Levi A. Garraway, MD, PhD, FAACR, to Receive 2022 AACR-Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research
PHILADELPHIA – The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will recognize Levi A. Garraway, MD, PhD, Fellow of the AACR Academy, with the 2022 AACR-Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2022 in New Orleans, April 8-13, 2022.
Garraway is executive vice president, head of product development, and chief medical officer of Hoffmann-La Roche and Genentech, and an adjunct professor at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is being honored for pioneering and championing the application of genomics to cancer research, diagnosis, drug development, and treatment, including landmark discoveries in the mechanisms driving tumor growth and resistance to therapy.
The award was established in 2007 in honor of Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR, for her exemplary leadership 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.
“Dr. Garraway has made remarkable contributions to cancer research, from foundational basic cancer research discoveries to drug development, precision oncology, and clinical practice,” said Foti. “He is a world-renowned leader in various sectors of the cancer field, and the AACR is extremely proud to bestow him with this richly deserved honor.”
Garraway has made crucial contributions to cancer precision medicine, including identifying genes involved in the pathogenesis of melanoma and in resistance to RAF and MEK inhibitors. Using SNP array-based genetic maps paired with gene expression profiles, Garraway identified amplification of the melanocyte master regulator MITF (microphthalmia-associated transcription factor), establishing its role as a melanoma oncogene. He subsequently led large-scale genomic studies of melanoma, prostate cancer, and other tumor types and described mechanisms of resistance to multiple targeted cancer therapies. Moreover, Garraway’s team described novel non-coding mutations in the telomerase gene (TERT) promoter region that generated de novo binding sites for erythroblast transformation-specific (ETS) transcription factors, thereby increasing the expression of TERT in melanoma cells. These TERT mutations have since been described as hallmark genetic events in several cancers, including bladder cancer, glioblastoma, and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Garraway’s research group was the first to describe adaptations of high-throughput genomic technologies to profile human tumors for actionable cancer gene mutations. This work was essential to establishing precision medicine approaches for cancer treatment. He later championed parallel sequencing as a definitive approach to tumor genomic profiling, simultaneously detecting mutations, copy number alterations, and rearrangements across hundreds of driver genes in clinical tumor specimens. This forward-thinking approach of genomics-driven cancer medicine has revolutionized both therapeutic strategies and the clinical trial design based on the genetic composition of patients’ tumors.
Garraway, an AACR member since 2005, was elected a Fellow of the AACR Academy in 2019. He served as a member of the AACR Board of Directors for the 2016-2019 term. He also served as a member of the AACR Council of Scientific Advisors from 2011-2014. Garraway has been involved in planning of a number of AACR conferences, having served as the AACR chair of the scientific committee for the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics (2015), cochair of the program committee for the AACR special conference “Advances in Melanoma: From Biology to Therapy” (2014), chair of the program committee for the AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved (2010), and a member of the scientific review committee for that meeting in 2008. He was a scientific roundtable mentor for the Minorities in Cancer Research Symposium (2008), and a member of the scientific review committee for the Second Annual Conference on Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development: Maximizing Opportunities for Personalized Treatment (2007). Further, he served as cochair of the Program Committee for AACR Annual Meetings in 2016, 2014, and 2009.
Additionally, Garraway has been active in numerous committees that address AACR initiatives, including serving as director (2015), cochair (2014), and lecture faculty (2008-17, 2019) for the AACR’s Molecular Biology in Clinical Oncology Workshop, and chair (2011-2012) and member (2009) of the Minorities in Cancer Research Council. Garraway was a principal investigator on the Stand Up To Cancer-Prostate Cancer Foundation Prostate Cancer Dream Team from 2012-2016. The AACR is the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer.
He has been honored with the AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Jane Cooke Wright Memorial Lectureship Award (2014) and has received the AACR’s Minority Scholar Award twice (2005 and 2001). He served on the editorial board for the AACR’s journal Cancer Discovery from 2011-2016. From 2010-2014 he served as a member of the AACR’s Publications Committee, which he also chaired from 2015-2016. Garraway has also served as a member of the AACR Clinical and Translational Cancer Research Committee (2012-2015) and AACR Special Conferences Committee (2013-2016).
Garraway has been celebrated with numerous honors and prizes, including an honorary doctorate from the Feinstein Institutes (2019), Vanderbilt University’s Levi Watkins Jr. Memorial Lectureship (2017), the Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute (2015) and the Society for Melanoma Research (2014), Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research (2013), Ohio State University’s Herbert and Maxine Block Award (2012), Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Partners in Excellence Award (2011), Massachusetts General Hospital’s Partners in Excellence Award (2003), and merit awards from the National Science Foundation and Merck (1991). In addition to being a Fellow of the AACR Academy, Garraway is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (2020), former president (2015) and member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010), and member of the Association of American Physicians (2016).
Garraway earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and his PhD in biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences simultaneously in 1999.