Andrew L. Pecora, M.D., president of Physician Services and chief innovations officer at Hackensack Meridian Health, received the Rosemarie J. Sorce Endowed Chair in Innovation at Hackensack Meridian Health. The award is in honor of his lifetime achievements in medicine, including cancer research and treatment. The award, which includes a grant for more than $2 million from Mrs. Sorce, the first vice chair of the Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center Board of Governors, is also designed to further Dr. Pecora’s work in moving cancer treatment toward a cure. The Inaugural Endowed Chair event was recently held at the 21 Club in New York City to celebrate Dr. Pecora and Mrs. Sorce.
“Andrew Pecora is an incredible health care leader, both as a physician and a researcher,” said Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This chair, which Rosemarie Sorce was so kind to endow, is so well deserved because Dr. Pecora is truly an innovator. Among his achievements is cultivating a groundbreaking research partnership with the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center and Georgetown University, in which we formed a consortium. By the end of next year, we expect to become designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.”
Dr. Pecora is also the co-founder and past president of Regional Cancer Care Associates, a network of independent East Coast oncology practices. He is also a professor of medicine at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, from which he received his M.D., and he is a professor of oncology and medicine at Georgetown University. Under Dr. Pecora’s leadership, Hackensack Meridian Health has increased its precision medicine endeavors by signing a partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In addition to his role at Hackensack Meridian Health, Dr. Pecora is also the chief innovations officer and vice president of Cancer Services at the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“It’s a high honor to receive this acknowledgment and I am deeply thankful for the generosity of Ro Sorce and her husband Sandy and their commitment to our Hackensack Meridian Health System,” said Dr. Pecora. “My professional colleagues at the John Theurer Cancer Center and the administration at Hackensack University Medical Center enable an environment that cultivates innovation. I have been granted more than 50 patents for work in stem cell science and information technology. Every one of those patents was due to the efforts that occurred at Hackensack University Medical Center. This award is such an honor because we are traditionalizing innovation and research at Hackensack Meridian Health and we are on the world stage with some of the projects with which we are involved.”
Rosemarie J. Sorce is the office manager of Sorce Companies, a real estate management company based in Hackensack. She has a long record of public service and volunteerism, and she serves as a member of various boards at Hackensack Meridian Health and Hackensack University Medical Center. Mrs. Sorce serves as a member of the Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees Quality Committee; first vice chair of the Hackensack University Medical Center Board of Governors; chair of the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Advisory Committee; a member of the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees and a member of its Special Events Committee. In addition, she is an Auxilian at the medical center.
“I have been involved with the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for 15 years now,” said Ro Sorce. “I strongly believe in research, in particular, cancer research. I believe it’s our greatest hope for the future. If we didn’t have clinical trials, I don’t believe we would ever be able to find a cure. I would love to eradicate cancer in my lifetime. Dr. Pecora is ingenious. He’s the best and he’s brilliant. I want to help him continue what he does best through this endowment.”
“Rosemarie is extremely dedicated to our medical center, volunteering her time and participating in various boards,” said Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., president, Hackensack University Medical Center. “Without a doubt, she never misses a meeting. We are extremely grateful to Rosemarie for her outstanding commitment to our medical center and to our patients. And, we are thankful for her generosity to support Dr. Pecora’s groundbreaking research. His efforts are truly making a difference in the lives of those who are battling cancer.”
In addition to serving on various boards, Mrs. Sorce, or “Ro” – as she likes to be called – and a group of friends visit the Hackensack University Medical Center campus while dressed in costume to celebrate specific holidays and events including Halloween, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and the Fourth of July.
“Ro provides incredible joy, not only to patients and their families but also to team members. Everyone lights up when she comes in,” said Mr. Garrett. “It’s like ‘Ro’s Angels’ and she spreads joy to everyone.”
Mrs. Sorce attended the dinner with her husband, Santo “Sandy” Sorce.
“Sandy Sorce has a real heart of gold,” added Mr. Garrett. “His commitment and support to our community, particularly young people speaks volumes about the kind of individual Sandy is. He supports youth organizations in the City of Hackensack, and they support Outreach Angels, which is an organization which helps people with HIV and AIDS. Ro and Sandy’s commitment truly is to make this world a better place in which to live.”
A certified hematologist and oncologist, Dr. Pecora is recognized internationally as one of the world’s foremost experts in blood and marrow stem cell transplantation, cellular medicine and immunology research. In 1989, he spearheaded the development of the John Theurer Cancer Center’s Adult Blood and Marrow Stem Cell Transplantation Program and is responsible for many advancements used in stem cell transplantation today. Dr. Pecora’s current research involves developing vaccines and other cellular medicine techniques that boost the capabilities of a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer and targeted therapies that destroy cancer cells. His research has been published extensively in prestigious medical journals and he is a frequently requested lecturer at conferences all over the world.
Recently, the board of Hackensack Meridian Health approved a $25 million capital fund to create incubator space, among other initiatives, to promote innovation, which has already drawn interests from venture capitalists and life science companies.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that over the next few decades, a Nobel prize will be awarded to some future Hackensack Meridian Health innovator,” said Dr. Pecora.
ABOUT HACKENSACK MERIDIAN HEALTH
Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 13 hospitals, including two academic medical centers, two children’s hospitals and nine community hospitals, physician practices, more than 120 ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, and urgent care and after-hours centers. Hackensack Meridian Health has 28,000 team members, more than 6,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.
The Network’s notable distinctions include having one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more consecutive years, the number one hospital in New Jersey as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Award for Patient Safety and Quality from The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, a six-time recipient of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care” in the nation, and the number one “Best Place to Work for Women.” Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.
The hospitals of Hackensack Meridian Health include: academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune; children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; community hospitals – Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, and Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood.
For additional information, please visit www.HackensackMeridianHealth.org.