Dr. Henry Lynch
Video script below
Dr. Peter Silberstein: "He’s a brilliant, world famous investigator, teacher, researcher. He is a superstar in the cancer world, in the field of genetics and hereditary causing cancer."
Dr. Cliff Robertson: "He’s changed medicine…he’s a hero, he’s a legend in American medicine - actually he’s a legend around the world."
Dr. Stephen Lanspa: "I know a lot of smart guys. Henry is a genius."
A genius with an unlikely start. Henry Thomson Lynch left home and school at 14 – joined the Navy during World War II and later found himself throwing punches under the professional boxing name “Hammerin' Hank’…but after a while the self described average student was ready for something a little less painful.
Dr. Henry Lynch: "I decided rather than get my brains knocked out turn to something more sensible and a lot more challenging. I checked with the Veteran’s Administration and they were helping veterans immediately got into college got in without high school or anything and they let me in."
Henry Lynch took it from there – earning a college degree, a master’s degree, and eventually his MD. His fascination for genetics developed in medical school but it wasn’t until years later he would see something. Something nobody else few others did–something that would have experts from around the world questioning his research–something that would change the way we look at cancer today.
Dr. Lynch: "It was the pattern of cancers – the way distributed in the pedigrees it couldn’t be anything else but a hereditary situation. We published this as a collection and it got a lot of attention but not enough attention to make the world believe there was something there.
The pieces of the puzzle were clear to Lynch - cancer was killing extended families at a higher rate (than others) –there had to be a genetic link but it would take decades for the scientific community to embrace the idea - to realize his groundbreaking research would become a game changer for generations to come.
Dr. Lanspa: "Generations that aren’t born will have been saved from an early cancer death because of this work. Everyday when we see cancer patients we say do they have family history and what we can do about that. He has been the leader of that which has improved the care of thousands of patients across the world."
Dr. Robertson: "Dr. Lynch and the work he’s done over the years has changed how we think about disease health and in particular, cancer. What Dr. Lynch has contributed to is a growing understanding that much of what we deal with has a genetic component.
And that is why Lynch is often referred to as the Father of Hereditary Cancer. His research lead to the discovery and identification of a hereditary form of colon cancer - now known as Lynch Syndrome and helped discover the link between your family tree and breast, ovarian, endometrium, melanoma, pancreatic and other cancers –but he’s the first to tell you he didn’t do it alone.
Dr. Lanspa: "Part of his success part of what he loves about doing now and then it was a family thing for him. His wife Jane Lynch an RN. She was kind of the tail to Henry’s kite….she kept him focused."
And now people in the Midwest will come to know the focus, the dedication Henry Lynch has brought to Creighton University School of Medicine and cancer research with the unveiling of the Henry Lynch Cancer Centers at CHI Health Bergan Mercy and CHI Health Immanuel. It signals that we as a health system are not just about treatment of disease - we focus on finding ways to identify people at risk and prevent illness from occurring.
Dr. Lynch’s work has opened the door for organizations like ours who are solely focused on keeping people well. At age 87, Dr. Lynch still goes to the office every day. He’s cut back a little in at 4:00 a.m. and out by 4:30 p.m. That’s because “Hammerin' Hank” still has the determination of that 16 year old boxer to fight for that next breakthrough to find that next pattern. He may not cure cancer but he will spend the rest of his life trying to stop it.
Dr Silberstein: "He is a model of a physician who is so devoted to his patients devoted to improving medical research devoted improving the life of these patients life of their descendants he puts his heart and soul into that.
Dr. Lanspa: "If you want to know how to live your life, Henry is a good role model. If you want fashion advice Henry is not your guy."
Dr. Lynch: "I hope the legacy will be I did help with the help of others – and my help was generated in a major way by my colleagues."