Professor of Radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine Receives the 37th Annual Alton Ochsner Award

August 2, 2022 — Ochsner Health has announced that the recipient of the 37th Annual Alton Ochsner Award Relating Smoking and Disease is Claudia Henschke, Ph.D., MD Director, Early Lung and Cardiac Action Program (ELCAP) and Professor of Radiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY

This prestigious award is named after Alton Ochsner, MD, who co-founded Ochsner Health in New Orleans and published the first paper linking smoking and health in 1939. It recognizes scientists who have made major contributions to the relationship between smoking and disease and who have advanced the development of better prevention and treatment modalities.

“It is an honor to receive this award for my work in lung cancer screening,” said Henschke. “The ability to be able to detect early lung cancer by screening and change it from an essentially incurable disease to one with a high cure rate, saving countless lives, is a culmination of 30 years of work.”

Henschke pioneered the use of CT screening for lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death worldwide.

“I have had the rewarding experience of first introducing low-dose CT screening in 1992 when almost nobody really believed it would work, and then partnering with a global community of researchers known as the Early Lung Cancer Action Program (I-ELCAP). This has allowed screening to achieve mainstream acceptance,” she said.

“At Ochsner, we support pioneers who explore complex healthcare issues and develop innovative treatments relating to smoking cessation and disease prevention, because we know collaboration is a critical component of research and disease prevention,” said Leonardo Seoane, MD, Chief Academic Officer for Ochsner Health. “We commend Dr. Henschke’s dedication and passion to this important topic.”

Starting in 2001, Henschke’s I-ELCAP research consortium expanded to 80 national and international sites focused on developing the most effective diagnostic protocol. It was constantly updated to incorporate imaging advances and improve diagnosis of lung cancer at ever earlier and more curable stages.

Her research triggered randomized controlled trials in the United States and five other countries that have validated mortality reductions, leading to public and private insurance coverage here and abroad. Her advancements from her have saved countless lives.

“I am most grateful for the participants in the screening program as they made all these results possible. This worldwide team effort is my greatest joy and I am honored to have had such a dedicated team of collaborators and participants,” Henschke said.

Utilizing one of the largest collections of CT thoracic scans ever assembled, Henschke and her team continue to develop early identification of other smoking-related morbidities, such as coronary artery disease, emphysema, osteoporosis, and liver disease.

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