American Association for Cancer Research

Press Releases: 2006

Leading Cancer Research Organization Elects New Leadership


March 9, 2006


Field(s) of Research: Carcinogenesis, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Clinical Research, Endocrinology, Epidemiology, Experimental and Molecular Therapeutics, Immunology, Prevention Research, Tumor Biology

American Association for Cancer Research chooses officers, directors and nominating committee members for 2006 and beyond

PHILADELPHIA—William N. Hait, M.D., Ph.D., director of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, N.J., will become president-elect of the American Association for Cancer Research effective April 3, 2006, at the 97th AACR Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

He succeeds Geoffrey M. Wahl, of The Salk Institute for Biological Sciences in La Jolla, Calif., who was chosen president-elect at the 2005 meeting and who will accede to the presidency this year.

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc., director of the University of Southern California./Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, who has served as AACR president for the 2005-2006 term, will fulfill the role of past president.

The president, president-elect and past president serve terms of one year, comprising the period between annual meetings, which typically are held in April.

William N. Hait, M.D., Ph.D., has been director of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey and professor of medicine and pharmacology and associate dean for oncology programs at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School since 1993. His principal research interests include breast cancer, drug development, calcium-mediated signal transduction, multidrug resistance, translational research and clinical pharmacology. Specifically, his laboratory focuses on the determinants of sensitivity to anticancer treatments and signal transduction systems uniquely altered in malignant cells. The research spans molecular and cellular biology to tissue culture and animal models, ultimately arriving in the clinic.

“The AACR stands as a beacon for those who understand and therefore value the importance of excellence in research to the ultimate conquest of cancer,” Hait said. “The AACR offers cancer researchers their most natural professional home because of its diverse scientific membership that spans laboratory, translational, clinical, and population research; its vibrant activities for advocates and survivors; its multiple mechanisms for exchange of information including regional, national and international meetings; and its robust publishing division.”

Hait was named editor-in-chief of the AACR journal Clinical Cancer Research in 2005, and is associate editor of the AACR’s flagship publication, Cancer Research. His further service to the AACR includes chairing the Clinical Cancer Research Committee and membership on committees that deal with clinical research, pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. Further, he is an expert in science policy and regulatory affairs pertaining to oncologic drugs, and was the AACR representative to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A native of Newark, N.J., Hait received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1978. He joined the faculty of the Yale University School of Medicine in 1984, after serving his internship there, and was promoted to associate professor of medicine and pharmacology. Hait served as associate director of the Yale University Comprehensive Cancer Center, director of the Breast Cancer Unit and co-director of the Lung Cancer Unit at the Yale University School of Medicine. He was appointed chief of medical oncology at the Yale University School of Medicine in 1988. Hait briefly was acting chief of medical oncology at the West Haven Veterans Administration Hospital in West Haven, Conn., before joining UMDNJ and CINJ.

Geoffrey M. Wahl, Ph.D., is the new AACR president. He is a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory of The Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., and an adjunct professor in the Department of Biology of the University of California, San Diego. His research interests include molecular biology and the genetics of cancer; genetic instability during cancer initiation and progression; cellular responses to chemotherapeutic agents; oncogene signaling and other stresses related to cancer development or treatment; initiation of DNA replication in normal and malignant cells; and development of targeted therapeutics.

Wahl and his colleagues have investigated mechanisms of genetic instability in cancer cells, which led to their demonstration that integrity of the p53 tumor suppressor pathway is essential for maintaining genome stability. Their current research uses the p53 pathway as a model to understand the mechanisms by which normal and cancer cells sense and respond to the diverse stresses that contribute to cancer development. Using animal and in vitro two-dimensional and three-dimensional models, they investigate how p53 structure – and the regulatory proteins with which it interacts – enables different gene expression patterns to be elicited depending on the stress and tissue in which the system is activated. Wahl and his group are integrating this information to develop molecularly targeted therapies to activate the p53 pathway to induce cell death in the significant fraction of cancers that retain wild type p53 genes.

