American Association for Cancer Research

AACR G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award

James P. Allison, Ph.D.  54th Annual Award Recipient
James P. Allison, Ph.D.
Chairman, Immunology Program
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Dr. Allison's award ceremony and lecture will be held on Monday, April 7, 2014, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the San Diego Convention Center. Visit the AACR Annual Meeting 2014 page for more information.

The Award and Lecture

The AACR and Eli Lilly and Company established this award in 1961 to honor Dr. G.H.A. Clowes, who was a founding member of the AACR and a research director of Eli Lilly. The Clowes Award recognizes an individual with outstanding recent accomplishments in basic cancer research.

The recipient of the 54th Annual AACR G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award will receive a $10,000 honorarium, give a 50-minute lecture during the AACR Annual Meeting 2014 in San Diego, Calif., USA (April 5-9, 2014), and will be given support for the recipient and a guest to attend the annual meeting. The recipient will also speak at the Eli Lilly and Company headquarters in Indianapolis, Ind., at the invitation of the company later in 2014.


  • Candidacy is open to all cancer researchers who are affiliated with any institution involved in cancer research, cancer medicine, or cancer-related biomedical science anywhere in the world. Such institutions include those in academia, industry, or government.
  • The award will be presented to an individual investigator.
  • Institutions or organizations are not eligible for the award.

Nomination Procedure and Instructions

Nominations are closed.

Nominations may be made by any scientist, whether an AACR member or nonmember, who is now or has been affiliated with any institution involved in cancer research, cancer medicine, or cancer-related biomedical science. Candidates may not nominate themselves.


Candidates will be considered by a committee of international cancer leaders appointed by the president of the AACR. After careful deliberations by the Award Committee, its recommendations will be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the AACR for final consideration and decision. Selection of the award recipient will be made on the basis of the candidate’s recent accomplishments in basic cancer research. No regard will be given to age, race, gender, nationality, geographic location, or religious or political views.


Generously supported by Eli Lilly and Company.


Linda Stokes, Program Associate
American Association for Cancer Research
615 Chestnut Street, 17th Floor
Philadelphia, PA  19106-4404


James P. Allison, Ph.D. 54th Annual Award Recipient
James P. Allison, Ph.D.
Chairman, Immunology Program
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas

Dr. Allison has laid the foundation for our ability to manipulate the T-cell system for therapeutic applications against cancers and is, therefore, greatly deserving of this honor.

Dr. Allison’s early research focused on understanding how the immune system defends the body from pathogens and cancer, with particular emphasis on the role of T lymphocytes. In this process, he uncovered previously unknown mechanisms of T-cell function.

In 1982, Dr. Allison and his colleagues identified the T-cell antigen receptor (TCR), which recognizes foreign antigens. He also discovered that this recognition is not sufficient for the activation of naïve T cells. Subsequently, he discovered two key molecules, the CD28, which is constitutively expressed on the surface of the T cell and is needed for its activation, and a homolog of CD28 called CTLA-4, which is induced after the activation of the T cell, and is a major downregulator of T cells. Dr. Allison described how all these molecules act in concert in the process of engaging the antigen presenting cells that carry the foreign antigens, such as cancer antigens.

Dr. Allison hypothesized that the immune system fails to recognize tumor cells since CTLA-4 downregulates T-cell activation. Based on this theory, he created antibodies to this molecule and demonstrated the rejection of established tumors in several mouse model systems. He then developed an antibody to human CTLA-4, ipilimumab, which has been used in clinical trials in more than 4,000 patients with a variety of cancers including metastatic melanoma, prostate, renal, lung, and ovarian cancers.

In recent years, Dr. Allison identified several other checkpoint and costimulatory molecules and he has been testing the combination of immunological therapies and targeted therapies, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors, for more effective treatment against cancers. He will play an instrumental role in MD Anderson’s Moon Shots Program to dramatically accelerate the pace of converting scientific discoveries into clinical advances that reduce cancer deaths.

Dr. Allison has received numerous awards and honors, including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the inaugural AACR-Cancer Research Institute Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Association of Immunologists, the Centeon Award for Innovative Breakthroughs in Immunology, the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Biology from the Cancer Research Institute, The Dana Foundation Award in Human Immunology Research, the Richard V. Smalley Award from the International Society for Biological Therapy of Cancer and the Roche Award for Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy. He is a member of the American Association for Immunologists, the Academy of Cancer Immunology, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among others.

Dr. Allison obtained his doctoral degree in biological sciences from The University of Texas in Austin and did his postdoctoral fellowship in molecular immunology at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla, Calif. He served as the chair of the immunology program at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute from 2004 to 2012.