AACR Announces Recipients of its 2023 Scientific Achievement Awards, Lectureships, and Prizes
Awardees to be recognized at the AACR Annual Meeting 2023 in Orlando
PHILADELPHIA – The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will honor the following cancer researchers, physician-scientists, advocates, and journalists during the AACR Annual Meeting 2023, to be held April 14-19 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.
This award was established to honor an individual who has made significant fundamental contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a body of work. These contributions, whether 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.
June, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, is the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy, director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, and director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is being recognized for his revolutionary contributions to developing the first gene-edited cell-based therapy for cancer that involves the genetic re-engineering of a patient’s own T cells to combat their disease, and for demonstrating that adoptive T-cell therapy can induce remission and in some cases cure patients with advanced cancer.
June’s award lecture will be held on Sunday, April 16, at 4:30 p.m. ET.
AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Basic Cancer Research: Kathryn E. Wellen, PhD (Photo)
This award recognizes an early-career investigator for meritorious achievements in basic cancer research.
Wellen is an investigator at the Penn Epigenetics Institute and vice chair and professor in the Department of Cancer Biology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is being recognized for her instrumental contributions to delineating the fundamental links between cellular metabolism, epigenome regulation, and cancer onset and progression, including her identification of the link between PI3K/AKT signaling and AKT-dependent ATP-citrate lyase phosphorylation, resulting in elevated histone acetylation and upregulation of cancer cell adhesion and migration genes.
Wellen’s award lecture will be held on Monday, April 17, at 5:15 p.m. ET.
AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Blood Cancer Research: Riccardo Dalla-Favera, MD, FAACR (Photo)
This award recognizes an individual on the basis of their meritorious achievements and contributions to any aspect of blood cancer research.
Dalla-Favera, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, is director of the Institute for Cancer Genetics; the Percy and Joanne Uris Professor of Clinical Medicine; professor of pathology and cell biology, microbiology and immunology, and genetics and development; and member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University. He is being recognized for his fundamental discoveries dedicated to characterizing the genetic drivers of human B-cell lymphomas and for uncovering new avenues for cancer prevention and therapy that have been routinely exploited clinically to diagnose and determine novel therapeutic strategies for B-cell lymphoma.
Dalla-Favera’s award lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 18, at 3:45 p.m. ET.
AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research: Carolyn R. Bertozzi, PhD (Photo)This award is presented for outstanding, novel, and significant chemistry research that has led to important contributions in basic cancer research, translational cancer research, cancer diagnosis, the prevention of cancer, or the treatment of patients with cancer.
Bertozzi is the Baker Family Director of Sarafan ChEM-H, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Professor of Chemistry and, by courtesy, of Chemical and Systems Biology and of Radiology at Stanford University. She is also an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The recipient of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, she is being recognized for her groundbreaking contributions to the development of biorthogonal chemistry, profiling cell surface glycosylation alterations commonly associated with cancer, inflammation, and bacterial infection, and for spearheading the development of novel diagnostic probes for the study of cancer-immune cell interactions and immunotherapy development.
Bertozzi’s award lecture will be held on Sunday, April 16, at 4:30 p.m. ET.
AACR Daniel D. Von Hoff Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education and Training in Cancer Research: Polly A. Newcomb, PhD, MPH (Photo)
This award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the education and training of cancer scientists and physicians at any career level and in any area of cancer research.
Newcomb is professor emeritus, Cancer Prevention Program, Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and professor emeritus, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Washington. She is being recognized for her tireless support of cancer education and training, highlighted by her many years of mentorship and encouragement of countless graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career investigators, including many researchers from underrepresented minority groups.
This award recognizes individuals whose extraordinary work has exemplified the AACR’s mission to prevent and cure all cancers through research, education, communication, collaboration, science policy, advocacy, and funding for cancer research.
Phyllis Pettit Nassi, MSW (Photo)
Phyllis Pettit Nassi, MSW, is the associate director, research and science, special populations at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She is being recognized for her longstanding commitment as a patient advocate for American Indian tribes across the Mountain West and beyond, and for an unwavering commitment to improving health literacy and clinical trial enrollment among American Indian populations that has profoundly impacted these underserved communities and drastically improved their quality of life and access to cancer care.
Jane Perlmutter, PhD, MBA (Photo)
Jane Perlmutter, PhD, MBA,is president and founder of the Gemini Group. A breast cancer survivor herself, she is being recognized for her unparalleled leadership as a patient advocate, including through the AACR’s Scientist↔Survivor Program®; her dedication to improving the patient experience through innovative clinical trial designs, including I-SPY2; and for efforts to ensure that the patient voice is included in research and trial design, accelerating patient access to new treatments, and dramatically improving their quality of life and overall survivorship.
