Colorado State University will welcome alumnus Dr. Rodney Page as the newly named director of the university’s Animal Cancer Center. Dr. Page will take the helm of the center on July 1 from Dr. Steve Withrow, the current director and founder of the center, who will work with Dr. Page to transition leadership over the next three years until Withrow retires.
Page, a veterinarian, comes to Colorado State University from Cornell University, where he was director of the Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research. Page was the founding director of the institute at Cornell and oversaw fundamental cancer research programs, faculty caring for animals with cancer, and the center’s Division of Cancer and Environment, which is an outreach and education program for cancer risk reduction in humans.
“My vision for the Animal Cancer Center is to continue improving how CSU effectively drives discovery and clinical innovation throughout the university and within a wide variety of partnerships,” said Page. “I am committed to working toward advancements in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer for all species.”
Before receiving specialty training in medical oncology at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, Page graduated from Colorado State’s veterinary program. Thrilled to be back in Fort Collins, Page has stayed in close contact with many of the faculty he studied under.
“I will be returning to family rather than starting out new,” Page said. “Much has changed since I graduated from CSU, but the commitment to quality patient care at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and rigorous science continues to impress me and I am eager to get started. I enjoy developing and applying new technology and strategies of oncology because there is so much left to learn and so many to help.”
The Animal Cancer Center at CSU is the world’s largest cancer center and is recognized internationally for treating animals with cancer and leading cancer research that translates from animals to humans. Page’s research has spanned many kinds of comparative cancer research. Comparative research is focused on understanding how cancer behaves in humans and animals, and finding key commonalities and differences that may provide clues to better treating and preventing the disease.
“Under Dr. Withrow’s visionary leadership, the Animal Cancer Center has flourished with an internationally recognized commitment to treating animals with cancer while leading translational research into finding cures and treatments for animals and humans. CSU has been honored to have his commitment to excellence on our team for all of these years,” said Dr. Lance Perryman, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “We are quite pleased that Dr. Page has agreed to continue to lead the pioneering work of the Animal Cancer Center. I share with his new colleagues great confidence in his ability to continue to charge ahead with the important task of being a global leader in finding ways to treat, cure and prevent cancer.”
The Animal Cancer Center was founded by Withrow and Ed Gillette, a radiation oncologist at CSU, 25 years ago. As an internationally renowned expert in cancer research and treatment, Withrow is credited with changing the way veterinarians treat cancer. Today, oncologists at the center book about 8,000 appointments a year, seeing patients from around the world, and provide an additional 5,000 consultations via the phone or email to veterinarians and animal owners. Dogs, cats, orangutans, bears and many other species have been examined and treated for cancer by the center.
“After 32 years at CSU it is time for me to step down as director of the Animal Cancer Center and spend more time on clinical duties, teaching, research and fundraising,” Withrow said. “Being the director of the Animal Cancer Center and watching it grow to what it is today has been an honor and privilege. I step down with great faith in the future and the people who have taken on leadership roles in clinical service, research, teaching and public outreach. The university and college have provided great vision in this journey. Dr. Page has been my student, professional colleague, advisor and friend for almost 30 years. He has the experience, knowledge, integrity and respect of the profession to take the Animal Cancer Center to new heights. I am very excited about the new skills he will bring to our already strong program and look forward to his unique and new leadership style.”
In addition to treating animals with cancer, the Animal Cancer Center has trained more veterinary oncologists than any other veterinary institution and is the only veterinary cancer group to have more than 25 consecutive years of funding from the National Cancer Institute. It has an international reputation for its collaboration with human cancer institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, the National Cancer Institute and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. In addition, the Animal Cancer Center is home to numerous clinical trials for cancer treatments, with pets participating with their owner’s approval in the quest to find new treatments and preventions for cancer. Many clinical trials are overseen by the Children’s Oncology Group because of the center’s ability to translate animal cancer treatments, innovations and knowledge into beneficial human medicine.
Among many contributions to cancer research and treatment, Withrow developed a limb-sparing technique to treat osteosarcoma, a malignant tumor of long bones in dogs. This technique revolutionized osteosarcoma treatment in dogs and has been widely adopted at human cancer centers, significantly increasing the likelihood that children diagnosed with osteosarcoma will be cured, demonstrating how canine cancer research has had a far-reaching influence on human cancer care.
In addition to academic activities at Colorado State, Withrow has volunteered for 25 years as a counselor and fundraiser for the Sky High Hope Camp for children with cancer, earning him the Ronald McDonald House Volunteer of the Year award in 2003.
The Animal Cancer Center is part of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and includes faculty from the Department of Clinical Sciences, the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences and the Department of Molecular Biology, Immunology and Pathology.