PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) recognized Joseph R. Bertino, MD, FAACR, with the 15th AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research during the AACR Annual Meeting 2018 held April 14-18 in Chicago.
Bertino, a medical oncologist and senior advisor to the director at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the University Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is being honored for his pioneering work in translational science and for his outstanding influence on our understanding of cancer and cancer treatment. His basic science discoveries in the fields of drug action and tumor cell resistance have translated into novel clinical interventions and provided critical groundwork for scientific exploration by new generations of cancer translational researchers.
“Dr. Bertino is a highly esteemed physician-scientist whose pioneering research transformed our use of methotrexate and other chemotherapies like it,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “His lifelong dedication to improving outcomes for patients with leukemia and lymphoma is deeply admired by his colleagues, and we are proud to honor his remarkable accomplishments with this special award.”
The AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research was established in 2004 to honor individuals who have made significant fundamental contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a collective body of work. These contributions, whether they have been in research, leadership, or mentorship, must have had a lasting impact on the cancer field and must have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer.
Bertino’s fundamental work establishing the importance of folate in cancer metabolism and defining the mechanisms of methotrexate resistance helped him shape optimal methotrexate administration schedules for several types of cancer. They also laid the foundation for his work in developing new antifolates and in developing new treatment regimens, including one of the first curative chemotherapy regimens for diffuse large cell lymphoma.
Still active in both research and patient care, Bertino continues to work on exploring novel cancer treatments for patients with lymphoma.
Bertino was elected to the inaugural class of the Fellows of the AACR Academy in 2013. He has also been honored with the AACR-Joseph H. Burchenal Memorial Award (2008) and the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award (1978).
An active member since 1962, Bertino has held key leadership roles at the AACR; he served as AACR President from 1995-1996 and he served on the AACR Board of Directors from 1976-1979. He served as senior editor (1995) and was an editorial board member (1996-2017) of Clinical Cancer Research. Additionally, he has served on the following committees: the Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievement Committee (2007-2008 and 2014-2015), chair (2010-2011) and member (2007-2008) of the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Committee, the Finance Committee (2008-2011), member (2006-2007) and chair (2001-2002) of the Landon Translational Prize Selection Committee, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award Committee (2001-2002), the AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship Committee (2000-2001), the Women in Cancer Research Committee (2000-2001), chair of the Ad Hoc By-Laws Revisions Committee (1998-1999), the Nominating Committee (1998-1999), the Development Committee (1998-1999), and the International Affairs Committee (1997-2003).
Bertino has also received numerous accolades throughout his career, including the Jeffrey A. Gottlieb Memorial Award from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (2011), the Outstanding Medical Research Scientist Award for Clinical Research from the Edward J. Ill Excellence in Medicine Foundation (2009), the John Ultman Award for Contributions to Lymphoma Research (2008), the Key to the Cure Award from the Lymphoma Research Foundation (2006), the Freundlich Leadership Award from the Lymphoma Research Foundation (2004), the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO; 1992), and the Jenaro Haddock Award from the University of Puerto Rico (1978). He also served as president of ASCO in 1975, and he was the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Prior to his position at Rutgers, Bertino served as chairman of the Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. He received his medical degree from Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, and was director of the Yale Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Yale University School of Medicine. Bertino served as chairman of the Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, and he was a professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at the Cornell University School of Medicine.
Bertino was recognized at the opening ceremony of the AACR Annual Meeting on Sunday, April 15.