Seventh Annual Award Recipient
Carlo M. Croce, M.D.
Human Cancer Genetics
The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Croce delivered his award lecture titled Causes and Consequences of MicroRNA Dysregulation in Cancer
, at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 in Washington, D.C. The award ceremony and lecture was held on Monday, April 8, 2013. Visit the AACR Annual Meeting 2013
page for more information on the Annual Meeting.
The AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship was established and first presented in 2007 in honor of the late Princess Takamatsu of Japan. During her extraordinary life, Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamatsu expended tremendous efforts toward the public and humanitarian cause of the eradication of cancer. She is regarded as an honored and respected figure in Japan, the United States, and within the international cancer research community as a whole.
Learn more about Princess Takamatsu.
This lectureship will recognize an individual scientist whose novel and significant work has had or may have a far-reaching impact on the detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer, and who embodies the dedication of the Princess to multinational collaborations. The recipient of the Seventh Annual Lectureship will present a major, 50-minute lecture during the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 in Washington, DC, USA (April 6-10, 2013).
The lecturer will receive an unrestricted cash award of US $10,000, support for the winner and a guest to attend the AACR Annual Meeting, and a commemorative item serving as tangible witness to the singular honor of his/her selection.
- 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 lectureship will be presented to an individual investigator.
- Institutions or organizations are not eligible for the lectureship.
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 Selection Committee of international cancer leaders appointed by the president of the AACR. Selection of the lecturer will be made on the basis of the novel and significant work, its far-reaching impact on the detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer, and his or her embodiment of the dedication of the Princess to multinational collaborations. No regard will be given to age, race, gender, nationality, geographic location or religious or political views. After careful deliberations by the committee, its recommendations will be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the AACR for final consideration and decision.
Generously supported by the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund (Japan).
Linda Stokes, Program Associate
American Association for Cancer Research
17th Floor, 615 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-4404
Sixth Annual Recipient
Mary J.C. Hendrix, Ph.D.
President and Scientific Director
Children's Memorial Research Center
Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix (center) delivered her lecture entitled, Targeting the Plasticity of Metastatic Tumor Cells, at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012 in Chicago, IL. Dr. Hendrix received her award from Dr. Susumu Nishimura, representatve of the Princess Takamatus Cancer Research Fund (left) and Dr. Philip C. Hanawalt, Selection Committee chairperson.
Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix is honored for her seminal contributions and paradigm-shifting insights into the plasticity of aggressive tumor cells, with the goal of uncovering new targets for diagnosis and therapeutic intervention. She is a leader in the promising field of reprogramming tumor cells and identifying the genes implicated in tumor reversion.
The first example of a discovery that challenged the existing paradigm is vasculogenic mimicry, introduced by Dr. Hendrix and coworkers to describe the unique ability of highly aggressive human melanoma cells to express multiple cellular phenotypes. These phenotypes include transdifferentiation into endothelial-like cells to form vasculogenic networks that contribute to perfusion pathways in tumors. This process appears to recapitulate embryonic vasculogenesis, supporting the hypothesis of Dr. Hendrix and others that aggressive tumor cells acquire an embryonic-like phenotype, which underlies their plasticity and confounds therapeutic targeting strategies.
Noteworthy was the correlation of vasculogenic mimicry with metastatic potential and poor clinical outcome, reported in Dr. Hendrix’s 1999 paper and highlighted by a commentary in Science. She has now demonstrated the importance of many signaling molecules as critical components of vasculogenic mimicry. She has shown how melanoma cells secrete an anticoagulant to perfuse vasculogenic mimicry channels, and Doppler imaging of human melanoma xenografts demonstrated blood-flow between tumor-lined vasculogenic networks and established endothelial-lined host vasculature. Translationally relevant was her demonstration that endostatin inhibited endothelial-driven angiogenesis while vasculogenic mimicry in melanoma cells was unaffected. She also found the endostatin receptor on endothelial cells, but little if any on the surface of melanoma cells, helping to explain the failure of angiogenesis inhibitors in several clinical trials.
Dr. Hendrix and her colleagues have carried out pioneering studies to determine whether exposing aggressive melanoma cells to normal embryonic microenvironment(s) might reprogram their metastatic phenotype. Transplanting human metastatic melanoma cells adjacent to host chick embryo premigratory neural crest cells in ovo resulted in reprogramming of the tumor cells to a neural crest cell-like phenotype expressing markers of melanocyte differentiation. Exposure to embryonic microenvironments of human embryonic stem cells revealed the reactivation of the embryonic Nodal signaling pathway in aggressive tumor cells. Dr. Hendrix and coworkers published the first reports showing significance of the Nodal signaling pathway in aggressive melanoma and breast carcinoma, its association with disease progression, and possible epigenetic mechanisms for reprogramming these tumor cells to a less aggressive, differentiated phenotype by down-regulating that plasticity gene. Her findings led to the discovery of cross-talk between the Nodal and Notch stem cell signaling pathways in aggressive melanoma. Collectively Dr. Hendrix’s work has exploited the convergence of embryonic and tumorigenic signaling pathways for cancer therapy, yielding new paradigms in cancer biology and novel targets for therapeutic intervention.
Dr. Hendrix majored in Biology at Shepherd College, where she held a Turner Excellence in Science Scholarship. She earned her Ph.D. at George Washington University and carried out postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School. She rose through the academic ranks to Professor at the University of Arizona, where she was a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Center. She moved to Saint Louis University Health Sciences Center to direct the Pediatric Research Institute, and subsequently Chaired the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the University of Iowa, before accepting her current position as President and Scientific Director of the Children’s Memorial Research Center in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Dr. Hendrix has received Honorary Doctorates in Science from Shepherd University and from Lake Forest College. She is a Past-President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and the recipient of a MERIT Award from National Cancer Institute. She has won numerous awards and lectureships, including the 2004 Australian Society for Medical Research Lecturer and Medal Recipient for advocacy, the 2006 Henry Gray Award from the American Association of Anatomists, and the 2006 Distinguished Woman Faculty Award from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
In her lectures Dr. Hendrix consistently acknowledges her many international collaborations with groups in The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, Taiwan and Japan. She has held particularly strong interactions with Japanese cancer researchers, has participated in Princess Takamatsu International Symposia twice, and was awarded the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Foundation Annual Lectureship in 2008.