Lydia Armstrong, Ph.D.
Dr. Armstrong has more than 15 years of experience in cancer biology and 12 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. She received her Ph.D. in cell biology from the University of Denver where her research was partially funded by the American Cancer Society for her work studying the role of non-kinetochore microtubules in cell division. Dr. Armstrong's graduate work in mitosis was the beginning of her interest in and dedication to cancer research. As a postdoctoral fellow at Glaxo Inc., Dr. Armstrong focused her research on integrin signaling pathways in vascular endothelial cells involved in the angiogenesis process. After two years at Glaxo, Dr. Armstrong decided to continue working in industry and accepted a position with the Schering-Plough Research Institute in New Jersey.
At Schering-Plough, Dr. Armstrong managed various projects in drug discovery from signal transduction inhibition to anti-angiogenesis. Her responsibilities within the Oncology Department increased from managing one lab group, one project, to participating and contributing to many projects. During the 10 years working in drug discovery, Dr. Armstrong was also an active member of the Oncology Licensing Committee responsible for preclinical evaluation of many of the new agents currently in clinical development. She worked closely with business development, marketing, and clinical development groups to evaluate the preclinical data for novel and exciting new agents. This experience led to a new career opportunity working with the Oncology Medical Affairs group at Aventis.
During the first three years with Aventis, Dr. Armstrong had three major roles/responsibilities: preclinical investigator initiated studies, correlative science for clinical studies, and scientific communications. Currently and for the past two years, Dr. Armstrong manages a team of five regional directors and 35 regional medical liaisons for the Oncology Medical Affairs Department of Sanofi-aventis. This is an extremely challenging position working with a staff of talented scientists and clinicians to support the research interests of key academic cancer researchers and to provide disease state/product education to the community clinicians. Dr. Armstrong's team is responsible for evaluating preclinical and clinical studies for consideration of funding by Sanofi-aventis that are strategic to Sanofi-aventis products and contribute to improving patient care and well-being.
Dr. Armstrong has been a member of the AACR for more than 10 years. She has actively contributed to many AACR leadership conferences with industry and has participated in various activities sponsored by the Minorities Affairs Committee. Dr. Armstrong has also served on the Education Committee for the past year.
Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D.
Dr. Bernstein is professor and director of the Division of Cancer Etiology within the Department of Population Sciences, Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope and serves as dean for faculty affairs at the City of Hope which encompasses the Beckman Research Institute and the City of Hope Medical Center. An internationally-recognized epidemiologist, she has focused her research primarily on breast cancer, seeking to identify modifiable lifestyle factors that will reduce breast cancer incidence and extend breast cancer survival. She has also developed a research program that investigates the long-term chronic disease sequelae of therapeutic regimens for breast cancer. Prior to her move to City of Hope in 2007, Dr. Bernstein was professor and holder of the AFLAC Inc., chair in cancer research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC). While at USC, she served for 20 years as the scientific director of the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance Program, one of the NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registries, was medical school senior associate dean for faculty affairs for eight years and the university’s vice provost of medical affairs for two years, and she chaired the medical school’s Admissions Committee for five years. At USC she was the recipient of the University’s Presidential Medallion and the Elaine Stevely Hoffman Achievement Award.
Dr. Bernstein leads the California Teachers Study, a prospective cohort of 133,479 female public school professionals formed in 1995 to study breast and other cancers. As the study’s principal investigator, she manages a broad collaboration of 22 investigators at four cancer centers and leads several research efforts in breast cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma within the cohort. She is an active participant in the HEAL Study collaboration, a multicenter, multiethnic study of breast cancer survivorship, now in its 12th year, and also has been following the long-term survivors (>25 year) from her early case-control study of breast cancer in women ages 40 or younger at diagnosis. With Susan Love, M.D., she has initiated a new cohort, the Health of Women Study, with data collection conducted over the Internet recruiting as participants, women who are members of the Love Army of Women. Dr. Bernstein currently has active studies or collaborations on asynchronous bilateral breast cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and esophageal adenocarcinoma etiology. She also has a K05 award from NCI, based on the California Teachers Study, which supports her extensive activities as a mentor for junior and intermediate level cancer research scientists at the City of Hope, USC, Claremont Graduate University, and elsewhere throughout the US.
