August 25, 2021

Spencer named winner of the 2021 Brewer-Heslin Award

Written by

sharon spencer 1000x1500Sharon A. Spencer, M.D., professor in the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology, is the 2021 winner of the Brewer-Heslin Endowed Award for Professionalism in Medicine. The award recognizes physicians at UAB who demonstrate extraordinary commitment to providing highly skilled and deeply compassionate medical care to their patients.

Spencer, the Ruby F. Meredith Outstanding Clinician Endowed Chair in Radiation Oncology, is chief of Medical Services in Radiation Oncology for UAB Hospital and a senior scientist in the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB. She also holds appointments in UAB's Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences and Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center.

She is an expert in the management of lung cancer and head and neck cancers. She's spearheaded essential clinical trials in these areas, which have impacted the care of patients across the globe.

Spencer has served as a leader on national guidelines committees for head and neck cancer treatments, acted as a leader on National Cancer Institute-designated protocol steering committees, and serves her profession as a member of the workforce diversity task force for the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She has served on countless committees at the national level and has been active in her department and the school level, giving her time, expertise, and perspective to these efforts.

She collaborates with colleagues across three cancer care facilities and coordinates care with leaders at the Proton International at UAB, Alabama's first and only proton therapy center.

"Receiving this award was a true surprise, and there are absolutely no words to express my gratitude," Spencer said. "What a distinct honor!  I am thankful and appreciative to my chair, Dr. James Bonner, who is an outstanding role model for not only me but for all at UAB.  I'm also eternally grateful to my mentors— Dr. Merle Salter, Dr. Don Brascho, Dr. Robert Kim, Dr. Ruby Meredith, Dr. Al LoBuglio, Dr. Ed Partridge, and Dr. Richard Wheeler.  They are wonderful leaders who modeled exceptional cancer care for me and countless other physicians."

"The team that I work with every day is like none other:  they are for sure a small army dedicated to providing exceptional care. We all are constantly striving to improve every aspect of our care.  Of course, our wonderful, courageous patients deserve absolutely nothing less," Spencer added.

The late Alabama Gov. Albert P. Brewer established the Brewer-Heslin Endowed Award for Professionalism in Medicine in 2015, given annually to a faculty physician who upholds the highest ideals of professionalism in medicine. The award is named for both Brewer and Martin Heslin, M.D., a longtime UAB surgeon leader. Heslin once served as Brewer's surgeon and was the inaugural recipient of the award.

James A. Bonner, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, said nominating Spencer for the award was an honor, calling her a true servant of cancer patients in Alabama and across the globe.

"I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with Dr. Spencer of the last 23 years I have chaired the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology," Bonner said. "I think her patients and international colleagues as just as grateful as I am for her dedication to excellence and service."

Spencer earned her medical degree at the UAB School of Medicine in 1983 and continued her medical training in residency and fellowship in the Department of Radiation Oncology before joining the faculty in 1989.