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Charles L. Sawyers, MD, Elected American Association for Cancer Research Academy President-Elect for 2020-2021

PHILADELPHIA — The Fellows of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) have elected Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR, as their President-Elect for 2020–2021. He was elected to the position in early June. He will assume the presidency during the 2021 AACR Annual Meeting.

Sawyers holds the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Chair in Human Oncology and Pathogenesis and is chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He is an attending physician at Memorial Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases in New York, a professor at the Joan & Sanford Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University, and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI).

As a world-renowned physician-scientist and leader in the development of targeted therapies for cancer, Sawyers investigates the signaling pathways that drive the growth and drug resistance of cancer cells. He played a critical role in developing the molecularly targeted cancer drug imatinib (Gleevec) for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. Sawyers’ research into treatments for cancer that becomes resistant to established therapies led to the development of dasatinib (Sprycel) for patients with imatinib-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia and enzalutamide (Xtandi) for metastatic prostate cancer that has become resistant to docetaxel.

As the AACR Academy President-Elect, Sawyers will work with the other members of the AACR Academy’s Steering Committee and other elected Fellows of the AACR Academy to provide ongoing advice and counsel to the AACR leadership on scientific topics of timeliness and significance as well as other matters of importance. Collectively, Fellows of the AACR Academy are charged with:

  • Identifying scientific priorities that contribute to the AACR’s programs and activities and thereby drive future progress in cancer research;
  • Influencing science and public policy by creating and/or signing letters addressed to members of the U.S. Congress and to the president’s administration regarding important scientific or policy issues as needed;
  • Advocating for increased federal funding for cancer research and cancer-related sciences;
  • Participating in special meetings to discuss how to accelerate advances in cancer research;
  • Mentoring the next generation of cancer scientists working in all research settings;
  • Assisting the AACR in educating the public about cancer, the importance of the AACR, and the value of cancer research to public health and the conquest of cancer.

Sawyers, an AACR member since 1997, was elected as a Fellow of the AACR Academy in 2014. Among his many contributions to the AACR, Sawyers served as the President of the AACR from 2013-2014 and as a member of the Board of Directors from 2003-2006. He conceptualized AACR Project GENIE and has served as chair of the AACR Project GENIE Steering Committee since its inception in 2015. He received the AACR-Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship (2019); the AACR Team Science Award (2015); the Dorothy Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Medicine (2009); and the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award (2005). Sawyers was associate editor for the AACR scientific journals Cancer Research (2000-2004) and Clinical Cancer Research (2002-2006). Additionally, Sawyers served as scientific editor for the AACR’s journal Cancer Discovery. He has served as program committee chair for the AACR Annual Meeting (2007); program committee chair for the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics Symposium (2003); program director for the AACR Aspen Cancer Course (2004-2009, 2017); and course director for the AACR Molecular Biology in Clinical Oncology Workshop (2004-2008).

Sawyers has been recognized with a host of other honors and awards throughout his career, including being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014), National Academy of Sciences (2010), and the National Academy of Medicine (2008). He is a member of the National Cancer Advisory Board for the National Institutes of Health. He received the NCI Alfred G. Knudson Award in Cancer Genetics (2020); the STAT Biomedical Innovation Award (2019); the Scheele Award from the Swedish Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2017); the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor for Clinical Research (2017); the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2013); the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award (2009); the Emil J Freireich Award for Clinical Research from MD Anderson Cancer Center (2007); the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2005); the Freedom-to-Discover Research Award in Cancer from Bristol-Myers Squibb; the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award (2001); and the Stohlman Scholar Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (2000).

Sawyers received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1985. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in 1988, and completed a fellowship in hematology and oncology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1991. Sawyers was a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA/HHMI from 1989 to1993.