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Thoracic Oncologist Honored with Lectureship Award

Audrey Sternberg
Published Online:2:16 PM, Wed September 5, 2018

Vassiliki A. Papadimitrakopoulou, MD

Leading lung cancer researcher and clinician, Vassiliki A. Papadimitrakopoulou, MD, is the recipient of the 2018 Addario Lectureship Award presented by The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) for her groundbreaking clinical research in immunotherapy.

Papadimitrakopoulou is a professor and investigator at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she serves as the section chief of Thoracic Medical Oncology in the department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology and is the Jay and Lori Eisenberg Distinguished Professor of Medicine.

After completing her medical degree at the University of Patras School of Medicine and a clinical internship at the Metaxas Cancer Hospital, both in Greece, Papadimitrakopoulou pursued a clinical residency at the Institut Gustave Roussy in Villejuif, France. A residency in internal medicine brought her to New York City and the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center before she finally completed her fellowship in medical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Notable recent endeavors from Papadimitrakopoulou include her role as a co-principal investigator the Master Lung Protocol (Lung-MAP), the first ever comprehensive genomics-driven umbrella approach to squamous cell lung cancer which uses multidrug, targeted screening to match patients with substudies of investigational treatments for specific mutations rather than tumor type.

“Dr Papadimitrakopoulou’s leadership in the Lung-MAP clinical trial has led to new and effective treatment options, helping people with squamous cell lung cancer live longer,” said Bonnie J. Addario, founder of the ALCF. “She is an amazing researcher and clinician, and her work has been instrumental in offering patients personalized treatments with precision medicines that target genetic changes in each patient’s cancer.”

The foundation is one of the largest patient-focused philanthropies devoted to research, detection and treatment of lung cancer with the goal of turning the malignancy into a chronically managed disease by the year 2023. Since its inception in March 2006, the foundation has raised $30 million for research and related programs.

Numerous immunotherapy clinical trials with Papadimitrakopoulou as lead investigator are underway to examine therapies targeting the KRAS mutation in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. She is the co-principal investigator of an R01 Research Project Grant for targeting the mutation.

“We have seen great evolution in the quality of therapies and the outcomes that we have for patients” said Papadimitrakopoulou about advances in EGFR targeted therapy in an interview. “We still have alterations, such as KRAS, that we haven’t been successful in targeting. We will continue to target this alteration in clinical trials, to try and find mechanisms that make this tumor so invulnerable to our therapies.”

Papadimitrakopoulou has authored numerous pieces published across journals including Journal of Clinical Oncology and New England Journal of Medicine. She also serves as a member of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) Publications Committee that oversees operations for the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO) and other print and media sources. 

In the past, the American Society of Clinical Oncology has honored Papadimitrakopoulou with a Young Investigator and Career Development Award in 1998 and 2000, respectively.

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