publication date: Jun. 1, 2018


Awards to be presented at ASCO annual meeting

The American Society of Clinical Oncology and ASCO’s Conquer Cancer Foundation announced the winners of ASCO’s Special Awards, the Society’s highest honors, and Conquer Cancer’s Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Awards.

The 2018 Special Awards Recipients are:

Ralph Weichselbaum—David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture

Weichselbaum is professor and chairman of the department of radiation and cellular oncology and co-director of the Ludwig Center for Metastasis Research at the University of Chicago.

Weichselbaum made discoveries in basic mechanisms of signal transduction and gene expression following radiation exposure that led to translational investigations of radio-inducible gene therapy and the integration of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Weichselbaum and Samuel Hellman proposed the spectrum theory of metastasis, predicting that some patients will develop only limited metastatic disease, termed “oligometastasis.” This concept resulted in the administration of curative regional therapy to those patients with oligometastatic disease.

Weichselbaum and colleagues are currently investigating the relationship between radiotherapy and immunotherapy, a logical extension of investigations into local and systemic effects of radiation.

Gabriel Hortobagyi—Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture

Hortobagyi is professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Hortobagyi has developed important clinical trial concepts, identified patient populations on which to test such concepts, and designed innovative translational medicine concepts within each clinical trial.

For the past several years, Hortobagyi has focused his research on the clinical development of CDK4/6 inhibitors. He developed, implemented, and chaired the MONALEESA-2 phase III trial, assessing the efficacy and safety of ribociclib in combination with letrozole in patients with hormone receptor-positive metastatic breast cancer.

He also worked with palbociclib and is initiating two phase III trials of ribociclib in the adjuvant setting. Hortobagyi is a past member of the ASCO board of directors and served as president of ASCO from 2006 to 2007.

Douglas Lowy—Science of Oncology Award and Lecture

Lowy is the NCI deputy director. As chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology in the Center for Cancer Research at the NCI, Lowy’s research includes the biology of papilloma viruses and the regulation of normal and neoplastic cell growth.

His laboratory, in close collaboration with John Schiller was involved in the initial development, characterization, and clinical testing of preventive virus-like particle-based HPV vaccines that are now used in the three FDA-approved HPV vaccines.

Along with Schiller, Lowy received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama in 2014, and the 2017 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award. Lowy is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as the National Academy of Medicine.

Karen Lu—ASCO-American Cancer Society Award and Lecture

Lu is senior vice president and chief medical officer ad interim, at MD Anderson Cancer Center. She is professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine and holds the J. Taylor Wharton Distinguished Chair in Gynecologic Oncology.

Lu’s main clinical interests include treating women with ovarian and endometrial cancers, as well as managing women at high-risk for these diseases. She is a national leader in the cancer genetics field and has published seminal articles on hereditary gynecologic cancers.

She serves as principal investigator of the NCI-sponsored Uterine Cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence and currently receives support for her research from the NCI and Stand Up to Cancer. She is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. She serves on the ASCO Cancer Prevention Committee and is currently the past chair. In addition, she takes pride in having mentored many clinical fellows and trainees and has been awarded an MD Anderson Outstanding Educator Award.

Nancy Davidson—Allen S. Lichter Visionary Leader Award and Lecture

Davidson is a breast cancer researcher who serves as senior vice president and director of the clinical research division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, president and executive director of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and head of the division of oncology at the University of Washington.

As a physician-scientist Davidson has published key findings on the role of hormone response and epigenetics in breast cancer and helped to guide several important national clinical trials of new therapies for breast cancer.

A member of the National Academy of Medicine, Davidson has served in several leadership positions, including 2007-2008 President of ASCO, 2015-2016 president of the American Association for Cancer Research, and director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute from 2009 to 2016.

Gregory Reaman—Pediatric Oncology Award and Lecture

Reaman is known for his extensive work in the biology and treatment of childhood acute leukemia and new drug development for pediatric cancers. Reaman is the associate director for oncology sciences in the office of hematology and oncology products in the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, as well as the associate director for Pediatric Oncology in the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence.

He is a professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Reaman has been a long-standing member of the division of hematology-oncology at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, which he directed for more than 17 years prior to becoming the first chair of the Children’s Oncology Group, and is executive director emeritus of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Reaman has recently served on a number of NCI ad hoc review committees of the NCTN, NCORP and the ETNCTN. At the FDA Reaman has consistently sought to maximally use the regulatory authority provided by the Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act to expedite evaluation of promising new drugs for children and has participated in the review of recently approved products for neuroblastoma and relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Supriya Gupta Mohile—B.J. Kennedy Award and Lecture for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology

Mohile is a professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. A board-certified geriatrician and medical oncologist with clinical expertise in gastrointestinal and genitourinary cancers, Mohile’s research interests include the evaluation of patterns of care, health outcomes, and quality of life related to cancer treatment in older patients.

In 2013, she was awarded a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute Award and an NCI R01 to evaluate whether geriatric assessment can improve outcomes of older patients with cancer.