In 2007, Dr. Bernstein received both the Brinker Awardee for Scientific Distinction in clinical breast cancer research by the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure and the American Association for Cancer Research-Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention. She has also received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Association for Preventive Oncology. In 2010 she received the Rosalind E. Franklin Award for Women in Science from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Abraham Lilienfeld Award from the American College of Epidemiology for her scientific and mentoring achievements in epidemiology. Among Dr. Bernstein’s many service activities, she has served on NCI’s Board of Scientific Counselors and as chair of advisory committees for numerous breast cancer research efforts, including the Long Island Breast Cancer Case-control Study. She currently chairs the external advisory committees for the Sister Study from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Nurses Health Studies at Harvard Medical School and the Mexican American Cohort at MD Anderson. She serves on several cancer center external advisory boards and is deputy editor for Breast Cancer Research. She has served in several capacities for AACR, chairing or serving on awards committees, program committees and nomination committees, primarily for activities in cancer prevention. Dr. Bernstein was recently selected by the City of Hope to be honored by having her portrait hung in the City of Hope’s Scientific Research Portrait Gallery; she is only the second woman (of 20 prior inductees over the long history of the City of Hope) to receive this honor.
Janet E. Dancey, M.D.
Dr. Janet Dancey, B.Sc., M.D., FRCPC is director, Clinical Translational Research NCIC Clinical Trials; program leader, High Impact Clinical Trials, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research; chair, Experimental Therapeutics Network, Cancer Care Ontario; and professor, Department of Oncology, Queen's University.
Among her duties are to coordinate translational research activities for the NCIC CTG and to foster and support translational research in clinical trials across the province of Ontario. Among her national and international activities are chair, Biomarker Task Force for the Investigational Drug Steering Committee, Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP), US National Cancer Institute (US-NCI) and member of the US-NCI Program for the Assessment of Clinical Cancer Tests. Prior to joining the NCIC CTG, Dr. Dancey was associate chief, Investigational Drug Branch, CTEP, US-NCI where she coordinated the development of over 200 phase I - III trials of experimental therapeutics, including trials of novel targeted agent combinations and biomarker studies. Dr. Dancey received her M.D. (Magna cum Laude) from the University of Ottawa and completed her residency training in internal medicine and medical oncology at the University of Toronto. In 1994-95, she was a research fellow with the NCIC CTG and continued her fellowship training at the Institut Gustave Roussy in France.
Dr. Dancey has special expertise in new anti-cancer drug development, linking drug and biomarker development, and associated clinical trials methodology. She is the author or co-author of more than 120 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 100 abstracts presented at scientific meetings and 15 book chapters. She has been an invited speaker at numerous local, national and international meetings, and has been chair for development therapeutics and biomarker sessions for ASCO and AACR Annual Meetings, and EORTC-NCI-AACR Molecular Targets Meetings.
Jessie M. English, Ph.D.
Dr. English is head of research of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The Belfer Institute of Applied Cancer Science is an integrated cancer research center established to increase the probability of success of novel oncology therapeutics by integrating academic and industry efforts in drug discovery. Dr. English leads a multidisciplinary team of experienced cancer researchers and industry-seasoned professionals who identify and define the best targets and define the optimal clinical path for targeted cancer therapies.
Dr. English previously served as the vice president of Kinase Biology at ArQule, where she had responsibilities spanning target identification through product candidate selection and development support. Prior to ArQule, she was the oncology site lead for external discovery at Merck Research Laboratories, where she was responsible for driving drug discovery programs through external scientific collaborations with industrial and academic partners. These diverse partnerships spanned the globe and include partners from academia, biotech and contract research organizations.
