publication date: Apr. 24, 2020

In Brief

ASCO announces 2020 awards

Researchers, patient advocates, and global oncology leaders who have worked to transform cancer care around the world are among the recipients of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Special Awards—the society’s highest honors—and Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Awards.

“It is an honor to recognize the inspiring achievements of this year’s awardees, and their dedication to conquering cancer,” Monica Bertagnolli, immediate past president of ASCO and chair of the Special Awards Selection Committee, said in a statement.

The 2020 Special Award Recipients are posted here:

David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture

George D. Demetri, MD, FASCO, is senior vice president for experimental therapeutics and Director of the Sarcoma Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and co-director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard. Dr. Demetri has dedicated his career to translational research aimed at understanding and treating precisely defined subsets of cancers, and he was a pioneer in the development of the imatinib as the first cancer therapy targeting gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) as a molecularly defined subset of sarcoma.

Science of Oncology Award and Lecture

Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD, MMSc, is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-scientific director of the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology, and a member of the Executive Committee for Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Jänne was one of the co-discoverers of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations and he has led the development of therapeutic strategies for patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer.

Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture

George W. Sledge Jr., MD, FASCO, is a professor and chief of the Division of Oncology at Stanford University Medical Center. Dr. Sledge is an expert in the areas of antiangiogenic drug development and breast cancer murine models of growth and metastasis, as well as breast cancer genomics, and has devoted much of the past two decades in the clinic to the development of novel biologic agents for breast cancer.

ASCO-American Cancer Society Award and Lecture

Timothy Rebbeck, PhD, is the Vincent L. Gregory, Jr. Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is founding director of the Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and leads the Cancer Outreach and Engagement activities for the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center. His work has led to an understanding of the genetic and environmental causes of breast, prostate, skin, endometrial, and ovarian cancers, as well as interventions intended to reduce the burden of these cancers in individuals and populations.

Allen S. Lichter Visionary Leader Award and Lecture

Hyman B. Muss, MD, FASCO, is the Mary Jones Hudson Distinguished Professor of Geriatric Oncology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, and the director of the Geriatric Oncology Program at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center Program. He is an internationally recognized expert on the treatment of breast cancer in older patients, breast cancer survivorship, and long-term toxicity of treatment. He is exploring the role of biomarkers of aging and their potential role as predictors of toxicity and survival.

Distinguished Achievement Award

Robin Zon, MD, FACP, FASCO, is president of Michiana Hematology Oncology and serves on the Trinity Oncology Excellence Committee. Dr. Zon received ASCO’s Advocate of the Year Award for her health care advocacy efforts, and she has been called upon by the Institute of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, and the federal government to offer guidance and share her expertise. Dr. Zon meets with local and federal elected officials on a routine basis to promote cancer care policies.

Pediatric Oncology Award and Lecture

Alice L. Yu, MD, PhD, is the Distinguished Chair Professor and co-director of the Institute of Stem Cell & Translational Cancer Research at the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou and Chang Kung University, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the Genomics Research Center of Academia Sinica in Taiwan, and a professor in pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Yu has more than 40 years of experience in developing cures and understanding the biology of childhood cancer, is a pioneer of anti-GD2 therapy, and has either led or significantly contributed to numerous clinical trials to develop novel cancer therapeutics.

B.J. Kennedy Award and Lecture for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology

Andrew E. Chapman, DO, FACP, is a professor of medical oncology in the Department of Medical Oncology of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and a clinical professor in Jefferson’s College of Nursing. Dr. Chapman is the chief of cancer services for the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, the enterprise senior vice president of the Jefferson Health system for medical oncology, and vice chair for clinical operations for the Department of Medical Oncology. Dr. Chapman is the co-founder/co-director of the Jefferson Senior Adult Oncology Center, specializing in the multidisciplinary evaluation and treatment of older adults with cancer.

Excellence in Teaching Award

Anthony V. D’Amico, MD, PhD, is the Eleanor Theresa Walters Distinguished Chair, chief of Genitourinary Radiation Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, chair of the residency executive committee in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, and advisory dean and chair of career advising and mentorship at Harvard medical School. Dr. D’Amico is an internationally known expert in the treatment of prostate cancer and has defined combined modality staging.

Partners in Progress Award

Carlos Gil Moreira Ferreira, MD, PhD, is the chief scientific officer at Oncoclinicas, president of Oncoclinicas Institute, and chair of the Oncoclinicas Medical Board, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a lung cancer specialist and is active in oncology drug development, health policy, health economics, and health innovation.

Humanitarian Award

Gary W. Unzeitig, MD, FACS, is a breast surgeon and principal investigator practicing in the South Texas border community of Laredo since 1983. He is active staff at Doctors Hospital of Laredo. Dr. Unzeitig has been active in the Alliance for Clinical Trials, serving on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee, as co-chair of the Health Disparities Committee, and on the Community Oncology, Breast, Prevention, and Audit Committees.

