Native son helps fight cancer with screenings, research, education
Karl Peace knows first-hand the devastating effect cancer can have on a family. His mother, Elsie Mae Cloud Peace, had a double mastectomy at age 36 for breast cancer, and his father, Cecil, died of colorectal cancer at the age of 59. His wife, Jiann-Ping Hsu, died at age 56 of metastatic breast cancer.
Peace grew up in Baker County, Georgia, a rural community of 4,000, and graduated from Baker County High School. He graduated from several universities, including Georgia Southern, and built an outstanding career in the research and development of pharmaceuticals. From there he moved to the academic world, where he is a professor of biostatistics, a senior research scientist, and a Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Cancer Scholar.
For Peace, the fight against cancer is not only personal, it’s local. That’s why he recently gave $20,000 to support a study titled ‘Baker County, Georgia: Navigating Toward #1 in Cancer Screening.” The study includes a breast and colorectal cancer screening program for the citizens of Baker County. Baker County has recently re-opened its high school, and Peace is already proposing a cancer education program for students there.
‘By providing health education to students in Baker County High School, we could study the long-term impacts of health literacy on cancer prevention,” said Peace. ‘Results of a long-term study like this could have an impact not only in Baker County, but across the nation.”
Peace is also a familiar face at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Ga. He does pro bono research for the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition, supporting its efforts to eliminate barriers to cancer care in the 33-county region of southwest Georgia.
‘Although Karl Peace experienced enormous success applying his mathematical skills to solve complex problems in drug research, he never forgot his roots in south Georgia,” said James Hotz, M.D., medical director of the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition. ‘Karl returned to Georgia as a Distinguished Cancer Scholar and has been an invaluable resource to help our coalition tackle some of the highest cancer rates in the country.� He has been incredibly generous with his time, talent and treasure, and I am sure the people of Baker County are proud of the success and generosity of one of their favorite sons.”
Recognizing that education is vital to improving the quality of health, Peace has used his resources, both personal and financial, to improve health education in Baker County and all of Georgia. To honor his wife, he endowed the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University, but he did not stop there. He also teaches in the college, providing invaluable guidance to students and colleagues through both teaching and research.
Over the years he has established 11 scholarship endowments at Georgia Southern, including five for Baker County students who attend Georgia Southern. The Reeves-Peace Scholarship and the Vines-Peace Scholarship, both in mathematics, computer science, and biostatistics, reflect the positive impact that his Baker County High School math teacher and principal, respectively, had on his life. He also created the Emily Joan Peace Scholarship in nutritional science to honor his sister; the Mitchell E. Peace Scholarship in journalism to honor his brother; and the Christopher K. Peace Scholarship in political science to honor his son. In addition to scholarships, Peace has enabled improvements in intra-campus transportation for handicapped students at Georgia Southern, and he has established a biostatistics library on campus.
Throughout his life, Peace has written books about biostatistics, founded and edited a variety of academic journals, reviewed books, and written grants. He is founder of BASS, the annual Biopharmaceutical Applied Statistics Symposium. He has traveled the nation and the world, but it’s easy to see that his heart has never left south Georgia.
Look closely, and you’ll find it nestled firmly in the farms and fields of Baker County.