American Association for Cancer Research

SU2C-PCF Joint Scientific Advisory Committee

The Joint Scientific Advisory Committee for the SU2C-PCF Prostate Dream Team Translational Cancer Research Grant is dedicated to seeking out the most innovative and promising prostate cancer research projects. The committee is comprised of highly accomplished senior laboratory researchers and physician-scientists, as well as advocates. The scientific oversight provided by the Joint Scientific Advisory Committee is critical to achieve Stand Up To Cancer's mission to translate the most promising cancer research into real advances in cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention as quickly as possible. 

Joint Scientific Advisory Committee Biographies

Phillip A. Sharp, Chairperson Karen E. Knudsen
William G. Nelson, Vice-chairperson      Natasha Kyprianou
Howard Soule, Vice-chairperson Joel B. Nelson
Angelo De Marzo Michael J. Weber
Adam P. Dicker Virgil H. Simons
William G. Kaelin Jr. James E. Williams Jr.


Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., Chairperson
Institute Professor
David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA

A world leader of research in molecular biology and biochemistry, Dr. Phillip A. Sharp is institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Dr. Sharp earned a B.A. degree from Union College, KY, in 1966, and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1969. He did his postdoctoral training at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied the molecular biology of plasmids, and then studied gene expression in human cells at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory under James Watson. Much of Dr. Sharp's scientific work has been conducted at MIT's Center for Cancer Research, which he joined in 1974.

Dr. Sharp's research interests have centered on the molecular biology of gene expression relevant to cancer and the mechanisms of RNA splicing. His landmark achievement was the discovery of RNA splicing in 1977. The discovery that genes contain nonsense segments that are edited out by cells in the course of utilizing genetic information is important in understanding the genetic causes of cancer and other diseases. For this work he received the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. His lab has now turned its attention to understanding how RNA molecules act as switches to turn genes on and off (RNA interference). These newly discovered processes have revolutionized cell biology and could potentially generate a new class of therapeutics.

Dr. Sharp has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and has served on many advisory boards for the government, academic institutions, scientific societies and companies. In addition to the Nobel Prize, his awards include the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, the National Medal of Science for Biological Sciences and the inaugural Double Helix Medal from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. Dr. Sharp co-founded Biogen (now Biogen Idec), Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, an early-stage therapeutics company and Magen Biosciences Inc., a biotechnology company developing agents to promote the health of human skin.

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Dr. Nelson is a recognized leader in translational cancer research. He is one of three Co-Chairs of the National Cancer Institute Translational Research Working Group, which reported its findings to the National Cancer Advisory Board in June of 2007. He has served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of several companies focused on the development of new technologies and treatments for human cancer and is the President of the National Coalition for Cancer Research. He has served as a member of the American Association of Cancer Research's Board of Directors, and on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., Vice-chairperson
Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

William G. Nelson, M.D., Ph.D., is the Marion I. Knott director and professor of oncology and director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. He earned his medical degree and Ph.D. at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He went on to pursue internal medicine residency training and medical oncology fellowship training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is a professor of oncology, urology, pharmacology, medicine, pathology and radiation oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, with a joint appointment in environmental health sciences at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Dr. Nelson directs a translational research laboratory focused on discovering new strategies for prostate cancer treatment and prevention, and manages a clinical practice focused on developing these new treatment and prevention approaches in early "proof-of-principle" prostate clinical trials.

Dr. Nelson is a recognized leader in translational cancer research. He is one of three co-chairs of the National Cancer Institute Translational Research Working Group, which reported its findings to the National Cancer Advisory Board in June of 2007. He has served on the Scientific Advisory Boards of several companies focused on the development of new technologies and treatments for human cancer and is the president of the National Coalition for Cancer Research. He has served as a member of the American Association of Cancer Research's Board of Directors, and on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

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Howard Soule, Ph.D., Vice-chairperson
Executive Vice-president and Chief Science Officer
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Santa Monica, CA

Howard R. Soule, Ph.D., coordinates global academic, government and biopharmaceutical sector research activity and is responsible for the implementation of Prostate Cancer Foundation global research strategies. He is also a member of the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program Integration Panel. In addition, Dr. Soule is a senior fellow of the Milken Institute, a non-partisan economic think tank and parent organization to FasterCures.