Wahl earned his doctorate in biological chemistry at Harvard University, and did post-doctoral research at Stanford University. He served three years on the Executive Committee, Integration Panel, Department of Defense Cancer Research Program. Awards include that for Outstanding Contributions to Science Education, given by the San Diego Science Educators’ Association and the “Citation Classic” Designation for One of the Most Highly Cited Scientific Papers, 1961-1982.

Previously, he has served the AACR as a member of the Board of Directors; program chairperson of the 95th Annual Meeting; member of the editorial boards of the journals Molecular Cancer Research and Cell Growth and Differentiation; as well as holding numerous other, special conference chairs and committee posts.

Peter A. Jones, Ph.D., D.Sc., AACR’s outgoing president, is director of the University of Southern California/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center; director of the Urological Research Laboratories; and distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Jones also holds the H. Leslie and Elaine S. Hoffman Cancer Research Chair at the University of Southern California.

He studies how cancer-related genes become heritably silenced during carcinogenesis, resulting in functional inactivation. The primary focus of his research is on DNA cytosine methylation and how this process interacts with chromatin structure to ensure heritable silencing. He also is interested in translating basic scientific discoveries into clinical treatments, specifically for human bladder cancer. He and his colleagues are working on drugs that can reverse silencing and turn genes back on again, and designing strategies where this kind of epigenetic therapy can be applied to the treatment of human cancers.

Born, raised and educated in the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Jones received his doctor of philosophy degree from the University of London in 1973. He joined the University of Southern California in 1977, attaining the rank of professor in 1985, and becoming director of the cancer center in 1993.

In 1983 he won the USC Associates Award for Creativity in Research and Scholarship. He is the author of more than 200 journal publications and book chapters, and he serves on several national and international committees, panels and editorial boards. He has received a variety of honors, including the Outstanding Investigator Grant from the National Cancer Institute and, in 1999, he was named distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at USC.

Five new members were elected to the AACR Board of Directors for the 2006-2009 term. They are:

James L. Abbruzzese, M.D., F.A.C.P. is the M. G. and Lillie A. Johnson Chair for Cancer Treatment and Research and Chairman of the Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. His research interests center on pancreatic and other gastrointestinal cancers, new drug development, non-invasive assessment of anti-cancer drug effects, and cancer prevention.

Born in Hartford, Conn., Abbruzzese graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine. He completed residency in Internal Medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore Md., and a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

He is a deputy editor of the AACR journal Clinical Cancer Research. His past and present AACR committee service includes the areas research funding, clinical cancer research and a number in education and career development. He is active in program planning for international conferences and meetings, and has been a member of the faculty for the Scientist↔Survivor Program at four previous annual meetings.

Lucile L. Adams-Campbell, Ph.D. is director of the Howard University Cancer Center, in Washington, D.C., and professor of medicine, graduate professor of psychology and associate professor of physiology and biophysics at Howard University. Currently, she is the only African-American woman directing a cancer center in the United States. She is also visiting professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins University and adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Her research primarily addresses health disparities related to women’s health issues, particularly breast cancer, with a focus on cancer etiology of disease outcomes attributed to exercise, nutrition and other lifestyle factors. In addition, as the principal investigator of a Minority Based Community Clinical Oncology Program, Adams-Campbell is actively involved in clinical trials in minority populations.

She received a B.S. in biology in 1977, and a M.S. in biomedical science in 1979, both from Drexel University in Philadelphia. In 1983, she became the first African-American woman in the country ever to receive a Ph.D. in epidemiology, when she earned her doctorate from the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Adams-Campbell chaired the AACR Minorities in Cancer Research Council between 2001 and 2004, and previously chaired the Minority Issues Committee for five years. She has served on the scientific review committee for two AACR International Conferences on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research. Her AACR committee memberships include Science Policy and Legislative Affairs, Science Education, Public Education and Annual Meeting Planning, among others.