She directs the Specialized Oncology Care & Research in the Elderly geriatric oncology clinic at the University of Rochester/Highland Hospital and is an integral member of the University of Rochester NCI Community Oncology Research Program Research Base which is directed by Gary Morrow. She currently is on the editorial board of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is editor in chief of the Journal of Geriatric Oncology, and she previously served as Chair of the ASCO Geriatric Oncology Course Planning Committee.

John Mendelsohn—Distinguished Achievement Award

John Mendelsohn is the L.E. & Virginia Simmons Senior Fellow in the Division of Health and Technology Policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute, as well as director of the Zayed Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and professor of genomic medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Center.

He has devoted his professional career to oncology as a clinician, an investigator, and a leader, serving as President of MD Anderson from 1996 to 2011. His research in the laboratory and in the clinic, including the development of the targeted therapy cetuximab, led to the development of an entirely new class of agents that have transformed cancer treatment by targeting tumors based on their genetic and molecular aberrations.

Gregory Kalemkerian—Excellence in Teaching Award

Kalemkerian is professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology, associate division chief for faculty development and education, associate director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program, and disease group lead for the Upper Aerodigestive Cancer Team in the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Kalemkerian has devoted a significant amount of his professional career to training future medical oncologists include all four of his current partners in Thoracic Oncology at the University of Michigan. Clinically, he cares for people with lung cancer, thymoma, and mesothelioma, and his academic research interest is in clinical and translational trials for thoracic cancers.

An active ASCO member, Kalemkerian has served as Chair of the Test Materials Development Committee, Track Leader on the Scientific Program Committee, and member of the JCO Editorial Board and Conquer Cancer Grants Selection Committee.

Danielle Leach—Partners in Progress Award

Leach is the senior director of advocacy and government relations of St. Baldrick’s Foundation, an organization committed to funding promising research to find cures for childhood cancers and give survivors long, healthy lives.

Leach brought to St. Baldrick’s over 20 years of experience in the health nonprofit industry. She has worked in leadership positions at the American Cancer Society, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance and Strang Cancer Prevention Center in cancer control program development and implementation.

Leach founded the Mason Leach Superstar Fund at Children’s National Medical Center and the American Childhood Cancer Organization in memory of her son Mason, who died of pediatric brain cancer in 2007.

Leach currently serves as the co-chair of the Alliance for Childhood Cancer, a national coalition of patient advocacy groups and professional organizations working collaboratively to advance childhood cancer research, treatment, and policies.

She is a pending appointment to the NCI Council of Research Advocates, as well as a member of the NCI Pediatric and Adolescent Solid Tumor Steering Committee. She also served Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot as part of the Pediatric Cancer Working Group.

Gideon Blumenthal—Public Service Award

Blumenthal is acting deputy office director of the office of hematology and oncology products and the associate director for precision oncology in the FDA Oncology Center of Excellence.

Blumenthal previously worked as a medical officer and clinical team leader in thoracic oncology and head and neck cancer, where he led a team of oncologists during an unprecedented time for new drug and biologics approvals of treatments for lung cancer.

He has been instrumental in coordinating the efficient review and subsequent approval of several breakthrough targeted therapies and immunotherapies for cancer patients and has led several key policy initiatives to advance the fields of precision oncology and targeted drug development, including initiatives on co-development of drugs with companion diagnostics, the use of novel endpoints and real-world evidence, and the development of liquid biopsy technologies.

Julie Gralow—Humanitarian Award

Gralow is the Jill Bennett Endowed Professor of Breast Medical Oncology and professor of global health at the University of Washington School of Medicine, a member of the clinical research division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and director of breast medical oncology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

Gralow is medical director and team physician for Team Survivor Northwest, a non-profit focused on helping female cancer survivors improve their health through exercise; founder of the Women’s Empowerment Cancer Advocacy Network, a group dedicated to empowering patient advocates in low- and middle-income countries; and she co-chair of the Breast Cancer Initiative 2.5, a global campaign to reduce disparities in breast cancer care.

Lori Pierce—Hologic Inc.  Endowed Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award

Lori Pierce is a tenured professor of radiation oncology and vice provost for academic and faculty affairs at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.

Her research focuses on the use of radiotherapy in the multi-modality treatment of breast cancer with emphasis on cardiac-sparing in treatment planning, pre-clinical and clinical studies of radiation sensitizers with RT, and outcomes following radiation in women with breast cancer who carry a BRCA1/2 susceptibility gene.

Pierce was an ASCO Board of Directors member from 2010 to 2014. She is currently chair of the Conquer Cancer Foundation Nominating Committee and past chair of the ASCO Leadership Development Program.

Rejin Kebudi—International Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award

Kebudi is a professor in pediatric hematology-oncology at the Istanbul University, Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine and the Istanbul University, Oncology Institute. She served on the board of the Istanbul University, Oncology Institute and as the director of the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Division.

She is a past president of the Turkish Pediatric Oncology Group and current chair of the International Society of Pediatric Oncology Supportive Care Working Group. She has been actively involved in the scientific activities of the Middle East Cancer Consortium. Kebudi has successfully mentored residents, fellows, and junior faculty over the last 25 years and has ensured that they make progress in their career.