Pettit Nassi and Perlmutter will be honored during the AACR Annual Meeting 2023 Opening Ceremony on Sunday, April 16, at 8 a.m. ET.
AACR James S. Ewing-Thelma B. Dunn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pathology in Cancer Research: Arul M. Chinnaiyan, MD, PhD, FAACR (Photo)
This award, named for the AACR’s first President, James S. Ewing, MD, and the AACR’s first female President, Thelma B. Dunn, MD, both of whom were pathologists, serves to recognize and celebrate pathologists who have significantly contributed to advancing cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Chinnaiyan, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, American Cancer Society Research Professor, and S.P. Hicks Endowed Professor of Pathology and Urology at the University of Michigan. He also serves as the inaugural director of the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology. He is being recognized for illuminating research contributions to defining the links between chromosomal abnormalities and cancer, including his discovery of TMPRSS2-ETS gene fusions in prostate cancer, and for pioneering the use of pathological and bioinformatic methodologies to diagnose and track prostate cancer onset and progression.
Chinnaiyan’s award lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 18, at 5:15 p.m. ET.
This award recognizes a true champion of cancer research whose leadership and extraordinary achievements in cancer research have had a major impact on the field. Such achievements may include contributions to the acceleration of progress against cancer, raising national or international awareness of the importance of cancer research, or other ways of demonstrating a sustained extraordinary commitment to cancer research.
Jaffee, a Fellow of the AACR Academy and former AACR President (2018-2019), is the Dana and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli Professor in oncology and deputy director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC) at Johns Hopkins University, as well as inaugural director of the Convergence Institute and associate director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at SKCCC. She is also a professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, co-director of the Skip Viragh Center for Pancreas Cancer Clinical Research and Patient Care, and deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. Jaffee is being recognized for her exceptional leadership, extraordinary record of service to the cancer community, and pioneering research discoveries, including the development of innovative approaches to antigen discovery and the identification of two novel pancreatic cancer proteins that are promising targets for immunotherapy, mesothelin and Annexin A2.
Jaffee’s award lecture will be held on Monday, April 17, at 4:45 p.m. ET.
AACR Team Science Award: African Caribbean Cancer Consortium Team
This award recognizes 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 African Caribbean Cancer Consortium Team is being recognized for their collective contributions to addressing cancer and health disparities by furthering the study of viral, genetic, environmental, and lifestyle risk factors for cancer in patient populations of African descent that have demonstrated far-reaching implications for the improvement of cancer etiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention in Black patient populations worldwide.
The team members are:
- Camille Ragin, PhD, MPH, Team Leader (Photo)
- Kellie Alleyne-Mike, MD
- Kimlin T. Ashing, PhD
- Aviane Auguste, PhD
- Rishika Banydeen, MPH
- Raleigh Butler, MD
- Samuel Gathere, MD
- Sophia George, PhD
- Natalie S. Greaves, PhD
- Tamara Green, MD
- Darron A.C. Halliday, MD
- Maria D. Jackson, PhD
- Patricia D. Jones, MD
- Rukia Kibaya, MSc
- Evans Kiptanui, MS
- Anne C. R. Korir, MPH
- Delroy M. Louden, PhD
- Valerie Odero-Marah, PhD
- JoAnn S. Oliver, PhD, RN, CNE, FAAN
- Veronica Roach, SRN, SCM
- Robin Roberts, MD
- Samuel T. Slewion, MA
- Charles G. Waihenya, MD
- Charnita Zeigler-Johnson, PhD, MPH
The team will be honored during the AACR Annual Meeting 2023 Opening Ceremony on Sunday, April 16, at 8 a.m. ET.
AACR-American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention: Patricia A. Ganz, MD, FAACR (Photo)
This award recognizes outstanding research accomplishments in cancer epidemiology, biomarkers, and prevention.
Ganz, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, is a Distinguished Professor of Health Policy & Management at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Fielding School of Public Health, Distinguished Professor of Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, and associate director for population science at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is being recognized for her steadfast commitment to enhancing cancer prevention, characterizing late effects of cancer treatment, and instrumental contributions to improving the field of cancer patient survivorship through advocacy efforts to establish guideline and policy changes that have positively impacted cancer patient symptom management, supportive care, and quality of life.
Ganz’s award lecture will be held on Monday, April 17, at 4:15 p.m. ET.
