American Association for Cancer Research

AACR Team Science Award

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Eighth Annual Award Recipients
Duke University, Johns Hopkins, and NCI Malignant Brain Tumor Team
Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md.
National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.
Duke University Medical Center Team Members   

Duke University Medical Center from left to right

Henry Seth Friedman, Allan Howard Friedman, Daniel Barboriak, Darell Doty Bigner, Oren Josh Becher, Roger Edwin McLendon, Annick Desjardins, Gordana Vlahovic, B.K. Ahmed Rasheed, Hai Yan, Chien-Tsun Kuan, Yiping He, Stephen T. Keir, Katherine Barnett Peters, Matthias Gromeier, Michael Rod Zalutsky, Jason Watts, Sridharan Gururangan, Tulika Ranjan. Not pictured are John Howard Sampson and Thomas John Cummings, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Team Members
  Ira H. Pastan, M.D.
National Cancer Insititute
Ira H. Pastan
John Hopkins University from left to right
Nickolas Papadopoulos, Luis A. Diaz, Kenneth W. Kinzler, Bert Vogelstein, Victor E. Velculescu

The team members will receive their awards at the Opening Ceremony which will be held on Sunday, April 6, 2014, from 8 to 9:00 a.m. in the San Diego Convention Center. Visit the AACR Annual Meeting 2014 page for more information.

The Award 

Unparalleled opportunities now exist to detect, diagnose, prevent and more effectively treat cancer due to the sequencing of the human genome, progress in systems biology and the advancement of computer science and other technologies. Capitalizing on these opportunities often depends on the participation of researchers in specialties that include chemistry, physics, engineering, computational science, and nanotechnology. The integration of such specialties into cancer and biomedical research form the basis of interdisciplinary scientific teams.

This award has been established by the American Association for Cancer Research and Eli Lilly and Company to acknowledge and catalyze the growing importance of interdisciplinary teams to the understanding of cancer and/or the translation of research discoveries into clinical cancer applications. Proactive interaction between academic and industry researchers is particularly crucial to continue progress and accelerate drug development.

In addition, through the presentation of this award, the AACR and Eli Lilly seek to affect change within the traditional cancer research culture by recognizing those institutions that value and foster interdisciplinary team science. These institutions will have demonstrated their support of a team science environment by creating mechanisms to enhance the required infrastructure, such as through pilot funding, technology transfer offices, shared resources, etc., and by presenting awards, honors, appointments and promotions to those who participate in interdisciplinary teams.

The AACR Team Science Award will recognize an outstanding interdisciplinary research team for its innovative and meritorious science that has advanced or likely will advance our fundamental knowledge of cancer or a team that has applied existing knowledge to advance the detection, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of cancer.

The team selected to receive the Eighth Annual AACR Team Science Award will collectively be awarded an honorarium of $50,000 and be recognized during the AACR Annual Meeting 2014 in San Diego, Calif., USA (April 5-9, 2014). The representative institutions will be cited at the AACR Annual Meeting for their leadership role in fostering team science.

Eligibility Criteria

  • For the purpose of this award, a team is comprised of independent faculty-level researchers providing complementary interdisciplinary expertise, each of whom have made separate substantive and quantifiable contributions to the research being recognized.
  • Team members may be working within the same institution or at several institutions; however, if researchers are in the same institution, they must have clearly separate funding and research space.
  • The research to be recognized should reflect work toward a specific scientific goal that otherwise would not be realized by any single component of the team.
  • 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.
  • Teams comprising academic and industry researchers will be accepted.

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.


Nominations of teams will be considered by an Award Selection Committee of international cancer leaders appointed by the president of the AACR. After careful deliberation by the Award Selection Committee, its recommendations will be forwarded to the Executive Committee of the AACR for final consideration and decision. Selection of the Team Science Award winners will be made on the basis of the criteria listed above. No regard will be given to age, race, gender, nationality, geographic location, or religious or political views.


Linda Stokes, Program Associate

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


Eighth Annual Award Recipients
Duke University, Johns Hopkins, and NCI Malignant Brain Tumor Team

Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md.
National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Md.

The Duke, Hopkins, National Cancer Institute Malignant Brain Tumor Team is an interdisciplinary team that includes faculty from Duke, Johns Hopkins, and the NCI. Their findings have informed both the basic science and clinical communities in managing diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of brain tumors.

Working together against this cancer, the team identified several major genetic aberrations in GBM tumors that provided novel insights. One of their first discoveries was the amplification of a gene called GLI in GBMs. This gene has since been found to be a critical component of the Hedgehog signaling pathway and continues to be subject of intense research in both cancer and developmental biology.<\p>

Their next major discovery was a deletion mutant of EGFR called EGFRvIII that is exclusively found in GBMs. The team developed, and continues to develop, novel therapeutics targeting these drivers. One of these is an EGFRvIII therapeutic vaccine currently being tested in an international phase III clinical trial. Additionally, they have developed immunotoxins that target both of these drivers. The first clinical trial involving one of these immunotoxins showed that it was safe and that some patients benefited.

They were the first to describe the genomic landscapes of GBMs, reporting the sequence, copy number, and expression of every gene in the human genome in more than 20 cancers. In addition to providing the basic outline of GBM genomics, this work revealed that a gene called IDH1 was mutated in a subgroup of GBMs. They went on to discover that mutations in IDH1, or the related gene IDH2, were mutated in a large fraction of gliomas of various types. IDH1 was the first novel cancer gene to be discovered through unbiased genome-wide sequencing and has has a plethora of diagnostic and therapeutic implications.

One of their latest discoveries was that of mutations in genes (ATRX or TERT) controlling telomere maintenance in both GBMs and lower-grade gliomas. In addition to illuminating the biology of these tumors and their potential relationship to normal stem cells, these mutations provide a remarkably simple approach to the diagnostic classification of gliomas based on genetic rather than histopathologic features.

The team also used its molecular analyses of GBM tumors as a foundation to unravel some of the biologic abnormalities that characterize these cancers. This information led it to develop a genetically modified poliovirus that has lost the ability to kill nerve cells and cause poliomyelitis, but retains the ability to kill tumor cells. Early results of a phase I trial testing this oncolytic poliovirus are promising.

The development of new methods of brain tumor diagnosis and treatment requires integration of basic, translational, and clinical research from a multidisciplinary team of experts. This team’s collaborative efforts have undoubtedly enhanced the scientific field and ultimately will improve the lives of those with brain tumors.