Fellows of the American Society of Clinical Oncology:

The Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology distinction recognizes ASCO members for their extraordinary volunteer service, dedication, and commitment to ASCO. Their efforts benefit ASCO, the specialty of oncology, and, most importantly, the patients at risk for or with cancer. The 2018 recipients of this distinction are:

  • Clement Adebayo Adebamow

  • David Adelstein

  • Alex Adjei

  • Jaffer Ajani

  • Kenneth Carl Anderson

  • Christopher Azzoli

  • Jordan Berlin

  • Smita Bhatia

  • J. Sybil Biermann

  • Michael Russell Bishop

  • A. William Blackstock

  • Paul Celano

  • Walter John Curran

  • Don Dizon

  • Nagi El Saghir

  • Laura Esserman

  • Christopher Flowers

  • Giuseppe Giaccone

  • Jill Gilbert

  • Susan Halabi

  • Lyndsay Harris

  • James Hayman

  • Carolyn Hendricks

  • Martee Leigh Hensley

  • Roy Herbst

  • Sharon Hermes Giordano

  • Paul Joseph Hesketh

  • Paulo Marcelo Hoff

  • James Ingle

  • Sundar Jagannath

  • Mohammad Jahanzeb

  • Hagop Kantarjian

  • Beth Karlan

  • James Khatcheressian

  • Alok Khorana

  • Hedy Kindler

  • Andrew Ko

  • Natasha Leighl

  • Andrew Loblaw

  • Jennifer Malin

  • Bruce Minsky

  • Beverly Moy

  • Craig Nichols

  • Kenneth Offit

  • Mark Pascal

  • Jyoti Patel

  • Blase Polite

  • Thomas Roberts

  • Howard Sche

  • Gary Schwartz

  • Manish Shah

  • Lawrence Shulman

  • Mary Lou Smith

  • Philip Stella

  • James Stewart

  • John Sweetenham

  • Michael Thompson

  • Anthony Tolcher

  • Timothy Joseph Whelan

  • Jedd Wolchok

  • Marie Wood

  • Antoinette Wozniak

ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation gives out $7.3 million in grants

The Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology has announced the recipients of this year’s Advanced Clinical Research Award, Career Development Awards, Young Investigator Awards, Global Oncology Young Investigator Awards, and Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Research Fellowship.

These awards support young researchers with projects spanning all aspects of cancer care, including immunotherapy, carcinoma, lung cancer, and palliative care.

The Advanced Clinical Research Award in Breast Cancer—Mariana Chavez MacGregor

The award funds original breast cancer research in an area that is currently not funded. The 2018 Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO/Breast Cancer Research Foundation MacGregor, of MD Anderson Cancer Center, will receive $450,000 over the next three years to further her research project, “Understanding barriers and decreasing the time to chemotherapy in a vulnerable population: Pilot study of a targeted intervention.”

This a three-year grant that funds clinical investigators who have received their initial faculty appointment and are working to establish an independent, patient-focused, clinical cancer research program.

This year, Conquer Cancer will award 15 Career Development Awards. The list of winners can be found here.

The Young Investigator Award is a grant supporting early-career researchers to begin and establish the direction of their research. The award supports pre-clinical and clinical cancer research projects by oncologists who are undergoing a career transition from a fellowship program to a faculty appointment.

Seventy-two investigators will receive YIAs this year. The full list of Young Investigator Award winners can be found here.

This year, Conquer Cancer acknowledges four new endowed YIAs, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Thomas Roberts, Jr., and Susan DaSilva; and the Generous Supporters of the Women Who Conquer Cancer. The Boehringer Ingelheim Endowed Young Investigator Award in Gastrointestinal Cancers mirrors Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH’s investment in challenging but impactful areas of cancer research.

The inaugural award is granted to Ankur Nagaraja of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to identify new therapies for gastroesophageal cancer.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb’s award, which was established to support research by young female investigators, will go to Rachael Rowswell-Turner of University of Rochester Medical Center to study a novel immunotherapy target in ovarian cancer.

The inaugural Endowed Young Investigator Award in honor of Grant and Victoria Merryman is granted to Adam Waxman of the University of Pennsylvania to study comparative cardiac toxicities of novel therapies for multiple myeloma.

The Generous Supporters of the Women Who Conquer Cancer have endowed a YIA to support young female investigators’ research for years to come. The inaugural recipient of the Endowed Women Who Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Award is Jessica Yang of New York-Presbyterian and Columbia University Medical Center to study a novel approach to treating metastatic uveal melanoma.

For the first time, Conquer Cancer is awarding the Global Oncology Young Investigator Award to support early-career researchers with projects focused on addressing global health needs when it comes to cancer. In its inaugural year, seven researchers will be awarded with Global Oncology YIAs.

The list of Global Oncology Young Investigator Award winners can be found here.

The Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Research Fellowship, which provides funding to an early-career investigator for their unique work in breast cancer research. The recipient of this year’s fellowship is Clinton Yam of MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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