Setsuko Chambers

Areas of Achievement: 

Honored By

Honored by: Joiner, Keith
Date submitted: February 07, 2008
Gift: Engraved Paver, Large

Setsuko Kuki Chambers, M.D., is truly one of a kind. Her combination of intellect, compassion, drive, spirit, and focus on excellence benefit all those with whom she interacts, but most especially her patients, her trainees, and her professional colleagues. This combination constantly amazes her husband (especially the spirit part), who cannot imagine he was lucky enough to have married such a unique woman.

Setsuko was born in Hyde Park, Illinois, on October 30, 1955. She is a first generation Japanese American. Her father was a mathematics faculty member at the University of Chicago. Her mother was a member of the Japanese Royalty ̱ Setsuko's maternal grandfather was a Baron, and her maternal great grandfather was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Japan.

From an early age, both Setsuko and her parents realized she was 'different'. This little girl had a mind of her own, and let people know it. This single-mindedness has propelled her through a career filled with firsts.

Her father died from colon cancer at age 46, when Setsuko was 16. This remains one of the most poignant and important events in her life, and influenced her to become a physician and to specialize in oncology.

Setsuko attended the prestigious Lab School at the University of Chicago, before enrolling in the 6 year BA/MD program at Brown University. She moved to Yale University School of Medicine for her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology. She joined the Yale faculty, and became the first tenured female professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Yale. She was the first Gynecologic Oncologist to receive a Research Scientist Training Program award from the National Institutes of Health, which provided her with superb skills in biomedical research that she has applied to ovarian cancer and more recently to breast cancer. She moved to the University of Arizona College of Medicine, in 2004, and became the first Director of Woman's Cancers at the Arizona Cancer Center, and the first recipient of the Bobby Olson Endowed Chair in Woman's Cancers.

Setsuko loves food (particularly Asian), loves to cook (particularly Asian), and loves to go to restaurants (particularly Asian). The first words out of her mouth in the morning are typically 'what shall we do for dinner?' Setsuko is masterful at planning adventure vacations to remote locations throughout the world and arranging accommodations and food and activities which are unusual, and always superb. She has a strong connection to the water ̱ oceans, lakes, sounds, rivers ̱ and to water-sports ̱ especially kayaking - which explains why, looking out the window of the plane when landing in Tucson to interview for her faculty position, she commented 'This looks like the moon'. She has grown to appreciate the beauty of the Southwest, while also identifying every body of water in the entire state suitable for kayaking. Her husband is the direct beneficiary of all of these remarkable traits, and is fortunate to have this opportunity to honor her.