Walther Cancer Foundation Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Endowed Award and Lecture

Betty R. Ferrell, PhD, MA, CHPN, FAAN, FPCN, is the director and professor of nursing research at City of Hope Medical Center and associate director of the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Ferrell’s background is in palliative care, quality of life, spirituality, and oncology research. She has successfully developed and disseminated local, national, and international programs related to systems change, quality of life, symptom management, and transitions to palliative care.

Hologic, Inc Endowed Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award

Dawn L. Hershman, MD, MS, FASCO, is a professor of medicine and epidemiology and leader of the Breast Cancer Program at Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Hershman is a nationally recognized expert in breast cancer treatment, prevention, and survivorship. Her research focuses on improving cancer care delivery, reducing disparities, and improving the quality of life and quality of care of breast cancer survivors.

International Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award

Lillian L. Siu, MD, FRCPC, FASCO, is a senior medical oncologist and clinician scientist in the Cancer Clinical Research Unit at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Canada. Dr. Siu’s primary research focus is in the area of new anticancer drug development, particularly phase I trials and head and neck malignancies.

Fellows of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO)

The Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO) distinction recognizes ASCO members for their extraordinary volunteer service, dedication, and commitment to ASCO. The following members are being recognized in 2020:

  • Peter Adamson, MD, FASCO

  • Banu Arun, MD, FASCO

  • Elizabeth Blanchard, MD, FASCO

  • Marcia Brose, MD, PhD, FASCO

  • David Carbone, MD PhD, FASCO

  • Ronald Chen, MD, MPH, FASCO

  • Anne Chiang, MD, PhD, FASCO

  • Linus Chuang, MD, FASCO

  • Kelly Cooke, DO, FASCO

  • Neelima Denduluri, MD, FASCO

  • Laurie Gaspar, MD, MBA, FASTRO, FASCO

  • Pamela Goodwin, MD, MSc, FRCPC, FASCO

  • Bruce Haffty, MD, FACR, FASTRO, FASCO

  • Michael Hassett, MD, MPH, FASCO

  • Ralph Hauke, MD, FACP, FASCO

  • Heather Hylton, MS, FASCO

  • Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil, FASCO

  • Jeffrey Kirshner, MD, FASCO

  • Stuart Lichtman, MD, FACP, FASCO

  • Jennifer Ligibel, MD, FASCO

  • Merry Jennifer Markham, MD, FACP, FASCO

  • Howard McLeod, PharmD, FASCO

  • Kathy Miller, MD, FASCO

  • Anne Moore, MD, FASCO

  • Kevin Oeffinger, MD, FASCO

  • Nathan Pennell, MD, PhD, FASCO

  • Todd Pickard, MMSc, PA-C, DFAAPA, FASCO

  • Brian Rini, MD, FASCO

  • Mark Robson, MD, FASCO

  • Gabrielle Rocque, MD, FASCO

  • Robert Siegel, MD, FASCO

  • David Spigel, MD, FASCO

  • Vered Stearns, MD, FASCO

  • Keith Thompson, MD, FASCO

  • Mary-Ellen Taplin, MD, FASCO

  • Jeremy Warner, MD, MS, FASCO


Serody and Basch named to leadership roles at UNC

Jonathan Serody was named chief of hematology and Ethan Basch was named chief of oncology at University of North Carolina School of Medicine Department of Medicine.

Melba Ribeiro will serve both divisions as associate chief for administration.

The appointments are part of a realignment of the Division of Hematology and Oncology that will form two divisions from one.

“The division of hematology and oncology has grown substantially under the leadership of Dr. Lisa Carey,” Ron Falk, chair of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine, said in a statement. “As Dr. Carey transitions to her new role as deputy director of clinical sciences at [UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center], we’ve determined that having two divisions, tightly linked, will help us more efficiently manage administration for these subspecialties and position them for future growth.”

The North Carolina Cancer Hospital is the clinical home for the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Serody, the Elizabeth Thomas Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, is the associate chief of malignant hematology, bone marrow transplant and cellular therapy and the director of UNC’s Bone Marrow Transplantation & Cellular Therapy Program. He also serves as the associate director for Translational Science at the UNC Lineberger.

Basch is the Richard M. Goldberg Distinguished Professor in Medical Oncology and is focused clinically on the treatment of prostate cancer. He leads a longstanding research program focused on cancer care delivery transformation and patient-centered care, and directs the Outcomes Research Program for UNC Lineberger.

His group established that integrating patient-reported outcome symptom monitoring into routine cancer care improves patients’ quality of life, reduces emergency department visits, and lengthens overall survival. Basch developed a system for patient adverse event reporting in clinical trials, the PRO-CTCAE, that is now a standard in oncology drug development.