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D. is Morris Herzstein Professor of Biology and Physiology; professor of biochemistry and biophysics; and professor of microbiology and immunology with the University of California, San Francisco. For more than a quarter century, she has been investigating the structure and role of telomeres, the tips of genetic material at the end of chromosomes. She applies her insights into telomere biology to the development of a new anti-cancer therapy that forces cells with active telomerase to make errors during telomere synthesis, effectively triggering cellular suicide.

She earned B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in biochemistry from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Cambridge in England. Prior to joining the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UCSF in 1990, she was a member of the molecular biology faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. She is a Non-Resident Fellow of the Salk Institute.

Blackburn received the Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research in 2005. She also is a past winner of the Pezcoller-AACR International Award for Cancer Research, and the AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award.

She is senior editor of the AACR journal Molecular Cancer Research. She co-chaired AACR special conferences on “The Role of Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer,” in 2002 and 2004.

David R. Parkinson, M.D. is Vice President, Oncology Development and Commercialization at Amgen, Inc., in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He is responsible for devising strategic approaches to the development and commercialization of new oncology therapeutics, and serves as a member of Amgen’s Pipeline Steering Committee. Previously, he was global head of oncology translational development at Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation, where he led teams that successfully registered numerous therapies internationally, including Gleevec®, the first successful protein kinase inhibitor, Zometa®, a bisphosphonate indicated for the treatment of bone metastases, and Femara®, an aromatase inhibitor indicated in the treatment of breast cancer.

Born in Canada, Parkinson received his M.D. degree from the University of Toronto School of Medicine in 1974, and did his residency in internal medicine at McGill University. He held academic positions at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Mass., and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, before moving to the National Cancer Institute in 1990, first as the head of the Biologics Evaluation Section of the Investigational Drug Branch, Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, then as Chief of the Investigational Drug Branch of CTEP, and finally as Acting Associate Director of CTEP from 1995 until he left to join Novartis in 1997.

Parkinson currently serves the AACR as chairman of the Finance Committee and a member of the Publications Committee. He co-chairs the program committee for the AACR International Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development. Previous AACR service includes membership on the Task Force on Cancer Prevention and several award and program development committees.

Helen M. Piwnica-Worms, Ph.D. is professor of internal medicine and professor of cell biology and physiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo. She is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. She is interested in how the cell division cycle is regulated and how perturbations in cell cycle control contribute to human cancer.

A graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., Piwnica-Worms earned a B.A. in biology in 1979. Her doctorate in microbiology and immunology is from Duke University in Durham, N.C. She took postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where she went on to become an instructor of pathology. She was assistant professor of physiology at Tufts University Medical School, also in Boston, and held assistant professorships in microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Hospital.

She is currently senior editor of the AACR journal Molecular Cancer Research, and was co-chairperson of the AACR Annual Meeting Program Committee in 2005.

Four new members were elected to the AACR Nominating Committee. They will serve alongside the four current members to develop the candidate slates for president-elect and director. With the board of directors, they will also choose the candidates for the next nominating committee slate. They are:

Mina J. Bissell, Ph.D., senior advisor to the laboratory director on biology, and distinguished scientist, Life Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley.

Edison T. Liu, M.D., executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore; executive director of the Singapore Tissue Network; executive director of the Singapore Cancer Syndicate; professor of medicine and professor of the department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine, National University of Singapore.

Charles J. Sherr, M.D., Ph.D., Herrick Foundation Endowed Chair, Department of Genetics and Tumor Cell Biology, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn., and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Craig B. Thompson, M.D., scientific director, Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center; chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and professor of medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. Our members include more than 24,000 basic, translational, and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 60 other countries. AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs, and funding meritorious research projects. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts some 16,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel information across a wide variety of cancer research and patient care topics. AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, as well as CR, a magazine about people and progress in cancer.

Contact:

Elizabeth Tait
2150440-9300 ext. 144
tait@aacr.org