Dr. Soule was a senior R&D executive for nine years at Corvas International Inc., a public biotechnology company, and developed innovative products for the treatment of life-threatening cardiovascular diseases. Dr. Soule has considerable experience in medical diagnostic and device industries as well.

Dr. Soule received a Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in virology and epidemiology and was a postdoctoral fellow in immunology and vascular biology at the Scripps Research Institute. 

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Angelo De Marzo, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief Medical Officer
Predictive Biosciences Inc.
Lexington, MA

Angelo De Marzo, M.D., Ph.D., currently serves as chief medical officer for Predictive Biosciences Inc., which is a molecular diagnostics company focusing on genitourinary cancer. Previously, he was a professor of pathology, oncology and urology and a member of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he still maintains a part-time adjunct faculty position.

Dr. De Marzo received his undergraduate, medical and graduate degrees from the University of Colorado. He completed a residency in anatomic pathology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1997 and since 1998 he has been a practicing board-certified urological pathologist, focusing extensively on prostate pathology. His research at Johns Hopkins focused on the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer initiation and progression, as well as the role of inflammation in prostate cancer. He also performed clinical diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarker research in urological cancers.

Dr. De Marzo has published more than 200 articles, has served on a number of NIH grant review panels, is a former member of the Department of Defense Prostate Cancer Research Program (PCRP) Integration Panel, and currently serves on the editorial board for the journals The Prostate and Cancer Prevention Research.

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Adam P. Dicker, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Radiation Oncology
Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA USA

Dr. Adam P. Dicker is chair and professor of radiation oncology, pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Dicker leads the radiation research and translational biology program at the Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University. In addition, he serves as director of the Christine Baxter Research Laboratory for Experimental Cancer Therapies at Jefferson Medical College. His laboratory has utilized zebrafish as a new model to study radiation response in whole organism. They have characterized the baseline gene expression profile of zebrafish at various stages of development using a species-specific microarray to assess genetic modulation following exposure to radiation both in the presence or absence of radiomodifying agents. His work in prostate cancer, funded by the Department of Defense and the Prostate Cancer Foundation focuses on the “self-seeding” of prostate cells with metastatic properties back to the site of origin, which contributes to disease progression. Dr. Dicker has also received funding for prostate cancer from the Department of Defense, exploring the use of “smart needles”. Dr. Dicker has been a principal investigator in a significant number of “first in human” developmental therapeutic trials involving novel signal transduction agents and radiation therapy. He and his colleagues at Jefferson have developed new approaches to radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer, and have successfully applied their findings from the laboratory to the clinical setting. 

Dr. Dicker serves as the chair of the Translational Research Program in the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), a National Cancer Institute sponsored cooperative group. He served as chair of the Radiation and Cancer Biology Committee of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology. Dr. Dicker represents the RTOG on the National Cancer Institute’s Investigational Drug Steering Committee of Cancer Treatment Evaluation Program and also serves as a consultant on cancer to the European Commission, the National Cancer Institute of Canada and the Italian Association of Cancer Research. He has published extensively on prostate brachytherapy, image guided radiotherapy and use of preclinical model systems for drug development and has more than 160 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters. Dr. Dicker serves on numerous ASTRO and ASCO committees and on the editorial boards of Clinical Cancer Research, Cancer Biology, BMC Cancer, Frontiers in Radiation Oncology and Radiation Oncology.

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William G. Kaelin Jr., M.D.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA

Dr. William G. Kaelin Jr., is a professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA. He received his medical degree from Duke University in 1982 and was a house officer in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He went on to become a medical oncology clinical fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. David Livingston, where he began his studies of tumor suppressor proteins. He became an independent investigator at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1992 as a James S. McDonnell scholar and became a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 1998. Dr. Kaelin is also a professor in the department of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital, senior physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital, and associate director for basic research at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

Dr. Kaelin's research interests have focused on tumor suppressor genes and the normal functions of the proteins they encode. The long-term goal of his work is to lay the foundation for the development of new anticancer therapies based on the functions of specific tumor suppressor proteins. His studies of tumor suppressor genes linked to hereditary forms of cancer have uncovered molecular pathways that are important in non-hereditary cancers and have accelerated the development of new treatments for kidney cancer.

