AACR 115th Anniversary Event
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Luminaries from across the cancer research community gathered at the National Portait Gallery in Washington to mark the 115th anniversary of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Following a stirring performance by Grammy-winning baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan, AACR Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), welcomed attendees by reflecting upon how the AACR’s distinguished history goes hand in hand with the evolution of the cancer research field. Following Dr. Foti’s survey of the AACR’s storied past, she took a moment to recognize selected members of Congress for their leadership in making medical research funding a national priority:
- Senator Roy Blunt was honored with the AACR Award for Distinguished Public Service and Global Impact in Cancer Research and Biomedical Science. (Sen. Blunt was unable to attend, but he thanked the attendees via video remarks.)
- Representative Tom Cole was presented with the AACR Distinguished Congressional Champion Awards in for Extraordinary Support of Medical Research.
Following the recognition of Congressional Champions, AACR Fellow and Nobel Laureate William G. Kaelin Jr., MD, discussed the future of cancer research.
After dinner, 2022-2023 AACR President Lisa M. Coussens, PhD, FAACR highlighted the AACR’s central role as a catalyst for change among the six sectors of the cancer community:
- Academia and Cancer Centers
- Scientific Organizations
- Advocacy and the Lay Public
Dr. Coussens acknowledged the contributions made to cancer research by the NIH, NCI, and FDA and honored two leaders in this sector:
- Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, received the AACR Distinguished Public Service Award for Extraordinary Leadership in Medical Research in recognition of his exceptional leadership and sustained contributions to science and technology advancements that have significantly transformed cancer research and patient care.
- Jed Manocherian received the AACR Distinguished Public Service Award for Exceptional Advocacy in Support of Medical Research in honor of his consistent efforts to advocate for medical research support to improve public health.
AACR Past President Raymond N. DuBois, MD, PhD, FAACR, acknowledged the vital role of philanthropic organizations in funding critical advances in cancer research and presented the AACR Outstanding Achievement Award For Service to Cancer Science and Medicine to two leaders in this area:
- The Pezcoller Foundation, its current President Enzo Galligioni, MD, and its Distinguished Former Presidents were honored for their sustained international efforts to recognize, promote, and support cutting-edge cancer research.
- Stand Up To Cancer, its current President Russell Chew, DDS, and the SU2C Founders and Scientific Advisory Committee were honored for their sustained dedication to raising significant funds in support of innovative cancer research to improve patient care since SU2C’s inception in 2008.
Academia and Cancer Centers
2021-2022 AACR President David A. Tuveson, MD, PhD, FAACR, discussed the critical role of academic scientists in driving progress against cancer, highlighting the contributions of cancer centers. In addition, AACR Board member and former Minorities in Cancer Research Council chair John D. Carpten, PhD, FAACR, highlighted the AACR’s efforts to ensure that the cancer workforce is as diverse as the patients it serves.
AACR Past President Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, FAACR, thanked the AACR’s colleagues in industry for their efforts to advance the organization’s mission and recognized the leading Sustaining Member for its long-standing support:
- AstraZeneca and its Chief Executive Officer, Sir Pascal C.R. Soriot, were presented with the AACR Outstanding Achievement Award For Service to Cancer Science and Medicine in honor of their sustained dedication to advances in innovative cancer research, development of novel therapeutics, and delivery of life-changing medicines to patients worldwide.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Foti emphasized the AACR’s role as a trusted broker that forges the collaborations necessary to drive progress against cancer. She noted that the AACR has collaborated synergistically with 85 national and international scientific organizations, including ASCO, ASH, AACI, ONS, ACS, ASPO, IASLC, CRI, SITC, EACR, EORTC, ESMO, JCA, KCA, SBOC, and AORTIC.
Advocacy and the Lay Public
Dr. Foti presented Anna D. Barker, PhD, FAACR, with the AACR Distinguished Service Award for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Research, Science Policy, and Advocacy in honor of her visionary contributions to cancer research that have revolutionized the field, for exceptional stewardship in science and public policy, and for extraordinary leadership of the AACR Scientist↔Survivor Program®.
Dr. Barker then presented the AACR Outstanding Achievement Award in Public Service, Cancer Research, and Advocacy to several advocates and organizations that have made critical contributions to advancing progress against cancer:
- Frances M. Visco, JD, was honored for her trailblazing and relentless efforts to establish the cancer patient advocacy movement that has significantly increased public awareness and support for research advances against cancer
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and its President and Chief Executive Officer Louis J. Degennaro, PhD, were honored for their steadfast commitment to promoting and supporting advances in blood cancer research and patient care.
- The St. Baldrick’s Foundation was honored for its steadfast commitment to the support of advances in childhood cancer research and improved patient care. Sarah Milberg, Director of Government Relations and Advocacy, accepted the award for St. Baldrick’s.
Two-time cancer survivor Col. Gary Steele (U.S. Army, ret.) closed the event with an inspirational address about the vital importance of patients and caregivers to the cancer research enterprise. He made special mention of his close friend Connie Young, who participated in a clinical trial more than ten years ago for an experimental treatment for multiple myeloma. While Connie passed away in 2013, the experimental drug she helped evaluate is now a part of Col. Steele’s standard of care. To emphasize the value of these connections in the fight against cancer, Col. Steele asked the attendees to stand if they have had cancer, if a member of their family has had cancer, or if they work in the cancer science and medicine. Almost all of the audience stood as one, showing solidarity among all sectors of the cancer community that the AACR brings together.