Inspired by an intense curiosity about his family’s long history with colon and other cancers and a desire to help his and other families with similar cancer histories, C. Richard Boland, MD, ’73 has devoted his entire medical career to finding the causes of hereditary colorectal cancer. It seems this destiny was set at the start of his second year of medical school, after he had lost his father to colon cancer that summer; it further gelled when he elected to conduct research and write his thesis on colorectal cancer, focusing largely on his own family. After earning his medical degree and securing further training in internal medicine and gastroenterology, Boland continued his quest for answers.
Over the past four decades, Boland has contributed tremendously to the body of knowledge surrounding the link between gene mutations and colorectal cancer. His game-changing discoveries about Lynch Syndrome, the most common colorectal and endometrial cancer syndrome, have earned him eminent research awards. One crowning achievement attributed to Boland’s lab was the discovery of the genetic mutation at the root of the Lynch Syndrome type that had plagued his family, and the development of a genetic test for the disease. Boland chronicles his winding journey in medical research in the humor-infused memoir Cancer Family, published in 2015.
Boland is now supporting new research surrounding familial and hereditary GI cancers with his recent gift of $50,000 to YSM. Department of Internal Medicine gastroenterologist Xavier Llor, MD, PhD, and Assistant Professor Rosa Munoz Xicola, PhD, will lead work spanning the search for additional cancer-causing genes, how colorectal cancers develop in families, cancer disparities and what role environmental factors play in cancer development. Boland and the Yale team hope this work will lead to better, more personalized prevention and treatment strategies that will save lives and make the term “cancer family” defunct.
If you are interested in making a gift at any level to help accelerate research within YSM’s Department of Internal Medicine, please contact Erin Shreve in the Office of Development at 203-436-8529 or.