The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium community was saddened by news of the passing of symposium co-founder and oncology trailblazer Charles A. Coltman Jr., MD Wednesday, Nov. 28. He was 88.
Coltman, along with William L. McGuire, MD started the symposium in 1978 during Breast Cancer Awareness Week. At that time, there were 140 attendees from around South Texas. It has grown over the following four decades to an international conference spanning five days drawing nearly 8,000 attendees.
“It was their vision that really made it what it is today,” said SABCS Co-Sponsor C. Kent Osborne, MD, director of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “It was their vision to always have basic scientists and clinicians in the same room hearing each other talk.”
Osborne described him as an educator who, “had a major impact in the cancer world early on when we were just getting started as a specialty.” His primary focus was on blood cancers and his work advancing research in this area earned him several awards, including the Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Research Award from the Association of Community Care Centers and ASCO’s David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award.
Coltman was an Air Force veteran and chief of hematology and oncology at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio. He was named chief medical director of Cancer Therapy & Research Center in 1977, now the Cancer Center of UT Health San Antonio, and remained until his departure in 2003. In 1964 – just eight years after its founding by the National Cancer Institute – Coltman joined the Southwest Oncology Group, now the SWOG Cancer Research Network. Coltman served as the group’s chair for 24 years. SWOG is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s National Clinical Trials Network, which has run over 1,300 cancer clinical trials that have saved more than 3 million years of human life. He is a former member and president of the ASCO board of directors.
Coltman was a faculty member of UT Health San Antonio from 1977 through 2010. “With his influence locally, regionally and through SABCS, Dr. Coltman impacted the prevention and treatment of cancer throughout the world,” said William L. Henrich, MD, President of UT Health San Antonio.