American Association for Cancer Research

About Margaret Foti

 Margaret Foti

Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.)
Chief Executive Officer, AACR
Secretary-Treasurer, AACR Foundation

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), earned a master’s degree and a doctorate in communications from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa. Foti’s graduate education and training focused on scientific communications, especially communications research, scientific publishing, and information science.

At the AACR, Foti progressed through several key management roles in scientific publishing to become chief executive officer in 1982. Working collaboratively with the elected officers of the AACR, she has provided the corporate knowledge and continuity of leadership that have been critical to the association’s progress and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. During Foti’s tenure, the AACR’s membership has grown from about 3,000 to 34,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries.  

Foti joined the AACR as an editorial assistant for Cancer Research under the editorship of her first mentor, Michael B. Shimkin, M.D. She was rapidly promoted to managing editor under the editorship of Sidney Weinhouse, Ph.D., and became the youngest managing editor of a major scientific journal in the country. Foti has since launched seven major peer-reviewed scientific journals: Cancer Discovery; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Cancer Prevention Research; and Cancer Immunology Research. The AACR also publishes Cancer Today, a magazine for cancer patients, survivors, and their families and caregivers.

Foti leads the AACR’s scientific partnership with Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable initiative that supports groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated time frame. The AACR plays an integral role by providing expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. Foti’s leadership was instrumental in the production of the landmark AACR Cancer Progress Report 2011 and its equally impactful sequel, the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2012, both of which celebrate the many ways that we have made research count for cancer patients, with a focus on advances in the field.

Among her many professional activities, Foti serves as a board member and past-president of the National Coalition for Cancer Research. She is also a member of the executive committee and board of Friends of Cancer Research, a board member of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and its Life Sciences Congress, a medical advisory board member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and a council member of the European Association for Cancer Research.

Foti previously served as a board member of the Translational Genomics Research Institute. She was also a board member and president of the Council of Science Editors and the Society for Scholarly Publishing. She has served in various capacities for the International Federation of Science Editors, the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, the European Life Science Editors Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association, among other organizations. Foti has also been a consultant to several nonprofit organizations and lectures widely at academic institutions in the United States and abroad.

Foti has received many national and international awards for her contributions to cancer research. Most recently, she received the Stanley P. Reimann Honor Award from Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia in May 2013, and in March 2013 she was honored with the Distinguished Partner in Hope Award during the Annual Colorectal Cancer Conference hosted by the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. In 2012, she received the National Brain Tumor Society’s Founders Award for Excellence in Cancer Research, was recognized as a “First Lady” of the Intercultural Cancer Council, received the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2012 Biotech Humanitarian Award, and received Research!America’s 2012 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Award for Sustained National Leadership.

In 2010, Foti was awarded the first Margaret Foti Award, established by the University of Catania Ph.D. Oncology Program and the Italian League Against Cancer of Catania. The same year, she also received the Philadelphia Pinnacle Award, presented by the Millay Club to Philadelphians at the pinnacle of their professions. In 2009, she received the first Margaret Kripke Legend Award from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, the European CanCer Organization Lifetime Achievement Award, and a citation from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for her dedication to increasing awareness of the importance of cancer research as well as for her pivotal role in creating National Cancer Research Month in May. She was the first recipient of an AACR award created in her name in 2007.

Additionally, Foti received the Award of Appreciation from the Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research chairpersons, an Award With Recognition and Appreciation from the Israel Cancer Association, the Italian League Against Cancer Commendation, the Distinguished Service Award from the George Washington University Medical Center’s GW Cancer Institute, the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of American Cancer Institutes, the AACR Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research, the Ville de Paris Award, the Cino Del Duca Award for raising public awareness of cancer globally, the Community Caring Award from the William S. Graham Foundation for Melanoma Research, and the Special Recognition Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology for her work in advancing clinical cancer research.

Foti has also been awarded honorary memberships in the Japanese Cancer Association, the European Association for Cancer Research, and the Hungarian Cancer Society. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in medicine and surgery from the University of Rome La Sapienza in 2003. She received a second honorary doctorate in medicine and surgery from the University of Catania in Sicily in 2008, and a third honorary doctorate in medicine from the University CEU of San Pablo in Madrid in 2009. In 2012, she was honored with honorary citizenship from the mayor of Riposto, Italy.