Dr. Rajesh Lalla, professor of Oral Medicine and associate dean for research at the UConn School of Dental Medicine, was recently awarded the 2022 Distinguished Service Award from the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC)—the organization’s highest honor.
Founded in 1990, with 2500 members in over 70 countries, MASCC is an international, multidisciplinary organization of healthcare professionals dedicated to the practice, education and research of supportive care in cancer—including the prevention and management of the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment. MASCC membership is made up of about 40% physicians, 13% nurses, and 13% dental professionals, with other professions making up the rest.
The award recognizes “meritorious service, exemplary leadership, and outstanding contribution to the society and its mission” according to the official press release. Lalla received the award at MASCC’S annual conference in Toronto, Canada this summer.
Lalla, who has been an active member of MASCC for 20 years, served as the President of the organization from 2018-2020—the only dentist to have assumed the role as President. All other MASCC Presidents in the organization’s 32 year history have been physicians. During his tenure as President, Lalla most notably developed and implemented the MASCC Affiliates program whereby existing or new national-level organizations in several countries became affiliates of MASCC. This contributed to more than a doubling of MASCC membership and helped expand the organization’s impact on supportive care globally. Working with colleagues in MASCC, he also implemented a number of additional new programs including Best of MASCC conferences and two membership incentive programs.
Lalla said: “The leadership opportunities in MASCC have allowed me to work with healthcare professionals in several continents to promote supportive care in cancer for patients around the world. Across cultures, languages, and time-zones, we share the mission of improving the lives of patients with cancer.”
There have been 19 winners of MASCC’s Distinguished Service Award, from eight different countries, with only two being dentists—both from UConn. Lalla is the second dentist to receive this award from MASCC. The first dentist to receive the award was Dr. Douglas Peterson, professor of oral medicine, in 2008.
Lalla is a board-certified clinician and scholar who conducts clinical research on oral complications of cancer therapy. He has had NIH funding for his research for almost twenty years. He has authored more than 110 scientific articles, which have been viewed online more than 35,000 times and cited over 5300 times. He has also led the development of internationally recognized clinical practice guidelines for oral mucositis secondary to cancer therapy.