Rachel Gibson, PhD, is the recipient of MASCC’s 2019 Distinguished Service Award. The DSA, MASCC’s highest honor, is made in recognition of meritorious achievement and outstanding contributions to the society. Candidates are nominated by their peers in recognition of exemplary leadership and accomplishments in support of MASCC’s mission and goals. Rachel has just been appointed inaugural Professor and Director, Allied Health in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Adelaide, a position that will commence in July 2019. She is also Co-Head of the Cancer Treatment Toxicities Group at the Adelaide Medical School and previously served as Professor and Academic Dean in the Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia.
An active member of MASCC since 2003, Rachel has held numerous leadership roles within the society and is currently a member of MASCC’s Executive Committee and Board of Directors, having been elected three times to the Board by her international peers. She Chaired the MASCC Awards Committee from 2012 to 2014 and in that time overhauled the MASCC Awards Policy and Guidelines to improve the evaluation and selection processes. From 2016 to 2018, she was the MASCC Secretary and currently serves as MASCC Treasurer.
Rachel has long been an active participant in MASCC’s Annual Meetings and served as Annual Meeting Chair in 2017 (Washington, DC) and 2018 (Vienna, Austria). In this role, she was responsible for coordinating the numerous aspects and details required for a successful meeting. Under her leadership, we saw an increase in meeting delegate numbers and innovations, such as e-Posters. Rachel has been active, too, in presenting her own research as well as fostering the next generation of researchers from her laboratory to attend and present work at the Meeting and join the MASCC community. Her students have won MASCC Young Investigator Awards (Hannah Wardill, Ann Yeoh, Romany Stansborough) and stepped into leadership roles in their own right.
A prolific researcher in the field of supportive cancer care, Rachel has authored or co-authored over 110 journal articles (including 15 in Supportive Care in Cancer), six book chapters, and 75 abstracts presented at the MASCC Annual Meetings. She has also been a Section Head in MASCC Study Group initiatives to develop clinical practice guidelines for the management of mucositis secondary to cancer therapy, including gastrointestinal mucositis. These efforts demonstrate her dedication to promoting supportive care knowledge and practice on a global scale.
In her roles at the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia, Rachel proved herself a senior university leader and administrator in learning and teaching, program development, student experiences, staff development, digital learning, and International engagement. In her current position as Co-Head of the Cancer Treatment Toxicities Group, Rachel works with a team of researchers from the fields of pathology, molecular biology, microbiology, and immunology, among others, in the study of toxic effects of chemotherapy on the gut microbiome of cancer patients and the development of clinically diagnosed diarrhea, a manifestation of intestinal mucositis.
Rachel is recognized as a skilled communicator among peers, students, business collaborators, and partners, and has been an enthusiastic advocate for MASCC, promoting the society’s mission and goals around the world. Rachel embodies MASCC’s mission and vision through her research, outreach, and development of the next generation of members of the MASCC community.
All of us at MASCC are grateful to Rachel for her contributions and enthusiastic support of MASCC over the years and offer sincere congratulations to her as recipient of MASCC’s highest honor.