BWH and the Department of Radiation Oncology mourn the loss of Peter Mauch, MD, associate chair of Radiation Oncology at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) and first incumbent Distinguished Chair in Radiation Oncology at BWH, who passed away on Sept. 8 following an extended illness. He was 70.
Renowned as much for his groundbreaking contributions to medicine as his gentleness and warmth as a colleague, friend and physician, Dr. Mauch was beloved and admired by colleagues and patients – sometimes even before they had met him.
Daphne Haas-Kogan, MD, chair of Radiation Oncology, recalled taking her oral board exam in radiation oncology as a resident nearly two decades ago and quoting “Mauch et al.” in the section on lymphoma, an area in which Dr. Mauch was regarded worldwide as an expert.
“I credit my passing the boards to that reference, and so it has been since then: Dr. Mauch has been a guardian angel for his patients, residents, colleagues, department and institution, and even residents he had never met taking their oral boards,” said Haas-Kogan. “With moral fortitude, kindness, integrity and bravery, he brought the best out in others – inspiring and challenging us to be better physicians, colleagues and human beings.”
Andrea Ng, MD, of Radiation Oncology, shared a similar experience from her days as a medical student, assigned to research Hodgkin lymphoma.
“It seemed that every single paper was written by this man Peter Mauch,” she said. “Little did I know he would become a pivotal person in my life, helping shape my career path and serving as a source of support each step of the way.”
Although a giant in his field, Dr. Mauch remained humble and approachable. The personal connections he forged were authentic and deep, recalled Lynn Lopes, RN, OCN, a clinical nurse in Radiation Oncology.
“Peter was kind and compassionate,” Lopes said. “We had a collaborative approach in caring for our wonderful patients. He was loved and respected by his patients and colleagues.”
Lissette Biggs, scheduling coordinator in Radiation Oncology, also cherished her close connection with Dr. Mauch, whom she worked with for almost 20 years. Dr. Mauch would often take time to sit with her to eat lunch, talk or ask for advice, she said.
“He was a great friend – somebody I grew to know and care about like family,” Biggs said.
Patients’ faces lit up when they saw him, and they continued to return for yearly follow-up long after their treatment ended, sometimes for decades.
“He was an exceptional person and physician, and I will miss him very much,” noted Ann LaCasce, MD, of Medical Oncology. Added Arnold Freedman, MD, also of Medical Oncology: “He was a great colleague to us all. We lost a very special person.”
Dr. Mauch’s career spanned more than 40 years at DF/BWCC and included innumerable clinical, research and teaching contributions during that time.
Among those achievements was a database he created that catalogued all Hodgkin lymphoma patients treated in the Longwood Medical Area since the late 1960s. As time went on, it grew into one of largest and most well-maintained Hodgkin lymphoma databases in the country. An invaluable resource for clinicians and researchers, its data has led to countless discoveries, shaped treatment approaches, brought to light serious late complications of cancer treatment and provided insight for prospective clinical trial participants.
In addition to his busy clinical practice – seeing hundreds of new lymphoma patients each year from around the world – Dr. Mauch maintained a full-time research laboratory and trained scores of students, residents, early-career faculty members and scientists. In honor of his substantial mentorship contributions, the department established the Peter Mauch Radiation Oncology Fellowship for Junior Faculty. The award is part of the Eleanor and Miles Shore 50th Anniversary Fellowship Program for Scholars in Medicine.
Dr. Mauch is survived by his wife, Barbara Rodríguez, daughter, Natalia, and son, Julián; brothers Jonathan and David; and nieces and nephews.