Dr. Kaelin is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine and has served on numerous boards and committees, including the American Association for Cancer Research's Board of Directors and the NCI Board of Scientific Advisors. He has received many awards for his work, including the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Prize for Cancer Research and the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer.

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Karen E. Knudsen, Ph.D.
Department of Cancer Biology
Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia
Philadelphia, PA USA

Dr. Karen E. Knudsen is professor of cancer biology, urology and radiation oncology, at the Thomas Jefferson University and NCI-designated Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Knudsen received her Ph.D., focused on cell cycle checkpoint control, from the University of California at San Diego in 1996. Her postdoctoral studies with Dr. Webster K. Cavenee at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research cultivated a program centered on the mechanisms underlying hormone-dependent cell cycle control. Dr. Knudsen was recruited to Thomas Jefferson University in 2007 after a successful career at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, where she was a tenured associate professor. Dr. Knudsen now serves as program leader of the Kimmel Cancer Biology of prostate cancer program, and director of the Greater Philadelphia Prostate Cancer Working Group.

Dr. Knudsen’s research interests are dedicated to understanding the mechanisms by which hormone receptor and cell cycle deregulation lead to prostate cancer progression and therapeutic bypass. The overall goal of Dr. Knudsen’s laboratory is to utilize this information for successful development of precision medicine, so as to improve therapeutic outcome and patient care through rational therapy delivery. Her studies identifying tumor suppressor and hormone receptor alterations have uncovered new targets for treating advanced disease, and led to development of biomarker-driven clinical trials.

Dr. Knudsen serves on a multitude of national boards and committees, including those for the American Association for Cancer Research, the Endocrine Society and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.  She has been a senior editor for Cancer Research since 2007, is an associate editor for Endocrine-Related Cancer, and sits on the editorial boards of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, the American Journal of Pathology, Molecular Endocrinology and Oncogene. Dr. Knudsen has received numerous awards for her research, including the Ronald Ross Award for Excellence in hormone-dependent malignancies from the Pacific Rim Breast and Prostate Cancer Research Organization and the Richard E. Weitzman Laureate Award from the Endocrine Society.

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Natasha Kyprianou, Ph.D.
James F. Hardymon Chair in Urologic Research
University of Kentucky Medical Center
Lexington, KY

Dr. Kyprianou is professor of urology, molecular biochemistry, pathology and toxicology in the department of surgery and holds the James F. Hardymon chair in urology research at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Ky. Dr. Kyprianou received her undergraduate and graduate education at the University of London and the University of Leeds, and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Wales College of Medicine in the United Kingdom (Ph.D. 1986). She completed fellowships in molecular oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and in molecular biology at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London, England.

Dr. Kyprianou's research interests focus on the deregulation of apoptosis and growth factor signaling pathways in benign and malignant prostate, development of molecular therapeutics (via tumor selective apoptosis-targeting) for castration-resistant prostate tumors, and development of novel biomarkers of prostate and bladder cancer progression. She has made seminal contributions to the hormone-dependent apoptosis signaling mechanisms during tumorigenesis and has published more than 150 peer-reviewed original articles and reviews on molecular pathogenesis of cancer and therapeutic targeting of metastatic prostate cancer. Her book/monograph entitled “Molecular Exploitation of Apoptosis Pathways in Prostate Cancer” was recently published by Imperial College press (London).

Dr. Kyprianou served as a member and chair of several grant review advisory panels at the National Institutes of Health (NIDDK, NCI), the Department of Defense for the Congressionally Directed Programs in prostate and breast cancer, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the American Urological Association (AUA) Research Foundation. She is active nationally and internationally in several leadership positions including serving as the president of the Society for Basic Urologic Research (2004-2006), a board member of the International Prostate Health Council and a member of the AUA Research Council. Dr. Kyprianou served as the chair of the Integration Panel for the congressionally directed Prostate Cancer Research Programs in the Department of Defense (PCRP) and she was the co-chair of the Innovative Minds in Prostate Cancer Today (IMPaCT) meeting in 2011.