In 2004, she joined Pfizer Research Technology Center in Cambridge, MA, where she established and led Pfizer's Kinase Center of Emphasis which prosecuted 20 percent of Pfizer's early discovery stage kinase programs. At Pfizer she established a platform for efficiently prosecuting kinases including developing paradigms for identifying novel chemical matter targeting kinases. Also at Pfizer her team delineated a novel mechanism of resistance to sunitinib and imatinib in cKit mutated GIST.
Dr. English began her career in industry in 1998 at Schering-Plough Research Institute where she led a cross-functional team focusing on kinase targets for cancer therapy. In addition to traditional drug discovery, Dr. English published the first curation of protein kinases in the human genome as well as an elucidation of the ERK1,2 transcriptome in mammary epithelial cells.
Dr. English earned her B.S. with honors in biochemistry from Kansas State University and her Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a postdoctoral fellow at UT Southwestern Medical Center, in Dr. Melanie Cobb’s laboratory where she discovered a novel mammalian MAPK pathway through the discovery and characterization of MEK5. Dr. English also discovered the WNK gene family that was subsequently determined to be responsible for a hereditary form of hypertension.
Wen-Jen Hwu, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Hwu received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Carnegie-Mellon University and her M.D. from University of California College of Medicine. She completed her dual postdoctoral fellowships in medical oncology and molecular biology at the Yale University School of Medicine. She has been active in cancer research for more than 20 years. The combination of her extensive basic science training and deep clinical expertise allows her to translate innovative basic scientific concepts to the clinical setting as well as bring difficult clinical problems to the laboratory.
In her tenure at Yale, she organized the Yale Minority Medical Association and established the mentorship program for medical students, interns, residents, fellows and junior faculty. She also served as the chairperson for weekly multidisciplinary tumor conferences at Yale (melanoma and GU cancer) and now, at MDACC (melanoma). This is another teaching venue that brings challenging cases before oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, radiologists, fellows and other patient care providers for discussion of best treatment options as well as recent research discovery. She also served as physician liaison and advisor for the MDACC affiliated institutions and led the telemedicine conferences with sister institutions in Spain and Orlando.
Dr. Hwu became a professor at the UT MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in 2004. Her research interests include predictive/prognostic biomarker research aimed at personalized therapy, targeted therapy for both tumors and microenvironments, vaccine/immunotherapy development for melanoma prevention in high-risk patients, and brain metastasis research for a frequent and devastating complication of advanced melanoma.
Dr. Hwu has been working diligently with the basic scientists to translate the laboratory findings into exploratory clinical trials. Currently, she is conducting several phase I and II clinical trials with well-integrated translational research aimed at validating the laboratory findings and/or explore the effectiveness and safety profiles of innovative therapies.
Serving on the Fellowship Steering Committee and Graduate Student Advisory Committee since 2006, Dr. Hwu provided a strong, insightful and consistent voice to guide the educational direction for the Division of Cancer Medicine of MDACC and UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, respectively. Dr. Hwu received the 2007 Division of Cancer Medicine Hematology-Oncology Fellowship Training Award from Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) General Hospital Medical Oncology Program for her mentorship efforts at that facility for an underserved patient population, a challenging role requiring a comprehensive clinical base in general oncology. Dr. Hwu has been instrumental in the development and establishment of the palliative medicine fellowship program at the Connecticut Hospice (the first hospice in the United State) while she serves as a member of board of directors. She has been an AACR member since 1994 and is a member of 2008 AACR centennial grants review committee.
Dr. Hwu is very excited to serve on the WICR Council to share her passion and commitment to cancer research, education and patient care with other women in the field and help develop programs and spaces to support our ongoing growth as cancer researchers.
Nancy E. Hynes, Ph.D.
