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University vice president Denny Hammond celebrates four decades of service

Hammond in a 1990 photo

When G. Denman (Denny) Hammond joined the USC faculty in 1957, the entire Health Sciences Campus consisted of a single building that housed the School of Medicine.

Forty years later, the campus has expanded in both size and reputation and�partly because of Hammond’s personal efforts �boasts one of the first university-based comprehensive cancer centers in the nation.

Hammond, professor of pediatrics and associate vice president for health affairs, recently celebrated his 40th anniversary at USC.

“It was a bit of a surprise when they notified me I�ve been on the faculty for 40 years because I hadn�t even marked the occasion in my mind. To me it seems like a reasonably short period, even though I�ve had three or four whole careers in that time,” he said.

Hammond first joined the full-time faculty at the USC School of Medicine and Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). He served as a member and chief of the hematology-oncology division at CHLA for 14 years and during the 1960s he developed one of the nation�s leading childhood cancer treatment and research programs and trained many research fellows.

He also served as the founding director of the USC Cancer Center and was the developer of the USC/Norris Cancer Hospital.

Hammond said he is most proud of the work he did in developing the USC-based cancer center. He was asked to develop the cancer center in 1971.

“I think that having a cancer hospital had been a dream for a long time, but it never seemed to be obtainable,” he said. But through persistence and hard work, Hammond helped obtain it.

The USC center was designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute in 1973.

In 1975, Hammond secured a $12 million construction grant for a regional cancer center that would be owned and operated by the county and staffed by USC faculty. After county officials withdrew support for the plan in 1977, he was able to reacquire the grant on behalf of USC and persuade then-chancellor of the university Norman Topping to champion the proposed project. The USC Board of Trustees agreed to construct a newly design USC cancer hospital and research institute on the Health Sciences Campus.

Ground was broken for construction of the USC cancer hospital in 1979.

“I think many people who felt they would never see that day were euphoric when it finally happened. It was pretty exciting when they began digging the hole for the foundation because that�s when we knew there was finally going to be a cancer hospital,” he said.

“The cancer center in my concept was never simply a building, it was a program that involved all of the USC affiliates. The hospital is referred to as the �cancer center,� because many of the cancer research activities go on there. But it�s only part of the entire cancer center � which includes research and treatment at LAC+USC Medical Center, CHLA and other affiliated hospitals,” he said.

As associate dean of the School of Medicine in 1983, Hammond led a committee that developed a proposal to build a university hospital and found ways to make the project feasible. Subsequently, as associate vice president health affairs, he was responsible for coordinating faculty involvement in developing the room-by-room plans and equipment for the USC University Hospital, which was opened in 1991.

Hammond remains an active member of the faculty of the School of Medicine and serves part-time as associate vice president health affairs.

He served as a member and principal investigator of the Children�s Cancer Group (CCG) for 11 years at CHLA, and served for 24 years as its national group chairman. During his tenure, the CCG developed into a group of 2,000 specialists in all relevant disciplines. They are located at 118 member institutions throughout North America that cooperate in clinical and laboratory research on all types of childhood cancers.

Hammond has written or co-authored 300 scientific manuscripts, books and book chapters. He is a member of numerous medical and scientific societies and editorial boards. He is a national director and served as a national officer of the American Cancer Society.

A Presidential appointee to the National Cancer Advisory Board for six years, Hammond has received honors including: the Admiral Chambliss Award of The Navy League, the Clinical Research Award of the Society of Surgical Oncology, the Distinguished Career Award of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and the Medal of Honor of the American Center Society. He has listings in Men and Women of Science, Who�s Who in America and Who�s Who in the World.

Hammond said he has no plans to retire any time soon, saying that he still feels there is much left to accomplish. “I�m delighted to be doing the work I do � promoting and funding research and advocacy to benefit children with cancer. Progress in curing children with cancer has been spectacular. It�s very rewarding.”

Hammond lives in Pasadena with Polly, his wife of 53 years.

University vice president Denny Hammond celebrates four decades of service

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