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Award Recipients Announced for the 2022 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), an SABCS cosponsor, will honor two researchers for their significant contributions to breast cancer research at the 2022 SABCS, to be held December 6-10, 2022.

2022 AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research

Charles M. Perou, PhD, is the recipient of the 2022 AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research, supported by Aflac Inc. This award was established to recognize outstanding science that has inspired, or has the potential to inspire, new perspectives on the etiology, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of breast cancer.

Perou is a professor in the Department of Genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also the co-director of the Computational Medicine Program, faculty director of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (LCCC) Bioinformatics Group, and co-director of the LCCC Breast Cancer Research Program. He is being recognized for his seminal contributions to our understanding of breast cancer biology and treatment and his pioneering research in cancer genomics. Using RNA expression profiling, Perou reclassified breast tumors into five biologically distinct subtypes. He established the prognostic applicability of these findings with the development of the 50-gene Prediction Analysis of Microarray (PAM50) assay, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to predict metastasis in a subset of breast cancer patients. He successfully identified the association of the PAM50 basal-like breast cancer subtype with triple-negative breast cancer and germline BRCA1 mutation-associated cancers. Perou was the breast cancer leader of The Cancer Genome Atlas Program, and he leveraged the database to discover that basal-like breast cancers are associated with molecular events that are genetically distinct from other breast cancers and possess similarities to similar genetic insults in ovarian cancer. Further, his finding that basal-like breast cancer is overrepresented in Black women has laid the foundation for understanding intrinsic subtype contributions to racial disparities in breast cancer outcomes.

Perou’s lecture, titled “Quantitative Medicine for Breast Cancer Patients,” will be presented on Wednesday, December 7, at 12:30 p.m. CT in Hall 3 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

2022 AACR Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research

Adetunji T. Toriola, MD, PhD, MPH, will receive the 2022 AACR Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research, supported by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This award was established to honor an investigator whose novel and significant work has had or may have a far-reaching impact on the etiology, detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of breast cancer. Such work may involve any discipline across the continuum of biomedical research, including basic, translational, clinical, and epidemiological studies.

Toriola is a professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. He is also co-leader of the Cancer Prevention Control Program and William H. Danforth Washington University Physician Scholar at the Siteman Cancer Center. He is being honored for his research dedicated to identifying molecular determinants of mammographic density and breast cancer risk that can be targeted in breast cancer prevention, especially in premenopausal women. Toriola was the first to report a positive association between the receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB (RANK) pathway gene expression and mammographic breast density in premenopausal women and demonstrated the potential utility of targeting the RANK pathway for primary breast cancer prevention in this patient population. Toriola demonstrated that plasma levels of RANK-pathway proteins could be used as biomarkers of mammographic breast density in premenopausal women, and that RANK ligand (RANKL) signaling is associated with mammographic breast density among such women with elevated progesterone levels. These findings helped to identify a subset of women who would likely benefit from RANKL inhibition to help prevent breast cancer.

Toriola developed a leading research program at the Siteman Cancer Center to identify additional targetable determinants of mammographic density, especially in premenopausal women. Further, he has established a platform to rapidly translate preclinical and clinical research findings into chemoprevention clinical trials in high-risk premenopausal women with dense breasts.

Toriola’s lecture, titled “Breast cancer prevention in premenopausal women: Accelerating transition from discoveries to clinical translation,” will be presented on Friday, December 9, at 8:30 a.m. CT in Hall 3 at the convention center.

“Congratulations to Dr. Perou and Dr. Toriola. Their seminal work is an exceptional example of the progress we have accomplished in breast cancer, as well as a roadmap for next steps to continue to improve cure rates for patients with breast cancer and those who are at risk of developing this disease,” said Carlos L. Arteaga, MD, FAACR, ex officio member of both award selection committees, co-director of SABCS, Past President of the AACR, and director of the UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.