AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lecture Recipients

This award recognizes outstanding science that has the potential to inspire creative thinking and new directions in cancer research. This lectureship is selected by the AACR president, and is not open to nomination.

13th Annual Award Recipient
Leonard I. Zon, MD
Grousbeck Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Director, Stem Cell Program
Boston Children's Hospital
Boston, Massachusetts

Dr. Zon delivered his award lecture titled "Changing Cell Fate for the Treatment of Cancer" at the AACR Annual Meeting 2017 in Washington, D.C. The award presentation and lecture were held Sunday, April 2, 2017, at the Washington Convention Center.

The AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship was established in 2004, to honor an individual whose outstanding innovations in science and whose position as a thought leader have the potential to inspire creative thinking and new directions in cancer research.

Leonard I.  Zon, MD is honored for scientific contributions which established zebrafish as an effective animal model system by which to study hematopoiesis and blood-related cancers and for his efforts associated with understanding fundamental stem cell biology, most notably with regards to hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and migration. His amazing body of work has revolutionized cell biology and has created the foundation for countless studies dedicated to understanding the complexities of cancer initiation and progression.

Dr. Zon is the founder and director of the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and the first incumbent of the newly established Grousbeck professor of pediatrics chair at Children’s. An internationally renowned pediatrician and researcher specializing in blood diseases, Dr. Zon is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, an American Academy of Arts and Science fellow, founder and past president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and chair of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s Executive Committee. In October, 2005, Dr. Zon was elected to membership in the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health.

Dr. Zon graduated from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and received his medical degree from what is now known as the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Jefferson University, in Philadelphia. He completed an internal medicine residency at what is now known as Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a fellowship in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston.

Dr. Zon has received numerous honors and accolades in his illustrious career. He received the Knudson Award in Cancer Genetics from the National Cancer Institute (2016), the inaugural ISSCR Tobias Award Lecture (2016), the Donald Metcalf Lecture from the International Society for Experimental Hematology (2013), and the E. Donnall Thomas Prize from the American Society of Hematology (2010). He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American College of Physicians, and a member of the National Academy of Medicine.

Award Recipients

  • 2017: Leonard I. Zon, MD
  • 2016: Robert S. Langer
  • 2015: David Baltimore
  • 2014: David Botstein
  • 2013: Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard
  • 2012: Bert Vogelstein
  • 2011: Helen M. Blau
  • 2010: Robert Tjian
  • 2009: James R. Heath
  • 2008: Sydney Brenner 
  • 2007: Alexander Varshavsky
  • 2006: Phillip A. Sharp
  • 2005: Leroy E. Hood


Prior to 2005, this award was known as the AACR Distinguished Lecture.

  • 2004: Leland H. Hartwell
  • 2003: James E. Darnell