Dr. Kyprianou has received several awards and honors including the Woman in Urology Award from the Society for Basic Urologic Research/American Urological Association (2006), the Distinguished Mentor Award from the American Urological Association Foundation (2008), “In the Know” Award from the Prostate Network, USA (2009) and the Dominique Chopin Distinguished Award in Urology from the EAU/ESUR (2010). She is currently on the editorial board of several journals, including Cancer Research, British Journal of Pharmacology, The Prostate, APOPTOSIS and PLoS One. Dr. Kyprianou is an advocate of academic mentoring, funding and training opportunities for young investigators in translational research.

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Joel B. Nelson, M.D.
Schwentker Professor and Chair
Department of Urology
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Joel. B. Nelson is the Frederic N. Schwentker professor and chairman of the department of urology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is also co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute’s Comprehensive Prostate and Urologic Cancer Center. Prior to joining the university faculty, Dr. Nelson received his B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh in 1983 and his medical degree from Northwestern University, where he was chief resident in urology from 1993 to 1994. Following surgical and urologic residencies at the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University and a fellowship at the Brady Urological Institute, he became an assistant professor of urology and oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and director of urologic oncology at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Dr. Nelson's clinical interests include prostate cancer and other urinary tract malignancies. He maintains an extensive research program to rapidly translate basic laboratory findings into clinical trials. Dr. Nelson’s research focuses primarily on new ways to treat advanced prostate cancer that no longer responds to hormone therapy. Dr. Nelson's laboratory identified the protein endothelin-1 in advanced prostate cancer and published evidence suggesting that this factor contributes to prostate cancer growth and spread to the bones, in addition to causing pain associated with bone metastasis. Subsequently, Dr. Nelson developed clinical protocols using an agent to block the activity of endothelin-1. While at Johns Hopkins University, the clinical trials involved men with advanced prostate cancer whose disease was androgen independent and thus resistant to mainstay, anti-hormone therapies. To date, results in treated patients show a decline in prostate specific antigen, a protein that at high levels is associated with prostate cancer activity, and a decrease in pain.

Dr. Nelson has gained considerable recognition for both his clinical work and research. He has been featured in several publications due to the great strides he has made in the treatment of prostate cancer and is the recipient of multiple awards. For four consecutive years, he received a research award from the CaPCURE Foundation, an organization established to fund promising research on prostate cancer. From 1994 to 1996, he was a Dornier scholar with the American Foundation for Urologic Disease. In 1997, he was named Pfizer scholar in urology, and in 1999, he received a SBUR/Merck Young Investigator Award for his studies. In addition, Dr. Nelson also serves on the consulting editors board for the scientific journal Urology and is an ad hoc reviewer for several other medical publications, including The New England Journal of Medicine..

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Michael J. Weber, Ph.D.
University of Virginia Cancer Center
Charlottesville, VA

Dr. Michael J. Weber is the director of the University of Virginia Cancer Center, and professor of microbiology and the Weaver professor of oncology at the University of Virginia. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science, he received his B.Sc. from Haverford College in 1963, Ph.D. from the University of California San Diego in 1968, and was a postdoctoral fellow and American Cancer Society fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He was on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign from 1971-1984, when he moved to the University of Virginia. He helped the university obtain its first NCI-designated Cancer Center and co-founded the Cancer Cell Signaling Program, which has been the foundation for many subsequent investigations on cancer cell regulation and the discovery of therapeutic targets.

Dr. Weber has been a major contributor to the discovery and analysis of the MAP Kinase pathway, which is a key driver of many malignancies, among the most prominent of which is melanoma. Dr. Weber first demonstrated the central role of “p42/Microtubule Associated Protein 2a Kinase” in the regulation of cell growth, and renamed it “Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase, (MAP Kinase).” He and his collaborators were responsible for identifying the activating phosphorylations, isolating the first full-length clone, demonstrating a MAP Kinase Kinase (MEK) activity, demonstrating that Ras could activate Raf, and that B-Raf could activate MEK, first use of a phospho-specific antibody in patient FFPE archival samples, and showing that Ras signaling could activate the androgen receptor. His research has focused over the past 10 years on understanding how signal transduction networks can best be used as a target for cancer therapy, with a focus on rational construction of combinatorial therapies.

