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Dr. William Hocking honored

Dr. William Hocking receives Sebold plaque from D. David "Dewey" Sebold

​​​​​​​​​​​​​D. David “Dewey” Sebold, right, presents the 26th Sebold Award to Dr. William Hocking on, a Marshfield Clinic oncologist and medical researcher, on Wednesday at Marshfield Clinic’s Froehlke Auditorium in Marshfield.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Marshfield Clinic physician/researcher honored as 26th Sebold Award recipient.

Dr. William Hocking, a cancer specialist and medical researcher, has an intense interest in lung cancer for one very simple reason – it’s the most deadly type of cancer that afflicts his patients.

That passion directed his research efforts, which in turn led to numerous studies in which he played a key role. Among those studies was one critically important finding that showed how CT screening could detect lung cancer earlier than other methods and save more lives.

Hocking, a 30-year veteran of Marshfield Clinic, was recognized for his research, including his work with lung cancer screening, Wednesday night when he was named the recipient of the 26th Gwen D. Sebold Research Fellowship. The award recognizes an outstanding medical researcher and supports continued research in his or her chosen field with $5,000.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Hocking said. “The Sebold Award is the one award within our institution that recognizes outstanding research and the role it plays in improving health care for our patients.”​​

Hocking has authored dozens of research papers and has participated in influential studies published in some of the most respected medical journals, including The New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people die in the U.S. each year from lung cancer than from any other cancer. For that reason, Hocking has committed much of his research efforts to save those lives.

Because treatment is difficult, Hocking turned his efforts to early detection and screening. In 2011, the results of a multi-year National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST) study showed that regular screening can make a difference. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Hocking and his NLST colleagues reported CT scans could reduce rates of lung cancer deaths by 20 percent.

“A lot of work you do as a researcher doesn’t lead to that kind of immediate impact,” said Hocking, who also was instrumental in the national Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial (PLCO). “To be involved in something that profound was fantastic, because you know it can have a huge impact on patients’ lives.”

Dr. Douglas Reding, a Clinic oncologist/hematologist and previous Sebold Award recipient, said Hocking’s leadership role in PLCO and NLST has been invaluable.

“The NLST was the first lung cancer screening trial of any type that demonstrated a screening benefit,” said Reding, who also serves as the Clinic’s vice president. “As a result of the NLST Trial, a national guideline for lung cancer screening was developed for high-risk persons. This will have a huge impact on persons who may be diagnosed with this disease.”

During his Clinic tenure, Hocking also served as chairman of the Department of Hematology/Oncology and Medical Research Foundation Board. He spent three years as Clinic president following a one-year stint as vice president.

Although he plans to retire in December from his medical practice, he’ll continue to research cancer. In fact, he already knows how he plans to use the Sebold Award gift. That money likely will help fund lung cancer screening research and a breast cancer survivorship study.

The Sebold award was established in 1987 by D. David “Dewey” Sebold in honor of his sister, Gwen Sebold. Gwen grew up in Dorchester, about 30 miles north of Marshfield, and joined Marshfield Clinic as a medical stenographer in 1955. She died of cancer in July 1974.

Sebold, also a Dorchester native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, held several positions at Tombstone Pizza Corporation, ultimately serving as its president and chief executive officer. In 1989, he formed Sebold Enterprises, an asset management and business-consulting firm.

He’s involved in many professional and civic organizations, and is a charter member and now an emeritus member of Marshfield Clinic's National Advisory Council (NAC). He also served as past NAC chairman. The NAC is a group of national leaders assisting Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation (MCRF) and Marshfield Clinic with development and long-term planning.

​​The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education in more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.

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