Nancy Hynes is a senior scientist at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research and a Titular Professor at the University of Basel. She has a long standing interest in breast cancer, in particular the signaling proteins that contribute to cancer development. In the late 1980s, her lab was one of the first to discover that the gene encoding the ErbB2 receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) was amplified in approximately 25 percent of primary breast tumors and showed that amplification resulted in a dramatic overexpression of the receptor. Her lab also made significant contributions to our mechanistic understanding of the ErbB ligand/receptor signaling network, an important one being that ErbB2 is the central receptor in the family and the preferred dimerization partner for each of the other ErbB receptors. She has also studied the role of ErbB2 in tumor cell migration, an essential characteristic of metastatic cancer cells. Indeed, her lab discovered Memo, a novel protein that interacts with ErbB2 and has an essential role, not only in ErbB2-induced tumor cell migration, but also in FGFR mediated migration. Considering that only 25 percent of patients show ErbB2 amplification and are eligible for cancer therapeutics targeting the receptor (trastuzumab and lapatinib), she has also explored the role of other RTKs in breast cancer in order to provide additional cancer targets. Her lab discovered that the Ret receptor is expressed in breast cancers and they are developing models to test its potential as a therapeutic target. Based on the genetic evidence that FGFR/FGF ligands have a role in a sub-population of breast cancer, this receptor is also intensely studied in her lab. She has received scientific awards for her research and serves on many scientific advisory boards in the cancer field.
Patricia M. LoRusso, D.O
Dr. LoRusso graduated from Michigan State University School of Osteopathic Medicine in 1981. After residency, she completed a fellowship in medical oncology in December 1988, with a focus on developmental therapeutics, joining faculty at Wayne State University School of Medicine in January, 1989. As a result of her focus on early therapeutics, she has come to be recognized as an international expert in the field of Phase I clinical research with a focus on novel trial design.
Dr. LoRusso currently serves as co-chair of the NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program (CTEP) Investigational Drug Steering Committee. She has also served on the education and scientific committees of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the scientific committee of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and has served as a member on several NCI and other peer-reviewed granting committees. For several years she has served on the faculty of AACR-supported clinical trials workshops including the Vail and Flims courses, and was recently elected to a three-year term on the ASCO nominating committee.
In 1999, Dr. LoRusso was awarded the Hero of Breast Cancer award and in 2004 the Bennett J. Cohen Educational Leadership Award for Medical Research. In 2008, Dr. LoRusso received the Marygrove College Distinguished Alumni Award, and was named one of Crain's Detroit Business Health Care Heroes. She was also recognized with the 2008 Michaele C. Christian Oncology Drug Development Award and Lectureship from NCI CTEP. In 2010, she was awarded the American College of Osteopathic Internists (ACOI) Researcher of the Year Award.
Worta McCaskill-Stevens, M.D.
Dr. McCaskill-Stevens completed her medical degree and internal medicine residency at Georgetown University followed by a medical oncology fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. In 1991, she joined the Indiana University faculty as co-director of the Indiana University Breast Care and Research Center and member of the Division of Hematology and Oncology. Currently, she is a program director in Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group, Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute. Her clinical research focus is breast cancer prevention and related areas. She is a co-author and NCI-program director for the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene and has worked to improve breast cancer risk assessment tools for African-American and Latina women. She represents the Division of Cancer Prevention on the Early Breast Cancer Clinical Trialists Group (Oxford, UK); the NCI Premalignancy Research Program Steering Committee; and is the NCI-chair of an upcoming State-of-the-Science Meeting on Ductal Carcinoma In Situ.
Dr. McCaskill-Stevens has a long interest in the participation of minorities in clinical research. She leads the Minority-Based Community Clinical Oncology Program which supports infrastructure for the conduct of NCI-sponsored treatment, cancer control and prevention clinical trials in communities with significant minority populations and which serves as a resource for research on cancer health disparities. Dr. McCaskill-Stevens serves on NCI, Clinical Trials Working Group Minority Accrual and Prioritization Committee and on the National Community Cancer Centers Program's Clinical Trials and Advisory Committees.
