American Association for Cancer Research

AACR Press Releases

AACR Inaugurates New Leadership at 2013 Annual Meeting

April 9, 2013

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  • Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., is the new AACR president
  • Frank McCormick, Ph.D., F.R.S., D.Sc. (hon.), now serves as past-president
  • Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D. is inducted as president-elect
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced its new leadership today as Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., became president of the organization for 2013-2014. He was inaugurated during the Annual Business Meeting, held in Washington, D.C., April 6-10.

“The AACR is an extraordinary organization and I’m privileged to be able to serve as president,” said Sawyers. “This is an exciting time in cancer research, as we see so many promising therapies emerging from our work. But it is also a time of financial strain, and we must be sure that Washington understands that it is imperative that we continue to invest in medical research. As president of the AACR, I will work with the organization to make sure that this message is heard, because it is imperative that the AACR and its members are in the strongest position to continue to have a positive effect on the lives of those touched by cancer.”

Sawyers is chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. He is also a professor in the Cell and Developmental Biology Program and Department of Medicine at the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University in New York, N.Y.

Sawyers conducts research to investigate the signaling pathways that drive the growth of cancer cells, particularly in the context of drug resistance, with an eye toward designing new treatment options. His laboratory is currently exploring the molecular basis of prostate cancer and mechanisms of resistance to hormone therapy. This work is focused on the role of the androgen receptor in disease progression, even when tumors progress to the hormone-refractory stage. Additional projects include deciphering mechanisms of resistance to enzalutamide (formerly MDV3100), a novel antiandrogen discovered by his group that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012. His lab is also dissecting androgen-receptor function using RNA-interference screens and examining crosstalk between the androgen receptor and other common molecular lesions in human prostate cancer such as PTEN loss and TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions.

He shared the 2009 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award for earlier work leading to the development of the ABL kinase inhibitor imatinib (Gleevec) for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, and the second-generation ABL inhibitor dasatinib (Sprycel) to overcome imatinib resistance.

Sawyers has received numerous other accolades, including the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research, the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, the American Society of Clinical Oncology David A. Karnofsky Award and, most recently, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the 2013 American Cancer Society/Society of Surgical Oncology Basic Science Lecture.

Sawyers is a co-leader of the Stand Up To Cancer-Prostate Cancer Foundation Dream Team “Precision Therapy of Advanced Prostate Cancer.” The AACR is the scientific partner for Stand Up To Cancer.

Sawyers has served the AACR in numerous capacities. He is a scientific editor for Cancer Discovery, the associate editor of Clinical Cancer Research and was an associate editor for Cancer Research.

In addition, he was a keynote speaker and scientific committee co-chairperson for the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference: Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics; co-chairperson of the AACR’s special conferences, Targeting the PI3 Kinase Pathway in Cancer and Emerging Concepts in Oncology; and chairperson of the AACR’s educational workshop Molecular Biology in Clinical Oncology. Sawyers has served previously as a member of the AACR Board of Directors, the Nominating Committee and the AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Committee.

Sawyers is a past president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, serves on President Obama’s National Cancer Advisory Board and is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.

Sawyers received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1985. He completed his residency training at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and then joined the fellowship program of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1993, Sawyers became an assistant professor at UCLA, and three years later was appointed associate chief of basic research and director of the Hematopoietic Malignancies and Bone Marrow Transplant Program. In 2002, he was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2006 to chair the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program.

Frank McCormick, Ph.D., F.R.S., D.Sc. (hon.), served with distinction as the AACR president for the 2012-2013 term and will now fulfill the role of past president for 2013-2014. McCormick is the director of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He holds the E. Dixon Heise distinguished professorship in oncology and the David A. Wood distinguished professorship of tumor biology and cancer research at UCSF. Additionally, he is the associate dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and a distinguished professor in residence in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, as well as in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.

