In Memoriam: Edith P. Mitchell, MD

(November 20, 1947–January 21, 2024)

Edith P. Mitchell, MD, an oncologist, the enterprise vice president for cancer disparities at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a retired brigadier general in the United States (US) Air Force, had a lifelong commitment to health equity.

Dr. Mitchell joined Jefferson Health in 1995 and held several positions, including director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities and clinical professor of medicine and medical oncology. She became enterprise vice president for cancer disparities at Jefferson ‘s SKCC in 2023.

Raised on a farm in West Tennessee, Dr. Mitchell received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1969. She completed medical school at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond in 1974. She was commissioned in the US Air Force through its Health Professions Scholarship Program and entered active service after completing an internship and residency at Meharry Medical College in Nashville and a fellowship at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

She became a senior flight surgeon and served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for 36 years. She was the first woman physician to rise to the rank of brigadier general, a rank to which she was promoted in 2001 after completing flight training and earning her wings.

In 2015, she was named the 116th president of the National Medical Association. She was a member of the President’s Cancer Panel from 2019-2023, and she served on the National Cancer Institute’s Blue Ribbon Panel to advise the National Cancer Advisory Board on then-Vice President Joe Biden’s National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

An AACR member since 2016, Dr. Mitchell was a member of the steering committee for the AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2022 and served on the program committee for the 15th AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2022. She received the AACR Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship in 2021. She was also a member of the AACR Women in Cancer Research and AACR Minorities in Cancer Research constituency groups.

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