with this disease. His investigations have led to the approval of new treatments and have improved our understanding of tumor biology.  "As a past chair of the National Cancer Institute task force on NETs, his leadership and expertise shaped the direction of future clinical trials in NET.  As a mentor, Dr. Kulke has also inspired, encouraged, and guided the next generation of clinicians and scientists to advance the field of NET.” Dr. Kulke was among the founders of NANETS and served as one of the first chairs of the organization. He also chaired the National Cancer Institute (NCI) task force on NETs, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) NET guidelines committee, and served as a key figure in many other NET research, advocacy and patient support organizations.

Jonathan Strosberg, MD, Medical Oncology, Moffitt Cancer Center and NANETS' vice president, had this to say about his colleague:“Matt Kulke has transformed the NET field by investigating new drugs that have substantially improved the treatment landscape for patients with advanced disease.  His contributions to clinical research have been extraordinary.”  


Eastern Virginia Medical School
Director of Research and Neuroendocrine Unit, Murray Waitzer Endowed Chair for Diabetes Research at the EVMS Strelitz Diabetes Center

Dr. Vinik has contributed greatly to the field of NET research throughout his career, with one of the leading labs for assaying biomarkers for diagnosis and follow-up of patients with NETs, and an early adopter of new tests showing promise. He has had a great scholarly output on NETs. In 2014, he first reported the results of a multi-institutional phase 3 study of efficacy and safety of lanreotide autogel/depot (LAN) treatment for carcinoid syndrome in patients with neuroendocrine tumors (ELECT trial), which ultimately led to FDA approval of Lanreotide for U.S. carcinoid patients.

Through years of dedication and perseverance into islet regenerative medicine, Dr. Vinik led the discovery of a gene that stimulates the growth of pancreatic islet cells, which could prove to have profound impact on diabetes patients. The islet neogenesis associated protein (INGAP) gene codes for the INGAP protein, which is a major factor in inducing regeneration of insulin producing β-cells. It is now the focus of a multicenter clinical trial that is being conducted in Montreal, Canada and Rochester, MN. Dr. Vinik holds three patents, with six more applications currently under review.

He has authored more than 450 scientific papers in highly reputable journals, eight books and numerous book chapters. In addition, he serves as editor of several scientific journals, including Diabetes Care, International Journal of Endocrinology, World Journal of Gastroenterology, Diabetologia, Reviews in Endocrinology and Metabolism, and Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Dr. Vinik has received numerous accolades throughout his career from the American College of Physicians, American Diabetes Association, Southern Medical Association, Royal College of Physicians, Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition, and the International Diabetes Federation. Additionally, he is the recipient of the Virginia Outstanding Scientist Award from the Virginia Marine Science Museum and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Diabetes Neuropathy Study Group of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

In addition to his impressive medical achievements, Dr. Vinik was instrumental in NANETS’ growth and he was a frequent contributor, moderator and lecturer for NANETS’ medical education.


University of Chicago

Dr. Robert T Jensen is Chief of the Cell Biology Section, Digestive Diseases Branch, Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, USA. He has had a long-standing interest in pancreatic endocrine tumor syndromes, particularly using the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome as a model in which sufficient numbers of patients could be obtained to allow systematic studies. His studies have involved natural history, diagnosis, systematic analysis of imaging studies, medical control of the gastric acid hypersecretion, role of surgery, molecular pathologic- clinical correlations to identify prognostic factors and treatment of patients with advanced disease. In addition, he also performed basic science studies related to the cellular basis of action of gastrointestinal hormones including studies of cell signaling, pharmacology, and molecular pharmacology. He has published 711 papers and 100 chapters.


University of Iowa

As a pediatric oncologist and Professor of Pediatrics, Dr. O'Dorisio enjoys caring for children with solid tumors, accepting the challenge of developing new therapies for these difficult to cure malignancies. She has basic research expertise in pharmacologic and molecular characterization of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR); her laboratory research focuses on identification of GPCRs that can serve as theranostic targets for both imaging and therapy.

Children and young adults with neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma and neuroendocrine tumors have now become her clinical focus. She designed and conducted a Phase I protocol of 90Y-DOTATOC therapy targeting somatostatin receptors that drew subjects with these three tumor types from all over the US. She now has a Phase II, Theranostic trial utilizing 68Ga-DOTATOC as a diagnostic and 90Y-DOTATOC as a therapeutic agent in children and adults with somatostatin receptor positive malignancies.

In all of these endeavors, she seeks to mentor basic science and clinical trainees who will ultimately translate their ideas and hard work into improved length and quality of life for children and adults suffering from these malignancies. She has been an NIH funded principal investigator since 1976, PI of a T32 training grant in “Hematologic and Oncologic Diseases of Childhood” since 2004, and currently also serves as PI of a SPORE in Neuroendocrine Tumors. She has mentored over 30 graduate and medical students, 25 MD and PhD fellows, and 20 junior faculty members, including service on the mentoring teams for three T32 training programs.

