In This Section

Douglas R. Lowy, MD, FAACR, Honored With 2021 AACR-Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research

PHILADELPHIA – The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will honor Douglas R. Lowy, MD, FAACR, with the 2021 AACR-Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research during the virtual AACR Annual Meeting 2021.

Lowy is chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, head of the signaling and oncogenesis section, and principal deputy director at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Lowy is being honored for his exceptional leadership at the NCI since 2010, his seminal research that contributed to the development of three HPV vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and his contributions to the National Institutes of Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dr. Lowy’s commitment to public service and public health is highly commendable,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “His leadership and scientific accomplishments have undoubtedly saved lives. As a result of his research, we have highly effective HPV vaccines that can prevent several types of cancer. Moreover, his work at the NCI as principal deputy director and previously as acting director has helped the agency to remain at the forefront of cancer research and care.  We congratulate Dr. Lowy on receiving this honor.”

The AACR-Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research was established in 2007 in honor of Foti for her exemplary leadership of the AACR, and for her sustained, extraordinary dedication to the conquest of cancer through research, scholarly publications, communication, collaborations, education and training, fundraising for cancer research, and science policy. This award is given to an individual whose leadership and extraordinary achievements in cancer research have made a major impact in the field.

Lowy is known for his trailblazing research on the molecular biology of the RAS oncogene, elucidation of the molecular genetics of papillomaviruses, and, in partnership with John T. Schiller, PhD, the development of the immunogenic L1 virus-like particle (VLP) technology that underpins three FDA-approved HPV vaccines. These vaccines have led to substantial herd immunity against the most common cancer-causing HPV variants in the United States. Lowy and his team are currently researching the efficacy of single versus two doses of HPV vaccines, which may have the potential to make HPV vaccination more feasible for underserved populations.

As acting director of the NCI from 2015 to 2017, Lowy led innovative and ambitious government initiatives such as the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) and the Cancer Moonshot. The first-of-its-kind PMI MATCH trial has been the fastest accruing NCI clinical trial in history. Results from this trial have led to FDA approvals and have provided the data and rationale to support expanded uses for several approved therapeutics.

Lowy has been an effective advisor in the area of cancer research funding, initiating large support grants for NCI-designated Cancer Centers and increasing the NCI’s investment in health disparities and pediatric oncology research. He has also been a tireless supporter of investigator-initiated research. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lowy led the laboratory evaluating various SARS-CoV-2 commercial antibody testing devices submitted to the FDA. He was also appointed as co-chair of the SARS-CoV-2 Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) Vaccine Work Group, which has published authoritative articles on topics such as the importance of enrolling high-risk participants and underrepresented minorities in COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Lowy has been a member of the AACR since 2001 and was elected as a Fellow of the AACR Academy in 2015. In 2020, Lowy was awarded an AACR Distinguished Public Service Award and in 2007, Lowy won the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research. Lowy has served on the editorial board for the AACR journal Cancer Discovery since 2011.

Throughout his career, Lowy has received numerous scientific honors and awards, including the Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award in 2017. Other honors include the AACI Distinguished Scientist Award (2019), the Science of Oncology Award and Lecture from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (2018), the Harrington Prize for Innovation in Medicine (2015), the U.S. Presidential National Medal of Technology and Innovation (2014), the Research and Hope Award for Academic or Public Research from the NCI (2013), the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute (2011), the Distinguished Medical Science Award from the Friends of the National Library of Medicine (2009), the Medal of Honor for Basic Research from the American Cancer Society (2007), the Nathan Davis Award from the American Medical Association (2007), the Clinical Immunology Prize from Novartis (2007), the Humanitarian Award from the American Skin Association (2007), and the Federal Employee of the Year Service to America Medal, Partnership for Public Service (2007). Lowy is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (2019), the National Academy of Sciences (2009), and the Institute of Medicine (2003).

Lowy received his medical degree in 1968 from the New York University School of Medicine.

Lowy’s award lecture will be available for on-demand viewing through the virtual AACR Annual Meeting 2021 platform.