Waun Ki Hong, M.D. was interviewed in 2013 as part of the Making Cancer History Voices® Oral History Project at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. This project is led by the Historical Resources Center of the Research Medical Library. Hong died Jan. 2, 2019.

About the Interview Subject:

Medical oncologist Waun Ki Hong, MD (b. 13 August 1942, Cheung Pyung [near Seoul], Republic of Korea) came to MD Anderson in 1984 as a full professor to serve as Chief of the Section of Head and Neck Medical Oncology. Dr. Hong’s research has had a translational focus, beginning with his studies of Vitamin A derivatives and publication of the first demonstration that a chemical product could reverse the course of cancer. He specializes in head/neck and lung cancers, with research focus in the areas of molecular therapeutics, cancer prevention, organ preservation, and personalized targeted therapy.

Dr. Hong chaired the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology from 1993 until August 2013. Since 2001 he has served as Head of the Division of Cancer Medicine. Shortly after the completion of these interview sessions, he was named to the National Academy of Science.

Interview Information:

Two interview sessions: 16 September 2013, 16 October 2013
Total approximate duration: 3 hours 10 minutes
Interviewer: Tacey A. Rosolowski, Ph.D.

Major Topics Covered:

  • Personal and educational background; military experience
  • Research: organ preservation (especially of the larynx), studies of leukoplakias, Vitamin A, chemoprevention, and personalized, targeted therapy; multi-disciplinary approaches to diseases of the aero-digestive system
  • Approaches to research design, team science, translational research
  • The Department of Thoracic and Head and Neck Medical Oncology: organization, fellowship program, creating an environment for excellence
  • The Division of Cancer Medicine
  • MD Anderson growth; the presidents
  • Leadership; leading teams, fostering collaboration