Partnering to Fight Cancer

Elizabeth Harden, MD’78, HS’81-’84, and Richard Hoefer, DO, have known the value of a good partnership since they met 30 years ago, while both were serving in the Air Force in Texas. They’ve been a couple ever since, in life and in work. 

Harden, a medical oncologist, and Hoefer, a surgical oncologist, work in different practices in Newport News, Virginia, but they regularly care for the same patients. “You can’t be a good medical oncologist by yourself,” Harden says. “You need surgeons, radiologists, radiation oncologists.” 

Duke Cancer Institute’s mission to bridge boundaries to provide multidisciplinary cancer care led Harden and Hoefer to make an estate gift that supports both of their professional passions, in the form of an endowed pilot fund and a professorship. “Bench research that gets translated to the bedside gives me the tools I need to take care of my patients,” Harden says. 

A professorship rounds out their gift. “We wanted to make sure Duke has the funding to keep good people.” Hoefer says. 

Harden’s Duke education and training influence her daily. “The Duke colleagues I met and continue to work with and the excellence demanded of us made me the doctor I am today,” she says.