Recognition for cancer researchers

World-class cancer researchers whose science has significantly contributed to progress in the fight against cancer will be recognized April 14-18, 2007, by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) at its 2007 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, Calif.

A series of awards given annually by the AACR, the world's oldest and largest professional organization representing cancer scientists from the United States and nearly 70 other countries, honor outstanding accomplishments in basic research, clinical care, therapeutics and prevention. Each recipient presents an educational lecture at the AACR Annual Meeting.

“During this, our Centennial year, we are privileged to recognize some of the many dedicated scientists, nominated by their peers, whose extraordinary work has helped to shape the direction of cancer research,” said AACR Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.).

“As we commemorate 100 years of progress in cancer research, we look to these individuals as research leaders in our shared mission to conquer cancer,” Foti added.

Peers and colleagues nominate award candidates. Selection committees for each award, comprised of leaders in all areas of cancer research, choose the honorees.

This year's winners are a diverse group of cancer researchers from around the country who exemplify the theme of the 2007 Annual Meeting, “A Century of Leadership in Science, A Future of Cancer Prevention and Cures.” The honorees are:

Janet S. Butel, Ph.D., The Joseph L. Melnick Professor of Virology; Program Leader, Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center; Director, Baylor-UTHouston Center for AIDS Research; and Distinguished Service Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, will be honored with the 10th Annual AACR-Women in Cancer Research-Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship, for her fundamental contributions to the biology of tumor viruses, their oncogenic mechanisms, and their importance in the infectious etiology of cancer. The Women in Cancer Research Council of the AACR established this lectureship in 1998 to honor renowned virologist and discoverer of the Friend virus, Dr. Charlotte Friend. The lecture recognizes an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of women in science. Butel will present her lecture, “Polyomavirus SV40: insights into viral carcinogenesis,” at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, in Hall B of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Harold P. Freeman, M.D., Professor of Clinical Surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and President, Founder, and Medical Director of the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention in New York, is the recipient of the second annual AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research-Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship, for his innovative work on the Patient Navigator Program, a community-based strategy to reduce cancer disparities; for his patient-focused programs in breast and cervical cancer screening in a public hospital; for translating hospital cancer care to the community; and for raising awareness of the economic, social, and racial injustices related to health disparities through his scholarship. The award, sponsored by the AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Council, is named in honor of Jane Cooke Wright, M.D., an African-American woman pioneer in clinical cancer chemotherapy and an exceptional scientist. Dr. Freeman's lecture will take place at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, 2007 in Hall B of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Alexander Varshavsky, Ph.D., Howard and Gwen Laurie Smits Professor of Cell Biology at the California Institute of Technology, is the recipient of the third Annual AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship. He is awarded this year's lectureship for his discovery of biological regulation by intracellular protein degradation and its central role in cell function and activity. His fundamental research, conducted in the 1980s, has revealed the biological significance and specific functions of the ubiquitin system, including its roles in the cell cycle, DNA repair, transcription, protein synthesis, and stress responses. This seminal advance, made through a set of interconnected discoveries, has spawned a central theme of modern biomedical science and led to a fundamental understanding of cancer. Named in honor of the late Irving Weinstein, AACR and the Irving Weinstein Foundation created the distinguished lectureship in 2005 to recognize the accomplishments of an individual whose innovations in science and position as a thought leader have inspired creativity and new directions in cancer research. Varshavsky will present his lecture titled, “The Ubiquitin System and the N-End Rule Pathway,” at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, April 16, 2007 in Hall A of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Michael B. Kastan, M.D., Ph.D., Cancer Center Director, St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn., will receive the 47th Annual AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award for his leadership in ground-breaking studies of cellular responses to DNA damage. The AACR and Eli Lilly and Company established this award in 1961 to honor Dr. G.H.A. Clowes, a founding member of the AACR and a research director at Eli Lilly. The oldest award given by AACR, this honor recognizes an individual with outstanding recent accomplishments in basic cancer research. Dr. Kastan's lecture, “DNA damage responses: mechanisms and implications for human disease,” will take place at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 17, in Hall A of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Daniel A. Haber, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, and Laurel Schwartz Professor of Oncology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., will be awarded with the 31st Annual AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award. Designed to provide incentive to young investigators relatively early in their careers, the award was established in 1977 by AACR and the Rosenthal Foundation to recognize research that has made, or promises to make, a notable contribution to improved clinical care in the field of cancer. Dr. Haber, who is honored for his contributions to the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer and applying these insights to the use of targeted therapies for cancer, will give his lecture “Targeting Genetic Lesions in Cancer: Lessons from EGFR and MET,” at noon on Tuesday, April 17, in Hall A of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Thomas W. Kensler, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD., will receive the 16th Annual AACR-American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. Established in 1992, the award recognizes outstanding research accomplishments in the fields of cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention. Honored for developing translational strategies using a variety of chemopreventative compounds for targeting reduction of liver cancer in the economically developing world, Kensler will present his lecture on “Translating molecular targets for chemoprevention into interventions for at-risk populations” at 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, in Hall A of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Kenneth C. Anderson, M.D., Kraft Family Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Chief, Division of Hematologic Neoplasia, Director, Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center and Vice Chair of the Program in Transfusion Medicine, Department of Medical Oncology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Mass., will be honored for his contributions to translational and clinical advances in multiple myeloma. Dr. Anderson will receive the 12th Annual AACR-Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievements in Clinical Research and present his lecture, “Oncogenomics to target the tumor cell in its microenvironment,” at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, in Hall A of the Los Angeles Convention Center. The award was established in 1996 to recognize outstanding achievements in clinical cancer research and honors the late Dr. Joseph Burchenal, Honorary Member and Past President of the AACR, and a major figure in clinical cancer research.

Kornelia Polyak, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., will receive the 27th Annual AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research, in recognition of her innovative contributions to understanding molecular alterations in breast cancer. The AACR established this award in 1979 to recognize a young investigator for meritorious achievements in cancer research. Dr. Polyak's lecture, “Breast tumor progression: the role of stem cells and the microenvironment,” will take place at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 18, in Hall A of the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes more than 24,000 basic, translational, and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 70 other countries. AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment, and patient care. AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Its most recent publication, CR, is a magazine for cancer survivors, patient advocates, their families, physicians, and scientists. It provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship, and advocacy.


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