On Nov. 4, 2022, Duke Cancer Institute Executive Director Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, was honored by the Duke Medical Alumni Association with a Distinguished Faculty Award.

Established in 1968, the Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Awards were created to recognize those who make important contributions to the establishment and growth of the four-year medical school and to the world of medicine. The awards are designed to honor alumni and friends whose distinguished careers and unselfish contributions to society have added luster and prestige to Duke University and its School of Medicine. A committee appointed by the Dean of the School of Medicine selects the recipients from nominations solicited from alumni and medical school faculty.

The above tribute video and text below cover the highlights of Kastan’s decades-long research and clinical career.


In addition to his role as the executive director of Duke Cancer Institute, Michael B. Kastan, MD, PhD, is the William and Jane Shingleton Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology and a professor of pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine. He was previously a professor of oncology, pediatrics, and molecular biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine prior to becoming chair of the Hematology-Oncology Department and later Cancer Center director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He earned his MD and PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in 1984.


Kastan is a pediatric hematologist-oncologist and renowned cancer biologist who has made numerous seminal discoveries in elucidating pathways involved in DNA damage signaling. His discoveries have made a major impact on our understanding of both how cancers develop and how they respond to chemotherapy and radiation therapy. His highly cited publications on the roles of the genes p53 and ATM in DNA damage served as a major building block in establishing the signaling pathways that are now called the DNA Damage Response pathways. He became an international resource in helping to understand the nature of increased cancer susceptibility in families with two hereditary cancer syndromes that affect children and adults, Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and Ataxia-Telangiectasia (A-T). His work on p53 was highlighted in the 2016 book by Susan Armstrong — “p53: The Gene That Cracked the Cancer Code.”


Kastan is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (2016), the National Academy of Medicine (2009), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014), and a fellow of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) (2017). He received the AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award (2007) for outstanding contributions to basic cancer research. In 2022, he received the Failla Memorial Lecture Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Radiation Research Society.

Boards & Journals

Kastan serves on numerous institutional advisory boards, has served as chairman of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Cancer Institute, and has served on the boards of directors of the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Association of Cancer Institutes. He was named founding editor-in-chief of the AACR journal Molecular Cancer Research (MCR) when it launched in 2002. And in recognition of Kastan’s dedication and guidance, AACR announced in 2018 the creation of the MCR Michael B. Kastan Award for Research Excellence.

This snapshot was published on Nov. 11, 2022, on the DCI Blog, and the video, shot and produced by Jim Rogalski, first aired at the 2022 Medical Alumni Association Distinguished Awards Ceremony on November 4, 2022.