American Association for Cancer Research

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AACR Honors Graham A. Colditz, M.D., Dr.P.H., With Award for Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention

March 23, 2012

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CHICAGO — The American Association for Cancer Research will recognize Graham A. Colditz, M.D., Dr.P.H., with the 21st AACR-American Cancer Society Award for Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 – April 4.

The AACR-American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention was established in 1992 to honor outstanding research accomplishments in the fields of cancer epidemiology, biomarkers and prevention. Colditz will give his lecture, “Integrating risk across the life-span: The case of breast cancer prevention,” on Tuesday, April 3 at 3 p.m. CT in room S100 of McCormick Place.

Colditz is the Niess-Gain professor of surgery, professor of medicine and associate director of prevention and control at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. He is also chief of the division of public health sciences, department of surgery and deputy director at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University School of Medicine.

Colditz’s research interests have revolved around elucidating the lifestyle and environmental risk factors that contribute to the onset of cancer. One mechanism employed by Colditz to accomplish this has been to conduct large-scale, population studies involving subsets of individuals that present with a particular disease. Colditz has served as principal investigator on two such studies, the Nurses’ Health Study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS).

The Nurses’ Health Study seeks to identify risk factors and biomarkers such as smoking, tobacco, oral contraceptive use, diet and exercise, and alcohol consumption that predispose or increase the risk for women to develop various diseases or conditions including cancer, cardiovascular or eye disease, osteoporosis and/or stroke. From these studies, Colditz has determined that specific hormone replacement therapies, for instance the addition of progestin to estrogen-based treatment regimens, are associated with a substantial increase in a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer, especially among postmenopausal women. This finding has been confirmed in randomized, controlled trials and subsequent epidemiological studies that have further determined that up to 10 percent of all breast cancers diagnosed in postmenopausal women are associated with combined hormone-based cancer therapies.

Similar studies have been conducted by Colditz within GUTS. This study is tailored toward investigating the risk factors among children and adolescents that predispose them to diseases such as diabetes and cancer. He has shown alcohol intake during adolescence increases a woman’s risk of premalignant breast lesions in her early adult years. The study is further focused on defining the role of a sedentary lifestyle and the growing epidemic of childhood obesity on disease occurrence and understanding how such risk factors influence adulthood predisposition to illness.

In addition to his work with the Nurses’ Health Study and GUTS, Colditz is heavily involved in cancer prevention and education and has worked to implement strategies to reduce cancer’s burden on society. He has been influential in developing an interactive web tool ( that provides the public with cancer risk assessments and prevention strategies, while simultaneously educating users on the background and nature of cancer. This website has received numerous awards, including the 2008 eHealth Leadership Award for interactive media.

Born in Sydney, Australia, Colditz received his master’s and doctorate of public health degrees from Harvard University of Public Health in Boston, Mass., in 1982 and 1986, respectively. In 1998, he received his medical degree from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

Colditz has received many honors and awards, including the AACR-DeWitt S. Goodman Memorial Lectureship, a Fulbright Scholarship and the Knox Fellowship at Harvard University, the American Cancer Society Faculty Research Award, the ASPO Distinguished Achievement Award, election to membership of the Institute of Health and the American Cancer Society Cissy Hornung Clinical Research Professorship. In 2011, he was awarded the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor for cancer control research.

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About the AACR

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR’s membership includes 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research that have the potential for patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.  

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