Dr. George Buchanan, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Retires After 39 Years

December 01, 2016

Dr. George Buchanan, a renowned pediatric hematology physician-researcher at Children’s Health and a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center has retired after 39 years and has been named professor emeritus of pediatrics by the University of Texas System.

He joined the faculty of UT Southwestern in 1977, after accepting an exceptional opportunity to develop a world-class program at Children’s Medical Center for children with sickle cell disease. At that time, the average lifespan of people in the U.S. with the disease was 14 years old. In 1983, Dr. Buchanan played a key role in Texas becoming the third state to test infants for sickle cell disease at birth, leading to earlier interventions that avoid crises, relieve symptoms and prevent complications. The life expectancy of someone with sickle cell disease currently is about 40 to 60 years, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

“What has given me great joy over the 39 years I’ve been at the medical center has been the opportunity to care for and study children with a wide spectrum of hematologic conditions ranging from leukemia to iron deficiency anemia,” said Dr. Buchanan, who served as director of the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Medical Center Dallas and the Barrett Family Center for Pediatric Oncology at UT Southwestern. “We have made tremendous progress due to the close partnership between Children’s Medical Center Dallas and UT Southwestern and the outstanding professionals who devote so much of their time and energy to these young patients and their families.”

“What has given me great joy over the 39 years I’ve been at the medical center has been the opportunity to care for and study children with a wide spectrum of hematologic conditions ranging from leukemia to iron deficiency anemia.” –Dr. George Buchanan

The sickle cell disease program Dr. Buchanan founded at Children’s has become one of the most distinguished in the world, focusing on clinical care and patient-oriented research. Its team of faculty, fellows, and administrative, clinical, and research support staff has cared for more than 600 patients in the past two years in addition to conducting research that over the years has led to numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health and research published in more than 80 publications.

The Gill Center at Children’s Health is a world-class pediatric treatment center recognized nationally for exceptional clinical care, leadership in pediatric cancer research and academic excellence. In 1992, the hematology-oncology program at Children’s Health was officially named the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCBD). Children’s Medical Center Foundation received a $10 million gift from the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation in 2007, and the CCBD was renamed the Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Dr. Buchanan, who held the Children’s Cancer Fund Distinguished Chair in Pediatric Oncology and Hematology at UT Southwestern, received his medical degree from the University of Chicago in 1970, followed by pediatric residency at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and hematology-oncology fellowship at Children’s Hospital Boston, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School.

During his UT Southwestern tenure, he became a national leader in local and multicenter collaborative research in various areas of hematology, including sickle cell disease, other anemias, bleeding disorders, and childhood cancer. In 2014, the NHLBI released the first comprehensive, evidence-based guidelines for management of sickle cell disease from birth to end of life, based on recommendations developed by a nationwide team of experts co-chaired by Dr. Buchanan. The new management guidelines consist of more than 500 specific recommendations for physicians who are caring for patients with sickle cell disease.

“Dr. Buchanan’s retirement marks the end of an era in the field of childhood blood disorders, where he has left a remarkable record of important contributions,” said Dr. Julio Perez-Fontan, physician-in-chief at Children’s Health, chairman of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and holder of the Robert L. Moore Chair in Pediatrics. “His investigative interests have touched on all the important problems in pediatric hematology, and he has been a leader in the development of management strategies for sickle cell disease, a devastating illness that, despite the advances made in our understanding of its biological underpinnings, still usually has no cure. His appointment as an emeritus professor recognizes these contributions and justifies our continued access to his talents as a clinician, educator, and researcher for years to come.”

Dr. Buchanan has also dedicated himself to training and mentoring young physician-researchers. “I’ve taken great pride in teaching and mentoring health care professionals at all levels to deliver excellent patient care while simultaneously conducting research to advance our knowledge about blood disorders and how best to treat and ideally prevent them,” he said.

Dr. Buchanan has served as president of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology and twice on the Executive Committee of the American Society of Hematology. His other notable accolades include the 2007 Distinguished Career Award from the American Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, the 2008 Mentoring Award in Clinical Research from the American Society of Hematology, the Arnold Gold Foundation Award for Humanism in Medicine from the American Association of Medical Colleges, and the annual George R. Buchanan Lectureship, established by the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.


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