University of Iowa

Thomas O'Dorisio, MD is an endocrinologist at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. He is currently serving as the Director of the Neuroendocrine Tumor Program and Co-Leader Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine MOG, Professor within the University of Iowa, in Iowa City, Iowa. He is affiliated with the University of Iowa, the University of Iowa Family Medicine Clinic, and the Iowa City VA Health Care System. He has over four decades of experience and specializes in carcinoid and neuroendocrine tumors that include familial neuroendocrine syndromes. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, and Endocrinology board eligible.

In 1971, Dr. O'Dorisio received his MD from Creighton University, as well as an MS in Autonomy. He had an internship in internal medicine at Creighton University and completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in endocrinology at Ohio State University.


Uppsala University, Sweden

Kjell Öberg, MD, is Professor of Endocrine Oncology at the Medical Faculty of Uppsala University.

He is a specialist in endocrinology and internal medicine. He founded the Department of Endocrine Oncology at Uppsala University Hospital and has 30 years experience in the field of neuroendocrine tumors. He is the chairman of Centre of Excellence of Endocrine Tumors and Vice-chairman of the Department of Endocrine Oncology, University Hospital, Uppsala and Adjunct Professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Öberg has pioneered the treatment of carcinoid tumor patients with interferon and somatostatin analogs and developed assays for tumor markers such as Chromogranin A and radiological procedures including specialized PET scans. He is also one of the founders of the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society.

In 1988 he was the first to describe a genetic deletion in multiple endocrine neoplasia Type 1 (MEN1). Dr. Öberg has given many hundreds of presentations at international meetings and published more than 500 papers within his research field, H-factor 64 and more than 12,000 citations. Also, he is the author of numerous chapters on Carcinoid tumors in several international textbooks.

Dr. Öberg is a member of the Royal Society of Sciences, member of Swedish Society of Medical Research, Honorary member of Finnish Oncology Society, Finnish Endocrine Society and Honorary member of Spanish Neuroendocrine NET-work. Dr. Öberg is Chairman-Elect of ENETS and also a member of the NANETS Advisory Board as well as several other national and international research and scientific boards and many scientific journal review boards.


Kvols Consulting

Larry Kvols, MD, is a consultant in neuroendocrinology at Kvols Consulting in Placitas, New Mexico.

He graduated from Baylor College of Medicine with his MD in 1970 and went on to do an internship, residency and fellowship at John Hopkins School of Medicine. From 1973-1975 Dr. Kvols completed a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Baltimore Cancer Research Center.

From 1975-1993 was a professor of oncology at Mayo Clinic before becoming the director of clinical research at Mallinckrodt. In 1996 Dr. Kvols became the director and CEO of cancer research and treatment at the University of New Mexico. Later in his career, he joined Moffitt Cancer Center as the director of neuroendocrine cancer research until he opened his own consulting company, Kvols consulting, in 2013.

According to his colleagues, Dr. Kvols personalizes his professional interest in patients with his excellent care and bedside manner.


Mount Sinai

Richard Warner, MD, has dedicated his life's work to carcinoid research and treatment. He is Professor of Medicine (Gastroenterology) and serves as Medical Director of the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation, which is based in White Plains, New York, and is aided by other Mount Sinai faculty.

The nonprofit Carcinoid Cancer Foundation encourages and supports research and education on carcinoid and related neuroendocrine cancers. At Mount Sinai, where Dr. Warner recently became a full-time faculty member, he now helps train other doctors at the new Center for Carcinoid and Neuroendocrine Tumors.

“Carcinoid cancer is a little-known condition that only a small number of patients experience,” says Dr. Warner, who sees about 150 new cases every year. “Most doctors know very little about diagnosis and treatment of carcinoid tumors, but we have made significant inroads.”

These inroads include pioneering a new treatment that involves injecting microscopic radiation-bearing particles into the blood supply of the tumors. “In the coming year,” says Dr. Warner, “we will continue working with this treatment, with surgery, and we will also participate in clinical trials testing several very promising new drugs, as well as perfecting laboratory tests for diagnosis and monitoring. These are ongoing efforts that have prolonged and saved patients’ lives.”

Although rare, carcinoid tumors make up more than 40 percent of all small intestinal malignant tumors. They can occur anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas and less commonly in the lungs and elsewhere. About 12,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, and it has been estimated that there are 102,000 people in the country with this slowly progressing malignancy.

When these tumors metastasize, it can lead to carcinoid syndrome. Between 10 and 40 percent of such carcinoids secrete excessive levels of a range of hormones, most notably serotonin, causing flushing, diarrhea, wheezing, and heart failure. Dr. Warner first read about the syndrome more than 50 years ago.

Through websites, newsletters, conferences, and talks, Dr. Warner has contributed to the growing research, education, and support of understanding carcinoid cancer. Dr. Warner also helped form the North American Neuroendocrine Tumor Society, a society for doctors interested in this condition, and established many support groups across the country.

“Carcinoid cancer and carcinoid syndrome are orphan diseases that do not garner as much attention as more common diseases,” Dr. Warner says. “But we are working to change that.”