The 2022 Awards: Luis Díaz- Chief of Oncology- Solid Tumors Division of Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital

A few days ago, Dr. Luis Díaz Jr., was awarded the Hero of the Year award by the American Cancer Society. Only, in this case, the hero wears a robe, instead of a cape.

During lunch, the doctor was asked what it meant to be a hero, to which he replied:

“It means leaving this world a little better than when you arrived.”

For Dr. Díaz, the son of Peruvian immigrants, that is his mission. And he, from his trench is doing it. As Chief of Oncology, Division of Solid Tumors, Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Center, he has dedicated his life to researching cancer and curing it.

“I always knew that I wanted to do something that would have an impact in the world,” he said. “So when I realized I wasn’t going to be an Olympian I went into science. […] If you can fix something, you can help humanity a lot.”

Dr. Díaz’s specialty is colon and pancreatic cancer research, the latter one of the most difficult to detect.

“The goal is to see how it can be diagnosed,” said the 51-year-old doctor.

To become a supervisor for 200 cancer researchers, however, there was a lot of hard work to do. He graduated as a physician from the University of Michigan and later did his specialty in oncology and medicine at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University, where he was a professor for almost 20 years. For six years, he has been a part of Memorial Sloan Kettering.

The inspiration for Dr. Diaz was his father, a prominent dermatologist who also has a practice in New York.

“You always have your heroes, and he is mine,” he said.

Regarding his career and mission, Dr. Díaz said that with each passing year there is more success in the fight against cancer, and that just as a painter aspires to immortalize himself with a painting, he aspires to go down in history for his findings. But not only that.

“For us it is very important that it comes from a Latino,” he said. “Because we are just entering the modern world with impact.”

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