This award recognizes an active scientist whose outstanding and innovative research has had a major impact on the cancer field and has the potential to stimulate new directions in cancer immunology.
Wherry is chair of the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics, director of the Institute for Immunology, and founding director of the Immune Health Project in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is being recognized for his essential cancer immunology research findings dedicated to defining the genetic and epigenetic control mechanisms of T-cell exhaustion that have contributed to the elucidation of PD-L1 blockade and helped guide the development of immunotherapy treatments for cancer patients, including several FDA-approved checkpoint inhibitor therapies for multiple cancer indications.
Wherry’s award lecture will be held on Monday, April 17, at 3:30 p.m. ET.
AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Award for Outstanding Basic Cancer Research: M. Celeste Simon, PhD, FAACR (Photo)
This award is intended to recognize an individual who has made outstanding recent accomplishments in basic cancer research.
Simon, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, is the Arthur H. Rubenstein, MBBCh, Professor in Cell and Developmental Biology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the scientific director at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and associate director, shared resources, at the Abramson Cancer Center. She is being recognized for her lauded research contributions that have informed the understanding of cancer metabolism, oxygen biology, and tumor hypoxia resulting in the development of murine cancer models and the elucidation of the role of hypoxia-inducible factor-2 alpha in tumorigenesis, which has since led to the development of the FDA-approved therapeutic belzutifan for the treatment of von Hippel–Lindau disease-associated renal cell carcinoma.
Simon’s award lecture will be held on Sunday, April 16, at 3 p.m. ET.
This award acknowledges an individual whose outstanding personal innovation in science and whose position as a thought leader in fields relevant to cancer research has the potential to inspire creative thinking and new directions in cancer research. The recipient is selected by the AACR President.
Schietinger is an associate member of the Immunology Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and an associate professor of Immunology & Microbial Pathogenesis at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. She is being recognized for her unparallel contributions to elucidating the fundamental cellular mechanisms of immune evasion, including demonstrating how antigen-specific T cells evade immune-suppressive mechanisms in normal tissues, which has subsequently fueled the development of innovative strategies for molecular and immune-based targeted therapies for the treatment of cancer.
Schietinger’s award lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 18, at 4:45 p.m. ET.
AACR-Joseph H. Burchenal Award for Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Cancer Research: Melissa M. Hudson, MD (Photo)
This award recognizes outstanding achievements in clinical cancer research.
Hudson is a faculty member, director of the Cancer Survivorship Division, associate director, Population Sciences, and The Charles E. Williams Endowed Chair of Oncology-Cancer Survivorship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She is being recognized for her unrivaled clinical research involving hematological malignancies affecting children, adolescents, and young adults that has led to the establishment of the St. Jude Lifetime Cohort Study. This ongoing study catalogues comprehensive clinical data from over 6,000 five-year survivors of pediatric cancer, information that continues to be translated into practice-changing guidelines for pediatric cancer survivors.
Hudson’s award lecture will be held on Monday, April 17, at 3 p.m. ET.
AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship: Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, FACS (Photo)
This lectureship recognizes an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of minority investigators in cancer research.
Vickers is the president and chief executive officer of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is being recognized for his celebrated contributions to the understanding and targeting of pancreas cancer metastasis, including work that has assisted with the development of minnelide, a pro-drug of triptolide for the treatment of pancreas and gastrointestinal cancers that is currently in phase II clinical trials. He is also being recognized for his steadfast commitment to leading research dedicated to understanding how to eliminate cancer and health disparities.
Vickers’ award lecture will be held on Sunday, April 16, at 3 p.m. ET.
AACR-Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship: Robert D. Schreiber, PhD, FAACR (Photo)
This award recognizes 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 Princess Takamatsu to multinational collaborations.
Schreiber, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, is the Andrew M. and Jane M. Bursky Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pathology and Immunology and director of the Bursky Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs at the Washington University School of Medicine. He is being recognized for his indelible research findings at Siteman Cancer Center that have led to an improved understanding of immune surveillance in cancer pathogenesis, including the definition of the physiologic roles and mechanisms of action of Type I interferon and Interferon gamma in cancer-associated immune responses, and for establishing the concept of “immunoediting” that has since fueled the development of cancer immunotherapeutics.
Schreiber’s award lecture will be held on Monday, April 17, at 5:30 p.m. ET.
This award recognizes an individual in any sector who has significantly contributed to any area of pediatric cancer research, resulting in the fundamental improvement of the understanding and/or treatment of pediatric cancer.
