AACR to Recognize Significant Contributions to Cancer Research

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will recognize several individuals for their contributions to cancer research during its annual meeting, to be held April 1 to 5 in Washington, DC.

Mina J. Bissel, PhD

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will recognize several individuals for their contributions to cancer research during its annual meeting, to be held April 1 to 5 in Washington, DC.

Mina J. Bissel, PhD, will be honored with the 14th AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research.

The award honors an individual who has made significant contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or body of work. These contributions, whether they have been in research, leadership, or mentorship, must have had a lasting impact on the cancer field and must have demonstrated a lifetime of commitment to progress against cancer, according to a release from AACR.

Bissel, a scientist in the Biological Systems and Engineering Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will be recognized for her pioneering work in identifying the role of the extracellular matrix and 3-dimmensional architecture in programs of gene expression in tissue morphogenesis and cancer.

Her research on the biological causes of breast cancer sparked an increasing number of discoveries associated with the way that neighboring cells of a tumor influence the growth and spread of tumor cells. She is widely acknowledged for launching the tumor microenvironment field.

“Bissell is a distinguished scientist whose groundbreaking discoveries have led to paradigm shifts in cell biology and transformed our understanding of tumor biology,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), the chief executive officer of AACR. “She is celebrated by her colleagues as one of the most creative and original scientists in the field, and we are delighted to recognize her remarkable contributions with this special award.”

On Saturday, April 1, Bissel will present a lecture in a Meet-the-Expert Session during the 2017 AACR Annual Meeting. She will be presented with her award during the opening ceremony on Sunday, April 2.

Leonard I. Zon, MD, will be honored with the 13th AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship.

Leonard I. Zon, MD

The lectureship award was established to acknowledge an individual whose outstanding personal innovation in science and whose position as a thought leader in fields relevant to cancer research has the potential to inspire creative thinking and new directions in cancer research.

Zon, the Grousbeck professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and director of the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, is being recognized for his scientific contributions that established zebrafish as an effective animal model system for studying hematopoiesis and blood-related cancers, as well as for his efforts associated with understanding fundamental stem cell biology—most notably with regard to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and migration—according to the release. He also co-founded the International Society of Stem Cell Research.

“Zon is a world-renowned physician-scientist whose exceptional body of work has revolutionized cell biology,” Foti said. “His pioneering research established the zebrafish as a model organism for studying hematopoietic development and disease, including many types of cancer. This created the foundation for countless studies dedicated to understanding the complexities of cancer initiation and progression, and the AACR is proud to honor Zon’s extraordinary accomplishments with this prestigious award.”

Zon will also be recognized during the opening ceremony on April 2, and his lecture, entitled “Changing Cell Fate for the Treatment of Cancer,” will be delivered later that same day.

Roger S. Lo, MD, PhD, will be honored with the first AACR-Waun Ki Hong Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research.

Roger S. Lo, MD, PhD

This inaugural award was established in recognition of former AACR President Waun Ki Hong, MD, and his contributions to cancer research, care, and prevention during his career, and to recognize the outstanding research from a young investigator below the age of 46.

Lo, professor in the Division of Dermatology and associate professor in the Department of Molecular and Medicinal Pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, is being recognized for his research toward identifying the molecular underpinnings of metastatic melanoma and its response to therapy.

His work provided the major scientific rationale for testing the effectiveness of inhibitors of BRAF and MEK in combination as a treatment for patients with melanoma—a therapeutic approach that is now globally considered the standard of care, according to the release.

Lo will also be recognized during the opening ceremony on April 2, and he will present his lecture, “Therapeutic Resistance in Melanoma” the following day.

Carlo M. Croce, MD, will be recognized with the 11th Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research.

According to the release, the award recognizes a true champion of cancer research whose leadership and achievements in cancer research have had a major impact on the field. Croce’s work has established genetic links to a variety of cancers, including Burkitt lymphoma, T-cell lymphoma, and acute leukemia.

Carlo M. Croce, MD

Croce, director of the Institute of Genetics, and director of the human cancer genetics program at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, and professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology, and Medical Genetics at the Ohio State University School of Medicine in Columbus, was the first investigator to discover and sequence BCL2. He later defined a role for this protein in various lymphomas, including follicular lymphoma.

The discoveries Croce has made have proven that chromosomal abnormalities, such as translocations, can contribute the initiation and progression of cancer. His recent work has focused on understanding the role of microRNAs in cancer pathogenesis.

“Croce is a highly esteemed basic and translational cancer researcher whose paradigm-shifting work has provided the basis for intensive scientific investigations throughout the international scientific community,” Foti said. “He has also provided extraordinary scientific leadership in the national and international scene, including research administration and mentorship of many talented young investigators, and he is greatly deserving of this award.”

Croce will also be recognized during the opening ceremony on April 2.