Dr. Weber is among the top 1 percent most-cited authors in the areas of molecular biology and genetics; biology and biochemistry (Thomson Reuters). He has served on numerous NIH and foundation grant review panels and advisory boards, including the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and is a member of the original organizing committee and on the grant review committee of the Melanoma Research Alliance. Dr. Weber’s dedication to cancer research is not only professional, but personal: he is a member of a cancer family with BRCA2 mutations, and knows firsthand the importance of improving cancer outcomes by understanding basic cell and molecular biology and genetics.

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Virgil H. Simons, M.P.A.
Founder and President
The Prostate Net
Barcelona, Spain, and Newark, NJ

Virgil Simons is the founder and president of The Prostate Net, a non-profit patient education and advocacy organization committed to providing credible and actionable information that will minimize the negative impact of prostate cancer. Using the experiences gained as a 17-year survivor of prostate cancer and a patient advocate, he has built, over the past 16 years, an international organization that uses a matrix of informational and interventional techniques to address disease risk awareness, early disease interdiction and advanced-stage disease management.

Mr. Simons is a member of the American Association for Cancer Research, American Society of Clinical Oncology, European Association of Urology, American Public Health Association, Minorities in Cancer Research, and serves as chair (FY2012) of the congressionally-directed Medical Research Program for prostate cancer. He is a member of the External Advisory Board for Northwestern University Medical Center’s Prostate Cancer SPORE, the External Advisory Committee of the Center for Clinical Research at Clark Atlanta University, and the Advisory Board of CURE magazine. He is also vice-chairman of the World Wide Prostate Cancer Coalition, a confederation of international prostate cancer advocacy organizations committed to promoting best standards of practice on a global basis.

Mr. Simons has received several awards in recognition of his work on behalf of those affected by a diagnosis of prostate cancer including the Cancer Leadership Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, the Catherine Logan Award for Service to Cancer Survivorship from the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and the HOPE AWARD of the Intercultural Cancer Council. Prior to his involvement in health care, he had an extensive career in the textile, financial services, international trade and retail markets as a senior executive and/or entrepreneur. He has completed course work for an MBA, and recently received a MPA degree concurrent with the public health mission of The Prostate Net.

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Colonel (Ret) James E. Williams Jr.
Chair-Elect, Intercultural Cancer Council
Alliance for Prostate Cancer Prevention (APCaP)
Camp Hill, PA

Jim Williams, a prostate cancer survivor diagnosed in 1991, has been active as an advocate for 21 years. He is the immediate past chair of the Intercultural Cancer Council at the University of Houston, and principal at Jim Williams and Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in prostate cancer awareness, education and advocacy.

Col. Williams represents the advocacy community in numerous national and local organizations. He is vice president of the Intercultural Cancer Council Caucus. Col. Williams is a member of the Patient Advocacy Committee for the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, and a board member of the Alliance for Prostate Cancer Prevention, (APCaP). In Pennsylvania, he is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Dauphin County State Health Improvement Plan, the Governor's Cancer Control, Prevention and Research Advisory Board, and the Pennsylvania Cancer Control Consortium, and is chairperson, Board of Directors, Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalitions. In addition, Col. Williams serves on the editorial board of American Association for Cancer Research's (AACR) Cancer Today Magazine.

Col. Williams is the recipient of the 2012 Susan Matsuko Shinagawa LiveSTRONG Cancer Control Leadership Award and has received the National Cancer Institute Directors Service Award, National Institutes of Health Certificate of Appreciation, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Certificate of Commendation, Wesley Union Community Development Corporation Paul Robeson Special Recognition Award, Prostate Cancer Research Institute/US TOO International Inc. Unity Award, Department of Defense Certificate of Appreciation, The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs Inc., Certificate of Appreciation and the Department of the Army Certificate of Appreciation.

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Last updated, September 21, 2012