Nicholas Petrelli, M.D., Receives Lifetime Achievement Award From Tulane University Medical School

Nicholas Petrelli, M.D.

Nicholas Petrelli, M.D., Bank of America Endowed Medical Director of ChristianaCare’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. Petrelli is a 1973 graduate of the school.

The award recognizes an alumnus of the school who has made significant contributions to the field of medicine and has offered outstanding leadership in the community.

Under Petrelli’s leadership at ChristianaCare since 2001, the Graham Cancer Center has become a national model for multidisciplinary cancer care and a top enroller in U.S. clinical research trials. The Graham Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program and one of only five hybrid academic community cancer centers in the nation.

Through the work of the Graham Cancer Center and partnerships with health care providers, community organizations and the state to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, Delaware’s cancer mortality rate has dropped twice as fast as the national rate. In addition, the state is outpacing the nation in reducing deaths from a number of cancers. Delaware has gone from number one in cancer mortality 22 years ago to number 17 today.

Petrelli has numerous achievements in cancer care and research. He has established several firsts for Delaware, including a multidisciplinary disease center site, the Cawley Center for Translational Cancer Research, a tissue procurement center, an adult genetic counseling program, a statewide high-risk family cancer registry consisting of more than 500,000 individuals and an innovative oncology express unit to provide patients with cancer a way to address urgent care needs without having to go to the emergency department.

Among his accomplishments on the national level are the first primary care practice established at a cancer center and the first gene editing research program integrated into a community cancer center.

Through a unique research partnership with the Ellen and Ronald Caplan Cancer Center of The Wistar Institute, he has brought cutting-edge cancer treatments and diagnostics to Delawareans. And in a ground-breaking collaboration among the government, community organizations and the Graham Cancer Center nearly 10 years ago, Delaware ended the disparity between Black and white people for colorectal cancer screenings and mortality, which continues to this day.

Petrelli has received numerous awards and has authored 360 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 31 book chapters. He has served on advisory panels of the National Cancer Institute, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American Cancer Society and the Society of Surgical Oncology. He was president of the Society of Surgical Oncology from 2007 to 2008. In 2013 he received the Order of the First State Award, the highest honor in the state, from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. In 2019 he received the James Tilton award from the Medical Society of Delaware.