Delattre is the director of the SIREDO Oncology Center and the research unit director of the Cancer, Heterogeneity, Instability and Plasticity (CHIP) unit at Inserm/Institut Curie. He is being recognized for his paramount research dedicated to identifying the genetic drivers of pediatric cancer, including demonstrating the role of the EWS-FLI1 translocation in the onset of Ewing sarcoma and further characterizing the role of various somatic mutations in the pathogenesis of neuroblastoma and other pediatric solid tumors.
Delattre’s award lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 18, at 5 p.m. ET.
AACR-Waun Ki Hong Award for Outstanding Achievement in Translational and Clinical Cancer Research: Jun J. Yang, PhD (Photo)
This award recognizes a worthy cancer researcher who has conducted highly meritorious translational and clinical cancer research anywhere in the world and who has not yet reached 51 years of age at the time of the award presentation.
Yang is a faculty member, vice chair of the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, endowed chair in Pharmacogenomics, and associate director, Hematological Malignancies R32 Training Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He is being recognized for his inspiring contributions to genomic studies dedicated to analyzing therapeutic response rates in multiethnic pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia patient populations, which have resulted in the identification of a large number of genomic loci responsible for driving therapeutic response variability. These findings are now being leveraged to predict treatment efficacy and toxicity in pediatric cancer populations.
Yang’s award lecture will be held on Sunday, April 16, at 4 p.m. ET.
AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Lectureship: Cory Abate-Shen, PhD (Photo)
This award is presented to an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of women in science.
Abate-Shen is the Robert Sonneborn Professor of Medicine, professor of urologic sciences, pathology and cell biology, and systems biology in the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Institute for Cancer Genetics, and chair of the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Columbia University. She is being recognized for her pioneering research dedicated to discovering and defining the role of NKX3.1 as a master regulator of prostate differentiation and cancer initiation and progression, for generating unique and reliable murine bladder and prostate cancer models, and for steadfast commitment to serving as a leader, mentor, and supporter of women in cancer research.
Abate-Shen’s award lecture will be held on Sunday, April 16, at 4 p.m. ET.
Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research: Tak W. Mak, PhD, FAACR (Photo)This award is presented to a scientist of international renown who has made a scientific discovery in basic or translational cancer research.
Mak, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, is a senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, as well as a university professor in the departments of medical biophysics and immunology at the Temerty Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a professor in the department of pathology at the University of Hong Kong. He is being recognized for fundamental contributions to the fields of immunology, cancer biology, and cancer therapy, including cloning the beta chain of the human T-cell receptor and creating genetically modified mouse strains to elucidate the role of the immune system in tumorigenesis. He also characterized two novel kinases, PLK4 and TTK, now promising targets in Phase II clinical trials, and CTLA-4, a negative regulator of T-cell activation, later applied to the development of immune checkpoint blockade therapy.
Mak’s award lecture will be held on Sunday, April 16, at 12 p.m. ET.
AACR June L. Biedler Prize for Cancer Journalism
This award is presented to professional journalists who have produced accurate, informative, and compelling stories about cancer and cancer research. The award is named after June L. Biedler, PhD, a distinguished scientist and dedicated member of the AACR, who cared deeply about educating the lay public about the importance of cancer research.
The winners of the 2023 AACR June L. Biedler Prize for Cancer Journalism are:
- “‘No Mercy’ Chapter 5: With Rural Hospital Gone, Cancer Care Means a Daylong Trek”
By Sarah Jane Tribble (Photo), Taunya English (Photo), Kaiser Health News
Greg Munteanu (Photo), Saint Louis Public Radio
- “One Man’s Search for the DNA Data That Could Save His Life”
By Sarah Elizabeth Richards (Photo), WIRED
- “They found a lump. Doctors said not to worry. These are the stories of men with breast cancer.”
By David Oliver (Photo), USA Today
- “With Bab AlHawa Border Closed, Syrians Are Deprived of Cancer Treatment”
By Ali Al Ibrahim (Photo), Raseef22 and SIRAJ
- “The trust-builder: a cancer center director’s try-it-all strategy for breaking the barriers between research and Black patients”
By Angus Chen (Photo), STAT News
- “Chadwick Boseman’s tragedy is America’s tragedy: In colorectal cancer hot spots, young men are dying at higher rates”
By Nicholas St. Fleur (Photo), STAT News
The winners of the AACR June L. Biedler Prize for Cancer Journalism will be honored during the AACR Annual Meeting 2023 Opening Ceremony on Sunday, April 16, at 8 a.m. ET.