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October 2003 Volume 5, Issue 8:
Saluting an Incredible Human Being:
Dr. Robert A. Kyle Receives Lifetime Achievement Award
By The Unknown Patient
Rochester, Minnesota is perhaps best known as the home of the Mayo Clinic. Most people to whom myeloma is not unknown also know that Rochester is home to Dr. Robert A. Kyle.
Dr. Robert A. Kyle with IMF President Susie Novis and IMF Board Chairman Dr. Brian Durie

Rochester, Minnesota is perhaps best known as the home of the Mayo Clinic. Most people to whom myeloma is not Unknown also know that Rochester is home to Dr. Robert A. Kyle. Dr. Kyle has been a leader in the scientific community, a beloved physician caring for myeloma patients for longer than the Unknown Patient can remember. When the Unknown Patient heard that the IMF was going to honor Dr. Kyle with its first ever "Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award," he knew he had to pack his Unknown bag and head for the heartland. Your Unknown traveler was joined by people who came to Rochester from every corner of the country with a single purpose in mind—to pay tribute to this warm, wonderful, talented, accomplished human being.

Arriving in Rochester in August, your Unknown friend encountered something he never thought possible in Minnesota—heat and humidity. The Unknown Patient took advantage of the opportunity to consult with a number of physicians at Mayo about some orthopedic issues related to surgery he had over a decade ago. Mayo is an incredible institution, with some of the world's best physicians and an infrastructure that runs like a well-oiled machine but still manages to preserve the human touch.

There was also time for a little recreation. The Unknown Patient was able to visit the Olmstead County Fair with fellow IMFers, Rich and Sue Saletan, making the acquaintance of all manner of livestock, horticulture, cooking, and crafts. Your Unknown author was possessed with an irresistible urge to ride on the tallest and most stomach-wrenching of the carnival rides, which no doubt would have prompted horrified looks from his spouse and his orthopedist.

Having survived the excursion to the fair, the Unknown Patient showered away the scent of the livestock and the ravages of the August heat and put on his party duds for the gala. Guests were offered a tour of the Mayo Myeloma Research labs before the dinner. Needless to say, this was an opportunity not to be missed. So, the Unknown Patient headed off to get a rare peek behind the scenes of one of the world's most prolific myeloma research facilities.

Mayo luminaries Drs. Philip Greipp, Vincent Rajkumar, and Rafael Fonseca led the group through the facility. The group then had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Morie Gertz and other members of the "team that Kyle built." They discussed a number of promising research programs and answered questions about the facility and about future research directions. It was a rare opportunity to get an up close and personal view of the relentless quest for the cure, a chance to see how the research dollars we all help raise are put to good use.

(top row) Drs. Martha Lacy, Angela Dispenzieri, John Lust, Jerry Katzmann,
Diane Jelinek, and Vincent Rajkumar
(bottom row) Philip Greipp, Robert Kyle, Morie Gertz

From there, it was off to the Rochester Marriott for the evening's festivities. The pre-dinner reception was a festive event, with all manner of folks chatting up a storm and taking the opportunity to meet and greet the honoree and his lovely family. The Unknown Patient met many old friends and many others who had come from near and far to join us in honoring Dr. Kyle. The Unknown Patient found three long-term myeloma survivors in the crowd, two out past twelve years and one who was diagnosed over seventeen years ago.

Out of the corner of his eye, your Unknown shutterbug spied the evening's honoree having an intense chat with a sweet-looking woman whom it turns out was married to one of his patients. Apparently, this woman is also a very talented artist. And, she had painted a portrait of Dr. Kyle that she presented to him to honor him on this special occasion. IMF president Susie Novis presented Dr. Kyle with a leather bound copy of the Gala Tribute Journal, acknowledging Bob's lifelong interest in collecting rare stamps and books.

Dr. Robert A. Kyle with his portrait and the artist, Mrs. Fineman

The reception also afforded an opportunity to meet the Kyle clan, most of whom were Unknown to this author before that evening. It was fun to tell them how much we all love him.

Char and Bob Kyle surrounded by family and friends

Dr. Morie Gertz served as emcee for the evening, sharing many personal memories and stories about our honoree. There were jokes about Bob's predictable wardrobe and lunchbox contents, but the overall message was one of profound admiration and respect for the man who built the Mayo's world class Hematology service and Myeloma Research Center. Other speakers included Drs. Brian Durie and Philip Greipp, both of whom have worked with Dr. Kyle over a number of decades. IMFer Mike Katz provided the patient perspective, sharing memories of his first encounter with Dr. Kyle as a Mayo clinic patient. Mike also talked about their many years working together on the IMF Board, at IMF Patient & Family Seminars, as well as at many scientific community conferences. Dr. Jerry Katzmann of the Mayo Clinic also saluted Bob's distinguished career at the Mayo Clinic and congratulated him on receiving the IMF award.

IMF president Susie Novis presented Dr. Kyle with an award established and named in his honor—The Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award. Susie read the inscription from the award, "In appreciation and recognition of a lifetime of dedication, caring, and accomplishment, on behalf of the patient, medical, and scientific communities, the International Myeloma Foundation is proud to present its first Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award to Robert A. Kyle, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine Mayo Clinic."

The Unknown Patient has been fighting his personal battle with myeloma for almost fifteen years now. Due to the efforts of talented scientists like Dr. Kyle, the team that he has built, and the profound effect he has had on myeloma research around the globe, the outlook has never been brighter for myeloma patients. There are exciting new therapies available that did not exist a few short years ago. And, there are an unprecedented number of new therapies in clinical trials and still others being tested in the laboratory.

We thank Dr. Robert A. Kyle for being such a caring physician and for his dedication to advancing myeloma research to bring us closer to the cure. Bravo, Bob!

More impressions of and pictures from the Robert Kyle Lifetime Achievement Awards Dinner

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