Bob Pinedo first began studying medicine in Leiden in 1960. He later specialized in internal medicine and in 1972 he began to focus specifically on cancer patients. ‘I had just got my PhD and been appointed specialist registrar for Internal Medicine at Utrecht University Hospital. There were many cancer patients in my ward. Surgery was not possible for some of them and there were simply no treatment options left at all. We could not do anything for them. I founded an oncological working group, underwent training, and spent two years carrying out research at the National Cancer Institute in America. In those days, oncology was not such an important branch of medicine as it is now. In fact, there were no oncology courses at all in the Netherlands. Not a single teaching hospital had a Professor of Oncology with his or her own department.’ In 1979, Pinedo was appointed as Professor of Oncology and head of department at VU University Medical Center. He was also given responsibility for the pharmacological laboratory at the Dutch Cancer Institute. Research and patient care has been a winning combination for Professor Pinedo. He has published over 600 research articles in international journals and he was the founder of the VUmc Cancer Center Amsterdam, which now conducts research into cancer.
Pinedo retired as professor in 2008. In his valedictory speech he argued that the current age limits for breast cancer screening should be widened. He received many awards, many of them for his life’s work in its entirety. For example, he won the prestigious Dr Josef Steiner Award and the Spinoza Prize. The former is often referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize for Oncology’, while the latter has been nicknamed the ‘Dutch Nobel Prize for Science’. He has also had an award named after him - the Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Prize. Every year, this award goes to an individual, institution or organization that has made remarkable progress in applied (translational) research and care for cancer patients. Compassion is the key word for this prize.