She has served as a member of the FDA Immunology Devices Panel; chair of the Underserved Populations Committee and co-chair of the Breast Endocrine Committee of the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group; and chair of the Hematology/Oncology Section of the National Medical Association. She has mentored many cancer investigators in training as well as senior investigators seeking career advice. She is currently on the Editorial Board of the Journal for Clinical Oncology for cancer prevention. Honors and awards include: Sarah Stewart Award for Leadership in Medicine, 1985; Kaiser Family Fund Award for Excellence in Academic Achievement and Leadership in Medicine; and a member of the Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society.
Martine J. Piccart, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Piccart is professor of oncology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and director of the Medicine Department at the Institut Jules Bordet, in Brussels, Belgium.
Dr. Piccart earned her M.D. and Ph.D. at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and received her oncology qualifications in New York and London. She is a member of the “Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique.”
With a primary interest in breast cancer and drug development, Dr. Piccart has a strong interest in international research collaboration, and is the principal or co-principal investigator of many clinical trials, including HERA, MINDACT and ALTTO. She is co-founder and chair of the Brussels-based Breast International Group (BIG), created in 1996 to facilitate international breast cancer clinical trials, and TRANSBIG, a European Commission supported translational research consortium to complement BIG’s clinical research network. BIG brings together 44 collaborative groups from around the world and has more than 30 trials under its umbrella; TRANSBIG represents 39 institutions in 21 countries; and BIG has recently launched an innovative biomarker and drug development program focused on neo-adjuvant trials, called NeoBIG.
Dr. Piccart is an active member of many professional organizations, currently serving as president-elect of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). She is immediate past-president of the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and recently served on the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Board.
She is author or co-author of more than 300 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and has received numerous prestigious awards for her contribution to research in oncology, including the ESMO Award for Exceptional Contribution to the Advancement of Medical Oncology in Europe (1997), a “Jacqueline Seroussi Memorial Foundation for Cancer Research Award” for "International leadership in translational and clinical research that has improved treatment outcomes for women with early stage and advanced breast cancer" (2005), the 14th Claude Jacquillat Award for achievements in clinical oncology (2006) and the ESMO-GSK Lifetime Achievement Award in Breast Cancer Research (to the Breast International Group in 2006). She was awarded the “Miami Breast Cancer Conference Award of Excellence for 2007” and the Jill Rose Award for distinguished biomedical research in October 2009 in New-York. More recently, Dr. Piccart received the William L. McGuire Award in recognition of her contribution in breast cancer research in December 2009 in San Antonio.
Victoria M. Richon, Ph.D.
Dr. Richon received her B.A. in chemistry from the University of Vermont and her Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Nebraska. Her thesis research focus was on the development of resistance to cisplatin. Following her graduate work, she conducted postdoctoral research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Following her postdoctoral research, Dr. Richon became an associate laboratory member at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in the Department of Cell Biology. In this role, Dr. Richon was a leading member of the scientific group that discovered the histone deacetylase inhibitor vorinostat (SAHA). This discovery was the basis of Aton Pharma Inc., a company that Dr. Richon co-founded and for which she served as executive director of biology. Dr. Richon led the discovery of selective inhibitors of histone deacetylases as well as the development of vorinostat. Aton Pharma was acquired by Merck & Co Inc. in 2004 and Dr. Richon continued supporting vorinostat through its approval by the U.S. FDA in October 2006 for the treatment of cutaneous manifestations in patients with advanced cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Marketed under the name Zolinza™, vorinostat is the first histone deacetylase inhibitor approved for the treatment of cancer. In addition to supporting vorinostat at Merck, Dr. Richon served as the head of the department of Cancer Biology and Therapeutics. In this role, Dr. Richon led the department’s efforts for the discovery and development of small molecule therapeutics for novel cancer targets.
In 2008, Dr. Richon joined Epizyme Inc. as vice president of biological sciences. Epizyme is leading the discovery and development of small molecule histone methyltransferase (HMT) inhibitors, a new class of personalized therapeutics for the treatment of genetically-defined cancer patients, based on breakthroughs in the field of epigenetics.