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Wheeling Hospital’s Dr. Merrick Earns ABS’ Highest Honor

June 24, 2019

WHEELING – The American Brachytherapy Society (ABS) has awarded its highest honor to Wheeling Hospital urologic oncologist Dr. Gregory Merrick, director of Wheeling Hospital’s Schiffler Cancer Center.

Merrick has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 ABS Ulrich Henschke Award. The prestigious award was first given in 1981 and is the highest honor bestowed by the society to a practitioner of brachytherapy. It is awarded for contributions to the field of brachytherapy, the radiation therapy community and to the ABS. Dr. Henschke is considered the father of modern-day brachytherapy for his initial work in the 1950s, including his technology advancements still in use today.

In 2017, Merrick was selected as one of only 12 physicians in the U.S. as a Fellow in the ABS.

In congratulating Merrick, Dr. Peter Orio III, president of the ABS, said, “You are a luminary, a researcher, an advocate and a mentor and friend to many. You have helped countless men through your drive, determination and grit. You have never wavered in your belief and passion.

“Your generous spirit has shaped the next generation of brachytherapists and your legacy is forever secured.”

Merrick said, “I am honored to be recognized by my peers. However, there are no individual awards – only team awards. Our successes are a result of the diligent and skilled work of our Schiffler family.”

Under Merrick’s direction, the Schiffler Cancer Center has established an international reputation in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, having treated patients from 43 states and 17 countries.

Merrick is a nationally recognized uro-oncology expert. He is the past president and chairman of the board of the ABS. He also is a Fellow in the American College of Radiology, where he served as chairman of the Prostate Cancer Appropriateness Committee. He has been the genito-urinary section editor of the journal Brachytherapy and has served as a manuscript reviewer for 16 peer-reviewed scientific oncologic and urologic journals.

Merrick also is a member of the Best Doctors of America. He has been in the association’s database since 1998.

He has published hundreds of original scientific studies on urologic cancer, co-authored two textbooks and lectured across the U.S. and abroad. His research has advanced brachytherapy patient selection and technique, prostate biopsy, treatment and post-operative management. Merrick also has evaluated mechanisms of erectile dysfunction and participated in large studies evaluating investigational drugs for end-stage prostate cancer.

In conjunction with his colleague, Dr. Kent Wallner at the University of Washington, Merrick has completed three prospective randomized prostate brachytherapy trials evaluating efficacy and quality of life. Brachytherapy involves the injection of permanent radioactive seeds into the prostate gland. They give off a low dose of radiation over several weeks or months, and remain in the prostate gland permanently

Merrick also has developed innovative prostate biopsy techniques that have resulted in improved prostate cancer diagnostic accuracy. These biopsy techniques have impacted patient selection criteria for active surveillance. For patients with documented slow growing cancer, treatment is no longer necessary.

Merrick also serves as the director of the Wheeling Hospital’s Men’s Health Center and Urologic Research Institute.

Earlier this month, Merrick was announced as this year’s Chambers YMCA Light of the Valley Honoree. Merrick will be presented with the Dr. Lee Jones Patron of Youth Award at the annual Light of the Valley luncheon at noon Aug. 28 at Wheeling Park’s White Palace. WVU Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Huggins will be the featured speaker.

YMCA officials said Merrick was an obvious choice for the YMCA Light of the Valley award for his work with youth and for bringing a better awareness of men’s health in the Ohio Valley.
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