American Association for Cancer Research

Message from the WICR Council Chair 2013-2014

Wen-Jen HwuDear WICR members,

The dawning of the new year is the season of both reflection and anticipation. Looking back at 2013, we see a year that was quite productive for Women in Cancer Research, which augurs well for the new year.
 
First, I am delighted to report that our membership rolls continue to grow at an impressive rate. We now number more than 13,000 members, including 5,454 active members. Our community is becoming larger and stronger by the day. I believe this is a direct reflection of the important role that WICR is playing in the field of cancer research.

Second, I am also happy to disclose that at the 2013 AACR Annual Meeting, AACR-WICR Scholar Awards were presented to a total of 30 outstanding scientists-in-training and presenters of meritorious scientific papers. With respect to the upcoming 2014 AACR Annual Meeting, once again, 30 scholars will be selected to receive financial support to offset costs incurred while attending the meeting. The scholar awards are presented on the basis of candidates’ qualifications, references from their mentors, and an estimate of the meeting’s potential professional benefit to the awardees. I am so grateful for the wonderful work that continues to be done by the members of our Scholar Awards Committee, which is co-chaired by our dedicated WICR Council members Dr. Patricia LoRusso and Dr. Lillian Siu.

Third, we’ve observed that the WICR Career Mentoring Session has become one of the most highly attended Professional Advancement Sessions at the AACR Annual Meeting. This session offers graduate students, medical students and residents, and clinical and postdoctoral fellows a golden opportunity to meet, network, and learn from the experience and expertise of leading senior scientists in cancer research. I am thrilled to announce that Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., has agreed to chair the WICR Career Mentoring Session at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014. A pioneer in breast cancer research, Dr. Bernstein is a professor and director of the Division of Cancer Etiology in the Department of Population Sciences, Beckman Research Institute at City of Hope, Duarte, Calif. Dr. Bernstein also serves as dean for faculty affairs at City of Hope.

In response to increasing demand, WICR held additional career mentoring sessions at two 2013 AACR Special Conferences: Frontiers in Basic Cancer Research (Sept. 19) and AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics (Oct. 20). In both cases, the designated meeting rooms were at capacity with attendees.

Fourth, we’ve noticed that the WICR Professional Advancement Session at the AACR Annual Meeting is tremendously popular among attendees. This career development event provides a forum for cancer researchers to acquire the techniques to enhance their careers. Participants are guided by role models in the field through exercises which enable them to learn key skills. The topic of the popular 2013 session was “Building Presence and Leadership Through Empowered Communication.” At the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, this session will be co-chaired by the estimable Victoria M. Richon, Ph.D., vice president of biological sciences at Epizyme Inc., and Mary J.C. Hendrix, Ph.D., president and scientific director, Children’s Research Fund Professor, and William G. Swartchild Jr. Distinguished Research Professor for Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Research Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. The topic will be “Interview Skills for Career Success.”

Fifth, we are proud of the high caliber of those we recognize through the AACR-WICR Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship, which was established in 1998 in honor of the renowned virologist for her pioneering research on viruses, cell differentiation and cancer. The Friend lecture brings attention to an outstanding female or male scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and whose example has furthered the advancement of women in science. Guillermina “Gigi” Lozano, Ph.D., chair and professor of the Department of Genetics at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was the 2013 recipient of this prestigious award and gave the lecture, “Activities of Mutant p53 Proteins in Cancer” at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013. With Thea Tlsty, Ph.D., chairing the 2014 Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship Award Committee, we are eagerly anticipating another inspiring and instructive lecture at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014. Dr. Tlsty is professor in the Department of Pathology and director of the Center for Translational Research in the Molecular Genetics of Cancer at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and director for the Program in Cell Cycling and Signaling of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

As you know, for many years, the AACR has supported a considerable amount of the cutting-edge cancer research that has contributed to extraordinary progress in the field. These remarkable advances are contributing to increases in the numbers of people who are surviving longer and living life to the fullest after their cancer diagnosis. However, we still have much work to do. It is projected that 580,350 Americans will die from one of the more than 200 types of cancer in 2013.  The search for a cure is far from over. We also need to ensure that all of the emerging talent in cancer research, particularly among women, receives sufficient support to reach their full potential and take cancer research to the next level. 

That is why in 2014, we will focus on deepening WICR active member engagement and increasing the mentoring and advancement of WICR associate members. We will continue to work toward the full participation of women in cancer research by recognizing their scientific achievements and fostering their career development and advancement in the field. In that regard, we welcome your suggestions for specific ways in which we can continue to improve WICR programs to optimally meet your needs.

Thank you so much for your ongoing participation, your enthusiasm, your steadfast persistence, and all that you have done to help us achieve our goals, concomitant with yours, in 2013. Together, we can make 2014 our best year ever. 

Sincerely,

Wen-Jen Hwu, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Melanoma Medical Oncology
UT MD Anderson Cancer Center
Chair, 2013-2014 WICR Council