Poynter, Harki appointed to leadership team at Masonic Cancer Center

Jenny Poynter and Daniel Harki were appointed to the leadership team of Masonic Cancer Center April 15.

Poynter was named Masonic Cancer Center’s first associate director for Community Outreach and Engagement. Poynter is an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research of the Medical School at the University of Minnesota. She also serves as the vice chair of the Children’s Oncology Group Epidemiology Committee and is a research member of the Masonic Cancer Center’s Screening, Prevention, Etiology, and Cancer Survivorship Program.

She will be joining Chris Pennell, the center’s associate director for Community Outreach and Education. That role will be divided into two associate director roles. Poynter is the associate director of Community Outreach, and Pennell will assume the position of associate director for Education.

Poynter is a molecular epidemiologist whose research is focused on genetic susceptibility and epigenetic alterations in pediatric germ cell tumors and myeloid malignancy.

Harki, an associate professor in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry within the College of Pharmacy at University of Minnesota, will become a co-leader of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota’s Cellular Mechanisms Program. He will join Carol Lange, professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology-Oncology and Transplantation within the Medical School.

Harki succeeds long time co-leader James McCarthy, professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology in the Medical School.

Harki has published widely on the development of novel small molecules, nucleosides and nucleic acids, and in particular, his program focuses significant efforts developing chemical probes for the APOBEC family of DNA cytosine deaminases.


American Heart Association grants $17 million for studies on health impact of e-cigarettes and nicotine on youth

The American Heart Association has awarded $17 million in scientific research to be led by scientists from Boston University, the Ohio State University and Yale University to study the health impacts of e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery systems on youth and young adults.

The studies are funded through a program called ENACT: End Nicotine Addiction in Children and Teens Research Initiative.

The research projects will be high-impact and fast tracked, only two years in length and funded at levels among the highest individual grants awarded in the association’s history. The initiative is designed to produce programs to support youth as well as provide clear evidence to inform policy decisions.

Research teams from Boston University, the Ohio State University and Yale University will work over the next two years to identify the biological impacts of vaping on multiple organ systems (heart, brain, lungs, vascular, etc.), behavioral factors and specific social influencers of health to reverse these trends.

The projects include:


Led by Naomi Hamburg, the Joseph A. Vita, MD Professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, this team will establish the Rapidly Advancing Discovery to Arrest the Outbreak of Youth Vaping Center and will include four intersecting projects at Boston University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University and the University of Louisville.

These projects include: basic research using human induced pluripotent stem cell samples to test the toxicity of the components of e-cigarettes; mobile health technology to measure the physiological cardiovascular impacts of e-cigarettes on youth in real-world settings and a virtual reality and text messaging delivered e-cigarette cessation program for youth developed by combining social media methods with focus groups.

VERIFY: A Comprehensive Approach to Understanding and Ending Youth E-cigarette Addiction

Led by Peter Mohler, the vice dean for research and director of the Davis Heart & Lung Research Institute at the Ohio State College of Medicine and Wexner Medical Center. This team comprised of investigators in the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Engineering and the Comprehensive Cancer Center will work to provide answers about the short- and long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, including their impact on the brain, lungs, and heart; the most effective regulations to reduce the appeal and addictiveness of e-cigarettes for youth; and the best methods to help youth addicted to e-cigarettes quit.

Team VERIFY: Vaping’s End through Research and Innovation For Youth will recruit youth for a year-long study to look at the relationship between nicotine form, concentration and flavorings on youth e-cig use, addiction, neurocognitive outcomes and pulmonary health compared to healthy peers.

They will also study the influence of nicotine form, concentration and flavor on youth puffing behavior, nicotine delivery, abuse liability, toxicant exposure and acute cardiovascular and pulmonary effects; and they will develop and test a multi-point, scalable vaping cessation program to include quit-line-delivered phone counseling, text-based cessation, nicotine replacement therapy and online cessation support.

Understanding and Treating E-cigarette Use Among Youth

Led by Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. This team will develop and test several youth-based programs and conduct clinical and behavioral research to learn more about the effect of youth e-cigarette use.

They plan to develop a high school-based intervention to educate youth about e-cigarettes, prevent initiation of vaping, promote quitting among those who already use e-cigarettes and change attitudes and perceptions toward e-cigarettes school-wide. They will also develop a cessation program that will use smartphone-based contingency management for nicotine abstinence in combination with individualized, cognitive behavioral therapy.

Further, they plan to develop and pilot a computerized cognitive behavioral therapy intervention for youth e-cigarette users. Finally, the team will develop a measure of e-cigarette withdrawal in youth and assess the relationship between withdrawal, dependence, treatment outcomes and e-cigarette characteristics such as flavors and devices.

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