“I always liked science. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to study cancer and what causes it, and then prevent it.”
Rep. Robert Wexler
“PIONEER IN GENETICS OF BREAST CANCER”
As a youngster, Elisabeth McKeen loved to read. One of her favorite books was a biography of Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and first person to win or share two Nobels, for physics (1903) and chemistry (1911). This and another about Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), the first woman physician and a pioneering advocate for women in medicine, inspired McKeen to become a doctor, which was a fortunate decision for the many people she has since helped to fight breast cancer.
As an advocate for breast cancer research, and a pioneer in the genetics of the disease, McKeen has devoted her career to improving patient care and devising new methods of treatment. In Florida, she has helped establish a high-risk breast cancer clinic and the first breast cancer hospice in the southern part of the state.
"Genetics has always interested me," McKeen says. "In high school I loved genetics and biology. I always wanted to study cancer and then figure out how to prevent it."
Nominated as a Local Legend of Medicine by Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL-19), McKeen has pioneered new genetic screening programs for breast cancer, and has developed treatment methods that have doubled the percentage of women able to avoid mastectomies.
McKeen performed her residency training at Emory University Affiliated Hospitals, in Atlanta, became a Fellow in Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics of Human Cancer at the National Cancer Institute, in Bethesda, MD, and then a Fellow in Medical Epidemiology at Georgetown University Hospital, in Washington, DC.
In demand as a speaker on cancer prevention, treatment, the genetics of cancer, and pain prevention, McKeen is widely published in professional medical journals.
Rep. Wexler praises her as the "definitive patient advocate," available 24/7 to provide her formidable professional skills and personal care. "She exemplifies the meaning of excellence in healthcare and has given women hope and the ability to live their lives with strength and dignity," Wexler says.
McKeen, who has worked tirelessly for improved patient care, feels the patient- doctor relationship to be the cornerstone of cancer treatment. "It is most rewarding to try to give back to my patients for all the trust and hope they place in me," she describes. "Cancer treatment is special that way - a tremendously rewarding team effort that, when you succeed in beating cancer, it's just a great feeling for everybody involved."
Reflecting on career long, productive career, McKeen says she most like to be remembered as a "doctor who gave and cared deeply for all her patients" because, "In the end, that's what medicine is all about."
Medical Director, Hospice of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach, FL
Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Florida, Department of Medicine, Gainesville, FL
Consulting Associate, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
Medical Director, Zisson Comprehensive Breast Center, Good Samaritan Medical Center, West Palm Beach, FL
Chair, Clinical Advisory Board for Breast Cancer, Gray Cancer Institute, Good Samaritan Medical Center, West Palm Beach, FL
Medical Director, Cancer Genetics & Counseling, Tarzian Cancer Genetics Program, Good Samaritan Medical Center, West Palm Beach, FL
Cancer Genetics Consulting Physician, Memorial Cancer Institute, Hollywood, FL
The Albany Medical College, Albany, NY
Medical Oncology and Hematology