In Memory

Stephen Ichiro Shibata M. D.

Stephen Ichiro Shibata M. D.

This letter dated April 23, 2012, to the staff of the City of Hope was provided by Rose Virani. Rose works as a Senior Research Specialist at City of Hope.

Dear Colleagues:

I am deeply saddened to inform you that beloved City of Hope physician, researcher and friend, Stephen I. Shibata, M.D., died over the weekend after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 58.

Well-liked and admired by patients, faculty and staff alike, Dr. Shibata had been one of our most recognized experts in the study and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. He first came to City of Hope in 1988 as a medical oncology and hematology fellow. After working in private practice for a few years, Dr. Shibata returned to City of Hope in 1993 as a staff physician in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research. His extensive clinical experience and contributions to research led to a position in 2004 as director for the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program. During his tenure as director, Dr. Shibata helped to create a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to treating gastrointestinal cancers that included leading-edge treatments and clinical trials in the areas of targeted therapeutics and multidrug therapy, helping to assure patients received the best care available.
A highly regarded researcher, Dr. Shibata had been involved in numerous gastrointestinal-related clinical trials ranging from prevention studies to adjuvant therapy for early disease, to novel treatments for metastatic liver cancer, and quality-of-life studies. He also pioneered treatments for metastatic colorectal cancer to the liver. His contributions to the research of gastrointestinal cancer is reflected in the volume of articles and abstracts that appeared in many professional journals including the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Clinical Cancer Research and the British Journal of Cancer.
Dr. Shibata earned his Bachelor of Science degree, magna cum laude, in biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and later received his medical degree from the University of California, Irvine. He continued his medical training by completing an internship and residency at St. Mary Medical Center, Long Beach, followed by his fellowships here at City of Hope.
Dr. Shibata is survived by his wife, Dr. Alice Sun, son Benjamin and daughter Emily. Funeral arrangements are pending upon notification from the family.
The loss of Dr. Shibata is profound for all of us; he was a remarkable human being and a very dear friend. It will be up to us to assure that he will never be forgotten.
Michael A. Friedman, M.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Director, Comprehensive Cancer Center
Irell & Manella Cancer Center’s Director’s Distinguished Chair

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04/24/12 11:08 AM #1    

Annette Roux (Sister Marie Gabrielle)

What a wonderful tribute to a much admired and loved man. My prayers are with him that his soul may rest in the Vision of God and for peace and consolation for his family.

04/24/12 04:19 PM #2    

Sharon Lucas

I first met Stephen in Mrs Behar's class in the 6th grade at Lincoln Elementary school. Even then he was so very smart. Years later when I began working in Palliative Care, I reconnected with Rose Virani who had helped develop an end of life training curriculum for nurses at the City of Hope and I attended the class. She told me then that Stephen was an Oncologist at City of Hope. Our lives would continue to cross paths, as through my beloved dog I met his cousin Mark and Mark's wife Judy who have a Samoyed like mine from the same breeder. We belong to the same dog club and share common friends, one of whom came down with severe Pancreatic Cancer and Stephen gave Diane such excellent and compassionate care. She was beyond treatment options by the time he saw her and rather than further reduce her quality of life Stephen compassionately treated her and her family with honesty, so they could choose how she would spend her final days without losing hope. She ultimately chose hospice, never suffered and her family was beyond grateful. I can only imagine how many other lives he touched and saved with compassion and skill and grace. He leaves behind a legacy that he and his family certainly can be proud of. I share in the sadness of his loss with his friends and colleagues and offer my blessings to his family.

04/26/12 07:47 PM #3    

Mark Carlin

While Steve was a friend, I wasn't ever really close with him, but I liked and admired him immensely for his intellect, humor, kindness and athletic abilities. He was bright, thoughtful and a gifted academic (Sharon Lucas was right - Steve was REALLY smart). Aditionally, he was mature and well-adjusted, even back then.

Personally, he was quick and very witty (GREAT sense of humor). He was polite, diplomatic and curteous. I don't know if he was a Boy Scout, but he surely acted like a GOOD one.

No surprise that he became a respected and well-loved Oncologist.

A funny reminicscence:
While I'd known Steve since 6th grade at Lincoln - omni presnt on the Playground and active in Baseball, he'd become a way-faster-than-usual guy in the 50yd dash that Edwards and Thurman administered at SPJHS. But, funny thing- he didn't swing his arms alot when he ran so fast: he kinda ran with his arms down flat at his sides. It was odd, yet, highly effective for him. In later years, I noticed he was even faster when he swung his arms for momentum. He was a good athelete.

I'm so glad to have known him and wish I'd been closer to such a wonderful and beautiful man.

Rest In Peace, Brother Steve
Bless You

05/25/12 02:28 PM #4    

Rose Marie Karlowitsch (Virani)

Today, Friday, May 25, 2012, I attended Steve Shibata’s Celebration of Life held at the City of Hope.  This was a very heartfelt tribute to a wonderful, humble person.  The CEO opened the program with a welcome and spoke of Steve as a “smart, selfless, kind humanitarian.”  There were many notable speakers that spoke of Steve’s professional accomplishments and their admiration of him as a researcher and a clinician.  The common words used about Steve were “selfless, caring, smart, patient, gentle, down-to-earth, and always smiling.” Then others spoke of the personal side of Steve and his dry sense of humor.  Steve enjoyed golf; basketball, deep sea fishing and attending sports events.  In fact, even though he graduated from UCLA, Steve came from a family of Trojans.  Annually, he wagered with others at work on the outcome of the USC and Notre Dame football game and the loser would have to buy the winner a pastrami sandwich.  Guess who, for most of the last 20 years, was the winner!!  Yes it was Steve.  Steve never complained the last four years of his life after he was diagnosed with cancer and he always came to work smiling even though he was suffering.  He was always concerned about his patients and his research.  In fact, a few days before his death, Steve finished a manuscript that detailed his findings that has now been submitted for publication (however, the article may not be published  for another year). 

 For me, Steve was a casual friend in high school, but that changed after we met in 1993 in the halls of City of Hope.  When we saw each other, we asked what each was doing there at City of Hope and we both started laughing when we both stated that we worked there.  Then we would reminisce about high school, talk about our kids and about upcoming reunions, etc.  Steve attended the 2002 “30th” reunion, but I was unable to attend due to a business trip.  But Steve kept me posted on who he saw that year and what people were doing.  The last couple of years, Steve and I lost touch as he used all energy that he had to come to work, take care of patients and his research and go home to his family.  Steve's # 1 joy was his love of his family and  spending time with them: wife, Alice; son, Benjamin and daughter, Emily.   

 A memorial fund has been set up in Steve’s name (Dr. Stephen Shibata Memorial GI Research Fund) at the City of Hope which will continue the vision that Steve had to find new treatments and cures for gastrointestinal cancers. 

Steve, you will be missed by me and your family at City of Hope,

Rose Virani (Karlowitsch)

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