May 18, 2004 | Dr. Bart Barlogie’s career has taken him to many far-flung locations but always in the same direction. Finding a cure for multiple myeloma has been Barlogie’s prime motivation for almost 30 years, and it was with that goal in mind that the International Myeloma Foundation honored him with the Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award May 8 at a special event held at the Peabody Little Rock.
The director of the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy at UAMS’ Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Barlogie was recognized by numerous colleagues and officials over the course of the evening. Among the highlights was an announcement by Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson that UAMS planned to raise funds to invest a chair in myeloma research in honor of Barlogie and his efforts toward curing the rare but deadly form of cancer. Dr. Ernest Ferris, chairman of UAMS’ Department of Radiology, called Barlogie “a patient’s best friend” and presented him with a $40,000 donation to the Myeloma Institute’s Patient Awareness Fund.
A video presentation by Gov. Mike Huckabee touched on Barlogie’s commitment not only to his work but to his patients. Donna Lambert of St. Louis, a patient of Barlogie’s, echoed those sentiments in a short speech while Dr. Emil Freireich of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston complimented his former employee for his dedication to “learning about the disease from patients, not mice.”
Dr. Brian Durie and Susie Novis of the International Myeloma Foundation commended Barlogie for the passion displayed in his work while Dr. Robert Kyle of the Mayo Clinic, for whom the award was named, complimented him for his ability to recognize his patients’ needs and put them before his own.
John Shaughnessy, director of the Myeloma Institute’s Lambert Laboratory of Myeloma Genetics, characterized Barlogie as a perfectionist. “Since 1989, Bart and his team of physicians have had over 20,000 clinic visits from patients with myeloma. I think Bart himself has seen nearly a third of these patients. His patients always wonder why they have to wait so long to see him. It’s because every patient gets the best Bart has to offer and that takes time!” said Shaughnessy, who noted that Barlogie’s labors at UAMS have more than doubled the survival rate of myeloma patients.
Barlogie, upon receiving the award from Kyle, thanked his comrades as well as his patients, asking those in attendance to stand and be recognized for their contributions to his pursuit of a cure for myeloma. “I was born on May 10, 1944, in the ruins of World War II. My mother and my stepfather taught me that you had to work hard to build something from the ashes. Mother always told me that what I could get in my head no one could take away,” said a visibly overwhelmed Barlogie.
“In medicine and the scientific profession, we stand on each others’ shoulders. We remember that we are not creating things out of nothing but out of a succession of scientists and clinicians whose work allows us to pursue our vision. What we try and accomplish is about patients. A diagnosis of multiple myeloma is worse than many things … it’s really very difficult … different patients deal with it differently. It’s not sufficient to just double the survival rate. We have to keep the momentum and energy and learn to deal with failure. I was evidently given tough genes and work in an environment where we don’t give up.”