UTSW faculty donor gives $100,000 for prostate cancer research

By Sharon Reynolds 

The late Dr. John Boddie and his wife, Dr. Joan S. Reisch

Dr. Joan S. Reisch has a saying: “I was born in Connecticut, grew up in Ohio, and moved to Texas … where I live happily ever after.” With a career spanning 60 years, she is currently a UT Southwestern Professor of Population and Data Sciences and Family and Community Medicine and a generous donor for prostate cancer research, in honor of her late husband.

At Southern Methodist University, she discovered her passion for numbers, earning master’s and doctorate degrees in mathematical statistics. She also met the love of her life, Dr. John Boddie, who was studying statistics as well. They married and spent almost 40 years together.

In 2012, Dr. Boddie was diagnosed with small cell carcinoma of the prostate, a deadly form of prostate cancer. He turned to Dr. Reisch’s colleague at UT Southwestern, Dr. Kevin Courtney, for care. Dr. Courtney is an Associate Professor in Internal Medicine and currently specializes in genitourinary malignancies. His research emphasis is on prostate and kidney cancer.

“Dr. Courtney managed to keep John as healthy and active as possible. He explored many treatments, including genetic solutions, as well as chemotherapy and radiation. He is a remarkable and compassionate person who treats all people with respect,” Dr. Reisch said.

Before Dr. Boddie passed away in 2017, he and his wife rewrote their wills. “After John died, I asked myself, ‘Why am I waiting? I don’t need all of the funds that I have available, so why not put them to use now?’ And I did. I made a gift to support Dr. Courtney’s prostate cancer research. He’s been my student, my colleague, John’s doctor – he’s just a wonderful person,” she said.

Dr. Reisch’s $100,000 gift will support Dr. Courtney’s efforts to better understand how prostate cancer cells metabolize certain fuels in ways that are unique compared with normal prostate cells. These studies may provide insight into potential new metabolic targets for treatment of prostate cancer.

“I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Reisch for her extraordinarily generous donation supporting our research efforts,” Dr. Courtney said. “Her gift honors the late Dr. Boddie. I was privileged to be his oncologist and honored that they entrusted me with his care. Dr. Reisch also played an important role in my development as a clinical scientist in her role as Professor of Population and Data Sciences here at UT Southwestern.”

At UTSW, Dr. Reisch served in leadership roles in Biometrics, Academic Computing Services, and headed the Division of Biostatistics in the Department of Clinical Science (now the Department of Population and Data Sciences). Since 1988, she has directed the statistical and data management activities of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center. She has been a frequent reviewer for the National Institute on Aging. She served 25 years on UTSW’s Institutional Review Board for human research.

“Statistical methods are playing an increasingly important role in health care and medical research,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “In her various roles as leader, teacher, mentor, and friend, Dr. Reisch has inspired growth and change at UT Southwestern through the years. We appreciate her efforts to advance prostate cancer research while leaving a lasting legacy in her husband’s memory.”

Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.