Dr. Charles M. Balch has led a distinguished career as a clinical and academic surgical oncologist for the past 39 years, as a leading authority in both melanoma and breast cancer. He has also made significant contributions to laboratory research in tumor immunology and human T lymphocyte differentiation. He is author of over 730 publications, which have been cited over 21,000 times in the biomedical literature (an average of 56 citations per article, h-index of 70). He has lectured in over 38 different countries in the world and most of the major academic centers in the United States. Dr Balch is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Annals of Surgical Oncology, which is recognized as the leading journal in the world in its field, with over 11,000 surgical and library subscribers in 110 countries. He is also the Editor-in-Chief for Patient Resource Cancer Guides, which distribute over one million cancer guides (with 14 different titles) to cancer patients each year.
Dr Balch is generally regarded as one of the leading melanoma experts in the world. He is the editor of Cutaneous Melanoma, regarded as the authoritative textbook on melanoma, now in its 5th edition. His contributions to the melanoma literature include over 147 published articles, 6 books, and 154 book chapters or invited educational articles regarding his clinical investigations involving the natural history of melanoma, prognostic factors predicting clinical outcome, and standards of surgical treatment. He has published extensively on the conduct and methodology of clinical research. Dr Balch, Dr Seng-jaw Soong and colleagues performed one of the first prognostic factors analysis for melanoma in a landmark paper which was the first to use the Cox multifactorial regression analysis. They were the first to identify the major prognostic factors for Stage I, II and III melanoma that were the independent predictor of survival, including melanoma ulceration as a key predictor of metastases and interferon sensitivity. Their research on the natural history and predictive factors of melanoma clinical outcome essentially redefined the criteria now used worldwide for stratification criteria and end results reporting of clinical trials as well as TNM staging for melanoma.
As Chair of the Melanoma Staging Committee of the AJCC since 1997, Dr Balch and other melanoma experts have organized the largest prognostics factors analysis ever conducted involving 60,000 melanoma patients treated by specialists from 3 continents and all the major cancer cooperative groups. There analyses completely revised the staging system for melanoma that was published in the 6th Edition of the AJCC Staging Manual in 2003, with further revisions in the 7th Edition published in 2009.
He had held major leadership roles involving clinical research in three comprehensive cancer centers (UAB, MD Anderson and City of Hope) prior to coming to Johns Hopkins. He has also held leadership roles involving clinical research in cancer cooperative groups, NIH study sections, and in professional organizations. He has been a Principle Investigator or Co-PI of numerous clinical trials, including 10 phase III trials, most of which were NCI-funded national Phase III trials. Dr Balch has organized or participated in randomized surgical trials that have defined the current standards of melanoma surgery, either through the World Health Organization Melanoma Program or as Principle Investigator of the Intergroup Melanoma Surgical Trial. Their results established the safety of using more conservative surgical excision of a primary melanoma. He has also led 5 multi-institutional randomized clinical trials involving various combinations of adjuvant biological therapy or chemotherapy in high-risk melanoma patients.
In the area of breast cancer, he was one of the co-principle investigators of the only randomized surgical trial compared Halsted radical mastectomy with modified radical mastectomy, and was one of the pioneers of skin-sparing mastectomies followed by immediate breast reconstruction.
In the area of immunology research, He was the first to demonstrate that T lymphocytes were bone-marrow derived and then processed in the thymus, and first described T lymphocyte distribution in various animal species including rats, guinea pigs, rabbits and monkeys. He was also the first to describe human NK and T Cell differentiation antigens, including the widely studied CD57 lymphocyte antigen. He has numerous articles about tumor and transplantation immunology, with over 100 scientific publications and book chapters.
In past years, Dr. Balch has served as Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2000-2005), and as President and CEO of the City of Hope National Medical Center (1996-1999). At the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, from 1985-1996, Dr. Balch served as Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Vice President of Hospital and Clinics, and Head of the Division of Surgery, among other positions. Dr. Balch’s leadership roles have involved the Society of Surgical Oncology (as President in 1992), where he currently serves as Editor-in-Chief for the society’s peer-reviewed journal, the Annals of Surgical Oncology, the American Board of Surgery (Board of Directors), the Association of Academic Surgeons (President) and the Commission on Cancer (Chair, Board of Directors) and the American Joint Committee on Cancer (Executive Committee). He recently was honored with a Ph.D degree (honora causa) from the University of Crete, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Association of Surgical Oncology, and received the Highest Alumni Award from his alma mater, The University of Toledo.