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Audrey E. Evans

In Memoriam: Audrey E. Evans

(07/08/1965 - 09/29/2022)Member since 1964
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Audrey E. Evans, MD, a pioneering pediatric oncologist and a cofounder of the Ronald McDonald House, died September 29, 2022, at the age of 97.

Evans was born in York, England, on March 6, 1925. She attended medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. In 1953, she received a Fulbright scholarship and traveled to Boston to work with Sidney Farber at Boston Children’s Hospital. There, she conducted groundbreaking studies on neuroblastoma, a cancer of immature nerve cells that is the most common type of cancer in infants.

Evans joined the University of Chicago as the head of the hematology-oncology unit in 1964. In 1969, she was recruited by future Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to become director and chief of the Division of Oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). In 1971, she developed what is now known as the Evans staging system—a protocol for assessing neuroblastoma. The staging system helped physicians determine which patients needed chemotherapy and radiation and which could be spared the treatments, which have punishing side effects. Also in the 1970s, she launched the Advances in Neuroblastoma Research conference. Her work contributed greatly to progress against this disease. Over the course of her career, neuroblastoma deaths dropped by half, and today, about 80 percent of children diagnosed with this cancer type survive.

Throughout her medical practice, she was deeply concerned with the welfare of her patients’ families. Through an alliance with the Philadelphia Eagles, she cofounded the original Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia in 1974. Today, there are 380 Ronald McDonald House facilities around the world. She also helped launch Ronald McDonald Camps for pediatric patients and survivors. She remained devoted to children in need; after retiring in 2009, she worked with her minister to found a private school in an underresourced neighborhood in North Philadelphia.

Evans joined the AACR in 1964 and was most recently an Emeritus member. She received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Career Award from the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society of Pediatric Oncology; the Janeway Award from the American Radium Society; and the William Osler Patient Oriented Research Award from the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Advances in Neuroblastoma Research Association. She received an honorary fellowship from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

“Audrey Evans was completely devoted to children, from her lifesaving research advances to her concern for their families,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “Her long, brilliant career helped transform outcomes for entire generations of young patients.”

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