“She served as a role model, especially for many women physicians, and also for me and many other oncologists who trained at Rush,” - Philip Bonomi, MD
Janet Wolter, MD, a pioneering oncologist and former Brian Piccolo Chair of Cancer Research at Rush, passed away in 2020 at age 93. A national leader in cancer care, Wolter collaborated with endocrinologists to find new ways to treat cancer with chemotherapy and hormone therapy — providing hope to thousands of breast cancer patients.
During her almost 50 years at Rush, she mentored and trained many of the institution’s well-known physicians. Wolter was the first woman president of the Rush medical staff and a trustee of the Rush University Medical Center from 1999 to 2003. In celebration of Wolter’s legacy, Rush named a conference space for her to provide a comfortable, high-tech home for the education of residents and fellows and for collaboration among clinicians across specialties.
WOLTER'S LEGAGY AT RUSH
Wolter received her medical degree in 1950 from the University of Illinois College of Medicine before training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Duke University Hospital, the University of Illinois Research and Education Hospital and Presbyterian Hospital. She was briefly a faculty member at the University of Illinois before joining the faculty of Rush’s predecessor hospital Presbyterian-St. Luke’s in 1963 to collaborate with pioneering physician Samuel G. Taylor III, MD, in his work treating cancer patients with hormones and chemotherapy.
During the course of her career at Rush, Wolter was instrumental in Rush’s opening the first comprehensive breast center in the Midwest. She also served as principal investigator for the Rush arm of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Program – a National Cancer Institute-supported cooperative group of researchers conducting clinical trials of cancer treatments. True to her collaborative working style, Wolter was among the first physicians in the nation to train nurse specialists in oncology to work in tandem with oncologists.
The educational focus of the symposium in Wolter’s tribute reflects her enduring influence on generations of physicians and her work to pave the way for female physicians everywhere.
“She served as a role model, especially for many women physicians, and also for me and many other oncologists who trained at Rush,” says Philip Bonomi, MD, Alice Pirie Wirtz professor of medical oncology and former director of hematology-oncology at Rush, who trained with Wolter as an oncology fellow from 1975 to 1977.
In tribute to Wolter, Rush created the Janet Wolter, MD, Clinical and Educational Conference Room, a teaching center in Rush’s Outpatient Cancer Center. The Center places the majority of Rush’s cancer treatment services and care providers side by side in a single location, reducing the strain on patients and facilitating close collaboration among caregivers — a key element of optimal care.