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In memoriam: Nora Navone, MD, PhD

January 16, 2024 By: MD Anderson News Release

In memoriam: Nora Navone, MD, PhD

Nora Navone, M.D., Ph.D., professor, Genitourinary Medical Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center, who was affiliated with school’s program in Cancer Biology, died Dec. 15, 2023. She is remembered as an accomplished translational scientist who was a generous mentor and championed her teammates’ success. She was 70.

Navone first came to MD Anderson in 1989 for postgraduate studies after completing her medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. After spending five years at Science Park in Smithville as a project investigator and research associate, she joined the faculty as an assistant professor of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis in 1994. She transferred to Genitourinary Medical Oncology in 1995; and joined the faculty of our MD Anderson UTHealth Houston Graduate School in 1996.  A steady presence in the department’s research, Navone achieved associate professor in 2003 and full professor in 2015.

Her lab focused on the understanding of how prostate cancer interacts with bone metastases, and she developed a novel platform with a unique set of animal models that’s now used worldwide and accelerated prostate cancer research.

Colleagues recall her dedication to research excellence and mentorship of young scientists, allowing the students and trainees she worked with the freedom to explore their ideas and providing support and guidance wherever possible.

“She was confident of our potential and provided constant guidance and full trust in us to pursue our ideas,” says Estefania Labanca, PhD, instructor, Genitourinary Medical Oncology, and former graduate student under Navone who now is a Graduate School faculty member. “She gave us the freedom to pursue our goals and was a good example of an inspiring scientist.”

Others agree. “She’s a role model and mentor for why being kind and retaining a human spirit isn’t in conflict with a productive career and scientific ambition,” says Christopher Logothetis, MD, professor, Genitourinary Medical Oncology. “Nora was one of those champions of humility that is generous with ideas and who took great pride in seeing others use her observations – she really moved the whole field along in this way.”

Her kindness and dedication to her work helped her create friendships across the institution, and her empathy and medical training helped her create excellent translational research opportunities.

“Even though she didn’t practice as a physician, she had a physician’s instinct and understood what it takes to translate basic observations into clinical relevance,” recalls Logothetis. “It’s a minority of scientists who do that, and her work will help us accomplish our end goal of treating and curing cancer.”

Outside of the lab, she was known for being proud of her Argentinian heritage and her warm sense of humor. Above all, she was known for her generosity and for hoping to make that generosity spread to others.

“Those of us in her lab are committed to continue her legacy,” notes Labanca. “We will make sure people know her through us and our continued work.”


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