American Association for Cancer Research

WICR Leadership Narrative Biographies

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.

Mary J.C. Hendrix, Ph.D.

Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix received her B.S. degree in biology from Shepherd College (now Shepherd University) in 1974, her Ph.D. in anatomy from George Washington University in 1977, and honorary D.Sc. in 1996 from Shepherd College and in 2011 from Lake Forest College. Dr. Hendrix was an NIH postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology from 1977 to 1980; assistant, associate and professor (and associate head) at the University of Arizona from 1980-1993 and served as an Arizona Disease Control Research commissioner from 1985 to 1994. She was the Immuno-US Endowed Professor and director of the Pediatric Research Institute, St. Louis University School of Medicine and Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital from 1994-1996, prior to joining the faculty of The University of Iowa as the Leading Woman Scientist Endowment recipient and head of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology in June 1996. She also served as the Kate Daum Research Professor, associate director of basic research, and deputy director for The Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at The University of Iowa, for the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine from 1996-2004. Currently she serves as 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. She is a member of the editorial boards of Clinical Proteomics, Developmental Dynamics, Cancer Biology and Therapy, Journal of Cellular Biochemistry, Cancer Research, the American Journal of Pathology, Cancer Prevention Research, and Cancer Microenvironment. She is a past-president of FASEB (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) consisting of over 100,000 members - the largest coalition of biomedical research societies in the United States. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences, the Board of Directors for Research!America, and the Board of Directors for the Chicago Council on Science and Technology. Dr. Hendrix served on the Council of Councils of the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute Board of Scientific Advisors, is a past-president of the Association of Anatomy, Cell Biology, and Neurobiology Chairpersons (AACBNC), and is a former co-director of the Virtual Naval Hospital. She has over 220 publications in biomedical research, and is the recipient of a MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Hendrix has been awarded the 1988 Outstanding Undergraduate Alumnus Award from Shepherd College, the 2003 Distinguished Achievement Award from The University of Iowa, the 2004 Australian Society for Medical Research Lecturer and Medal Recipient for Research and Advocacy, the 2006 Henry Gray Award by the American Association of Anatomists - recognizing achievement and unique and meritorious contributions to the field of anatomical science, the 2006 Distinguished Woman Faculty Award from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, the 2007 Murray Barr Award from the University of Western Ontario, the 2008 Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Lecturer Award in Japan, the 2010 Pritchett Lectureship Award from the University of Alabama, the 2010 Ruth Sager Memorial Lectureship from Harvard University, the 2012 Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship from the American Association for Cancer Research, the 2012 Barnum Lecture from Tufts University School of Medicine, and the 2012 H Foundation Basic Science Symposium Keynote Speaker from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Her scientific objectives include identifying genes which contribute to cancer metastasis. Her major goal is to understand the molecular basis of tumor cell plasticity by focusing on the convergence of embryonic and tumorigenic signaling pathways, thus providing new prognostic markers and novel targets for therapeutic intervention.

Pearl S. Huang, Ph.D.
Pearl Huang (Huang Zu Heng) majored in biology at M.I.T. as an undergraduate and completed her Ph.D. in 1990 at Princeton University in Prof. Thomas Shenk’s laboratory in molecular biology, studying DNA tumor and associated viruses. Immediately after graduating from Princeton, Dr. Huang joined Merck Research Laboratories as a senior research biochemist and contributed to and led numerous basic science and drug discovery programs, including the cloning of novel Rb binding proteins and discovery of early Ras-oncogene targeted farnesyl-transferase inhibitors. In 1999, Dr. Huang became director of cancer biology at Dupont Pharmaceuticals, later acquired by BristolMyersSquibb, where she led several preclinical therapeutic programs. In 2001, Dr. Huang moved to a Center for Excellence in Drug Discovery (CEDD) at GlaxoSmithKline, where she led a group of over 100 scientists and built the discovery pipeline for oncology, supportive care and ophthalmology.  Products that came from her group’s efforts include Tykerb, Promacta and Votrient, and include multiple programs currently in phase III clinical studies. After serving as vice president, CEED Biology, at GSK, Dr. Huang moved back to Merck in late 2006 as the vice president, Oncology Integrator. In this latter role, Dr. Huang was responsible for the creation and prioritization of the early clinical oncology pipeline, and oversaw discovery and application of novel biomarkers, imaging tools, and preclinical science for support of and use in early clinical development. 

In July 2010, Dr. Huang moved to Beijing to co-found BeiGene, a China based biotech focused on oncology drug discovery and development. During her time there, she built a discovery organization and pipeline, resulting in three patent filings “first in China” at the end of  2011. In March, 2012, Dr. Huang returned to GSK to join Alternative Discovery and Development as the vice president, Global Head of Discovery Partnerships in Academia (DPAc), where she is responsible for building a discovery pipeline of medicines with academic partners, in all therapeutic areas and geographic locations. 

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.

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.

Thea D. Tlsty, Ph.D.

Lillian L. Siu, M.D.

Dr. Lillian Siu is a senior staff medical oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital since 1998, and has been a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto since 2009. Dr. Siu is the director of the Phase I Program and co-director of the Robert and Maggie Bras and Family Drug Development Program at Princess Margaret Hospital. Dr. Siu currently holds a Tier I Cancer Care Ontario Chair in Experimental Therapeutics. She serves on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Clinical Oncology for 2012-2016.

Dr. Siu’s major research focus is in the area of new anticancer drug development, particularly with respect to phase I trials and head and neck malignancies. She is the principal investigator of a phase I cooperative agreement U01 award (2008-2014) sponsored by the United States NCI which aims to expedite the access and evaluation of novel anti-cancer agents for patients, optimize clinical trials design of new agents, and characterize the effects of new agents on their targets with clinically relevant endpoints, through the integration of suitable biochemical, pathological, immunological, molecular and/or imaging methods. In addition to her active research in early phase clinical trials, Dr. Siu has been leading genomics initiatives in the area of personalized cancer medicine at the Princess Margaret Hospital. Dr. Siu has extensive interests and experience in the training and mentorship of young oncologists. She has been a member of the Program Committees for both the FECS/ASCO/AACR workshop in Flims, Switzerland, and the AACR/ASCO workshop in Vail, Colorado, for the past few years, and was one of the course directors for the Flims Workshop in 2009-2011. As the co-director of the Drug Development Fellowship program within the Princess Margaret Hospital, she oversees the training to ensure that young oncologists in the program are exposed to a wide spectrum of research, educational and practical opportunities. Over the past decade, the fellowship program has consistently attracted trainees from cancer centers throughout the world. 

Internationally, Dr. Siu was the recipient of the US NCI Michaele C. Christian Award in Oncology Drug Development in 2010. Dr. Siu was the Neuroendocrine Tumor Task Force Chair in the North American Gastrointestinal Intergroup Scientific Steering Committee from 2007-2009; and she was the ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation Grants Selection Committee Chair in 2009-10. Dr. Siu was the chairperson of the AACR Education Committee and co-chairperson of the Scientific Committee for the 2012 Annual Meeting. She has published over 160 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and is currently an editor for the Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer Discovery.