December 07, 2019

Rory's Legacy Continues with Duke Professorship

David M. Ashley, MBBS (Hon), FRACP, PhD, was recently awarded The Rory David Deutsch Professor of Neuro-Oncology at Duke’s Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, Department of Neuro-Surgery on July 1, 2019.

Ashley is the director of The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. Before leaving Australia to join Duke in 2017 as professor of neurosurgery and director of the pediatric neuro-oncology program in the Department of Neurosurgery, Ashley had served as chair of the Department of Medicine at Dakin University, the program director of Cancer Services University Hospital Baron Health, and executive director of the Western Alliance Academic Health Science Centre.

He was also a director of the Victorian Cancer Agency Consultative Council, director of  Clinical Trials Australia, and has been an Academy member of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council since 2010. Ashley also served as an associate professor and director of the Children’s Cancer Center at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, the largest children’s cancer treatment center in Australia.

Ashley is credentialed in both pediatric and adult oncology practice. His peer-reviewed publication record is diverse and includes laboratory-based cancer research, clinical trials, and public health and psycho-oncology research. His primary academic focus in brain tumors has been tumor immunology and the genomics and epigenetics of cancer. His achievements in research have led to change in practice in the care of children and adults with brain tumors including the introduction of new standards of practice for the delivery of systemic therapy.

A senior figure and opinion leader in academic neuro-oncology and cancer medicine, Ashley is internationally recognized. He has been the principal investigator of a number of important Australian national and international studies, both clinical and pre-clinical.

Ashley says he recognizes and respects the impact The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center has had on brain tumor clinical care and research across the globe. “In choosing to accept a position at The Tisch Brain Tumor Center in 2017, I had made a deliberate and considered move from the other side of the world to embed myself in an environment where I believe together we can make a substantial contribution to improving outcomes for patients who suffer from brain tumors,” said Ashley. “I was also impressed by the philanthropic support the center receives from individuals and organizations like The Rory David Deutsch Foundation. And I pledge, as The Rory David Deutsch Professor of Neuro-Oncology, to honor Rory’s life by working diligently to push Duke’s research forward as quickly as possible so no other family must endure the pain of losing a loved one.”

According to Dr. Henry Friedman, Neuro-Oncologist and Deputy Director of The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke, “By virtue of the endowment of The Rory David Deutsch Foundation, The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center was able to recruit back to Duke Dr. David Ashley. Dr. Ashley, who has received The Rory David Deutsch Professorship of Neuro-Oncology, is one of the leading pediatric and adult neuro-oncology physician-scientists in the world. He will continue to lead The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center in making advancement in the treatment of pediatric and adult brain tumors. Rory’s tragedy has led to this incredible legacy in his name.”

The Rory David Deutsch Foundation has contributed over $3.9 million to Duke; resulting in a fully-funded university professorship, the establishment of the first Rory David Deutsch Scholar and support for the recruitment of Dr. Ashley as a renowned physician-scientist to further the work at Duke. The generosity of the Deutsch Foundation has allowed Duke researchers to continue to pursue a broad variety of projects aimed at advancing treatments of childhood brain tumors.

“We feel that Duke is, without question, the number one research institution on the planet,” said Rory’s father, Ross Deutsch, explaining the reason for The Foundation’s generosity toward Duke. “We are so pleased that an internationally recognized scholar like Dr. Ashley has been awarded The Rory David Deutsch Professorship. We know he is strongly committed to winning this battle and bringing hope to patients.”

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