Dr. Paulo M. G. Hoff, a member of ASCO’s Board of Directors, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in October 2016.
While among the ancient Roman ruins, Dr. Hoff answered a call from the president of the Academia Nacional de Medicina, Brazil’s National Academy of Medicine. The Academy was founded during the First Empire of Brazil in 1829 and is one of the oldest scientific organizations in the country. It is dedicated to advising the nation’s leaders about health policies.
Membership in the National Academy of Medicine is capped at 100 people with lifetime appointments for all members. Joining the society requires majority approval via a vote of all members.
Under the hot, July sun Dr. Hoff was told that the National Academy of Medicine was considering him for a vacant membership position. Three months later in a hotel room back in Brazil, Dr. Hoff received the results of the vote.
He was now a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
“It was kind of nerve-racking, actually,” Dr. Hoff said. “The voting took a few hours, and it was a very happy moment when they told me to come in.”
Joining the Academy
Dr. Hoff, a member of ASCO’s Board of Directors, was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in October 2016 and formally inducted into the organization on March 14, 2017. The honor is the latest achievement in a career that has included membership in the Brazilian Society of Clinical Oncology and the European Society for Medical Oncology. He also served in several positions with the National Surgical Adjuvant Bowel and Breast Project and the Southwest Oncology Group.
An ASCO member since 1996, Dr. Hoff has served on the Journal of Clinical Oncology Editorial Board, the Professional Development Committee, the Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium Planning Committee, the ASCO Annual Meeting Cancer Education Committee, and the ASCO Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee. In 1998, he received a Merit Award from ASCO for research presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.
“Being a member of the ASCO Board of Directors helped me to understand even better the nuances of health care in different areas of the world,” Dr. Hoff said. “Being recognized by my peers was certainly viewed as a positive thing by the other members of the Academy. I think it’s fair to say ASCO played an important role in that process.”
Cancer Care in Brazil
One of the main benefits of membership in the National Academy of Medicine, Dr. Hoff said, is the ability to advise the Brazilian federal government on health policy. Approximately 70% of Brazil’s 207.8 million residents use the country’s public health system for treatment and care.1
“There should be no gap between treatment in Brazil and countries like the United States,” Dr. Hoff said. “Our obligation from the government is to take seriously the treatment of people. The patients on the public side should have the same treatment and outcomes as the patients on the private side.”
This is especially true in Brazil for the care and treatment of cancer, the country’s second-most common cause of death after cardiac and cerebrovascular diseases.2 In 2014, there were approximately 395,000 new cancer cases reported in the country.2
“There are a lot of issues in oncology that concern public health in Brazil,” Dr. Hoff said. “For example, right now there is a debate about generic products for treatment of children with cancer. The Academy is trying to be an honest broker with the government and physicians about what level of evidence is needed to support the population.”
As an author or co-author of more than 180 manuscripts and 102 book chapters, Dr. Hoff has maintained an impressive level of activity for an oncologist. He is the recipient of several awards and honors in Brazil, including the 2008 Alvorada Medal Award.
However, his volunteer work is what drives him as a physician.
“Every physician has an altruistic mind,” he said. “I believe we go into medicine because we want to help people. If we want to do more, we should look at opportunities to volunteer. People who show interest and commitment to worthy causes like cancer treatment will certainly have opportunities.”