McCormick is a pioneer in cancer research. He has studied the molecular basis of cancer and how genes, when mutated or expressed at high levels, help turn normal cells into oncogenes. In 1992, he founded the biotech company Onyx Pharmaceuticals and developed Nexavar, which is used to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. His current research interests center on the Ras pathway and new ways of targeting this pathway for cancer therapy.

Among his service to the AACR, McCormick served as program chairperson for the 2010 Annual Meeting and as a member of the board of directors and co-chair of the Annual Meeting Program Committee. He chairs the Task Force on Regulatory Science and Policy and previously chaired the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research and the Team Science Award Committees. He is a member of the Special Conferences Committee and participated in the Scientific Review and Program Committees for the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference: Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics meeting. McCormick is a scientific editor of Cancer Discovery and was a senior editor of Molecular Cancer Research.

He was the recipient of the 2002 AACR G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award for outstanding accomplishments in basic cancer research and was inaugurated into the first class of Fellows of the AACR Academy at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013.

McCormick is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and a fellow of The Royal Society, United Kingdom. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom.

McCormick has also received the Science of Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Cancer Research Grant, the Novartis Drew Award in Biomedical Research and the Shubitz Award from the University of Chicago Cancer Research Center. He has served as a board member and advisor for numerous cancer research organizations, including the Association of American Cancer Institutes, the Melanoma Therapeutics Foundation, the Canary Foundation, the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy and Friends of Cancer Research.

McCormick received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Birmingham and his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London.

Carlos L. Arteaga, M.D., is AACR president-elect for 2013-2014 and will assume the presidency in April 2014. Arteaga is a professor of medicine and cancer biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, in Nashville, Tenn., where he holds the Donna S. Hall chair in breast cancer research. He also serves as associate director for clinical research and director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Arteaga’s research interests include oncogene signaling and molecular therapeutics in breast cancer, with an emphasis on targeted therapies, mechanisms of drug resistance, translational research and investigator-initiated clinical trials. Early in his career, he was the first to report the role of IGF-I receptors and TGF beta in breast cancer progression and, as such, their potential as therapeutic targets. More recent work has focused on the role of presurgical and neoadjuvant trials to discover molecular biomarkers that inform patient selection in clinical trials and/or for the discovery of mechanisms of drug resistance in breast cancer. In studies focused on hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, he showed the role of aberrant activation of the PI3 kinase pathway in promoting escape from antiestrogens and the ability of inhibitors of HER2 and PI3 kinase to reverse resistance to antiestrogen therapy in human breast cancer. His work has significant implications for novel clinical trials in patients with breast cancer.

Arteaga’s involvement in the AACR spans more than a decade. He was a member of the Board of Directors (2004-2007); chair of the AACR Special Conferences Committee (2002-2008); member of the Annual Meeting Program Committee (2012 and 2013); co-chairperson of the special conference Molecularly Targeted Therapies: Mechanisms of Resistance (2012); member of the Clinical and Translational Cancer Research Grants Scientific Review Committee (2012); member of the AACR Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research Selection Committee (2011); co-chairperson of the AACR-Japanese Cancer Association joint conference; co-chair of the AACR special conference Advances in Breast Cancer Research (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2013); and an editorial board member of the AACR’s journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics (2002-2012).

Arteaga was an editorial board member for Clinical Cancer Research from 2001 to 2004 and is currently deputy editor. He has served as co-chair of the annual CTRC–AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium since 2009 and is a principal investigator on the Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team, “Targeting the PI3K Pathway in Women’s Cancers.”

He has received many honors and awards, including the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award; the American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor Award; the Gianni Bonadonna Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology; the Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation; and  the Clinical Investigator Award from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Additionally, he is a member of the Association of American Physicians, the American Society for Clinical Investigation and Susan G. Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Arteaga received his medical degree in 1980 from the Facultad de Ciencias Médicas at the Universidad de Guayaquil in Ecuador. Following an internal medicine residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., Arteaga completed a fellowship in medical oncology at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University in 1989.

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About the American Association for Cancer Research
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 membership includes more than 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 17,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight 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 team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term 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. For more information about the AACR, visit

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