Saint Louis University

ST. LOUIS -- Mark Varvares, M.D., director of Saint Louis University Cancer Center has received a national award for his advocacy work for music therapy.

Mark Varvares, M.D. directs Saint Louis University Cancer Center.

He professes a deep appreciation for the power of music, but alas, no ability.

"I have absolutely no musical talent, but I used to attempt to play the guitar," Varvares says. "Now our music therapist Crystal Weaver uses my old guitar for her inpatient consults."

While he is not a musician, Varvares is a champion of the power of music therapy to help patients cope with pain, discomfort and anxiety. Varvares advocates the benefits of music therapy in the SLU Cancer Center's clinic -- with patients, residents, fellows, attending physicians and peers. Under his leadership, SLU Cancer Center has become the only cancer center in the area to fully embrace music therapy by having a dedicated full-time music therapist on staff.

"I feel most happy about the award because it recognizes the music therapy program we have developed at Saint Louis University Cancer Center. It reflects our commitment to treat patients in a holistic way," said Varvares, who also is chair of the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Saint Louis University.

"We have created a clinical program that treats patients, a research program that seeks to answer some of the important questions about music therapy and an educational hub that draws music therapy students to SLU for internships. Launching our music therapy program is one of our significant innovations during the last two years, and I am both honored and humbled at the national recognition."

The American Music Therapy Association, which is the professional organization for music therapists, made the presentation on Friday.

Read more about the SLU Cancer Center music therapy program.

Find out about the SLU Cancer Center-St. Louis Symphony partnership.

Visit the Saint Louis University Cancer Center's website.

Learn about the American Music Therapy Association.