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Patricia S. Steeg, PhD, to Receive 2020 AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Lectureship

PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is honoring Patricia S. Steeg, PhD, with the 2020 AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship.

Steeg, codirector of the Office of Translational Resources and associate director of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is being recognized for her groundbreaking research on breast cancer metastasis, including the discovery of the first metastasis suppressor gene and development of a clinical-translational program dedicated to investigating brain metastases of breast cancer.

The AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Lectureship was established in 1998 in honor of renowned virologist and discoverer of the Friend virus, Charlotte Friend, PhD, for her pioneering research on viruses, cell differentiation, and cancer. This lectureship recognizes an outstanding female or male 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.

Steeg is best known for performing pioneering research on breast cancer metastasis. In 1988, she discovered the first metastasis suppressor gene, nm23 (NME). Her work demonstrated that the previously unknown NME gene is commonly downregulated in cells with increased metastatic potential. Steeg later cloned the NME family of genes and further characterized the biological and enzymatic activities of NME by conducting experiments in which she reintroduced NME into metastatic tumor cells. This innovative research has since helped to establish an entire field devoted to understanding the structure and function of metastasis suppressor genes. Steeg’s more recent research has been focused on investigating the biology of late-stage breast cancer and associated brain metastases. Specifically, her research lab is working to study the composition and function of the blood-tumor barrier in tumor metastasis, while also identifying signaling pathways and molecular targets that exhibit the capability to mediate brain metastasis.

In addition to her scientific achievements, Steeg has made it a priority to mentor female scientists at the NCI and beyond. Steeg received mentoring awards in 2005 and 2018 from the NCI, and merit awards in 1991, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016. As a Woman Scientist Advisor (WSA) at the NCI from 1993 to 1994, she participated in a comprehensive review of NCI salaries by gender, ultimately resulting in a pay increase for many female NCI employees. Later, she helped establish an NIH sexual harassment policy,  universal unconscious bias training for principal investigators, and targeted programs dedicated to enhanced training opportunities and career planning for women scientists.

Since joining the AACR in 1990, Steeg has served as the cochair for the Immunobiology of Primary and Metastatic CNS Cancer, part of the Multidisciplinary Science to Advance Cancer Immunotherapy Meeting (2018); a member of the steering committee for the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, for which she has also served as a longtime member of the scientific committee (2017); the chair of the Tumor Metastasis Section of the Tumor Biology Section for the Program Committee of the AACR Annual Meeting (2013); a member of the scientific review committee for the Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for Research in Personalized Cancer Medicine (2012-2014); a member of the writing committee for the AACR 2012 Cancer Progress Report (2012); a member of the program committee for the Tumor Metastasis Subcommittee of the Tumor Biology Section for the AACR Annual Meeting (2009), cochair of the education committee for the AACR Annual Meeting (2008); a member of the scientific review committee for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Grants for Translational Breast Cancer; a member of the Women in Cancer Research Council (2004-2007); cochair of the Tumor Progression, Invasion, and Metastasis Subcommittee for the Program Committee at the AACR Annual Meeting (2004); a member of the Associate Member Council for the Grant Writing Workshop (2003-2004); a member of the Program Committee for the AACR Annual Meeting (2003, 2000, and 1993); a member of the Publications Committee (2001-2004); a member of the AACR’s Scientist↔Survivor Program (1991-2001, 2010, 2012); cochair of the Molecular Aspects of Metastasis Meeting (1999); a member of the AACR Gertrude B. Elion Cancer Research Award Scientific Review Committee (1997); chair of the Invasion and Metastasis Subcommittee for the AACR Annual Meeting (1995); a faculty member for the Molecular Biology in Clinical Oncology Workshop (1992-1996), and a program committee member for the Molecular Genetics of Tumor Progression and Metastasis Meeting (1993). In 2012, Steeg was honored with the Emeritus Mentor Award through the AACR’s Scientist↔Survivor Program. She has served on the editorial board of the AACR’s scientific journal Cancer Research since 1995 and was the senior editor for the AACR’s journal Clinical Cancer Research from 2005-2007, deputy editor of that journal from 2007-2017, and a member of the journal’s editorial board since 2017. She also is an editorial advisor for the AACR’s magazine Cancer Today.

Among many other scientific achievement awards and accolades, Steeg has been awarded the Kurt Helman Translational Research Award from the Metastasis Research Society (2016) and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction (2008). Additionally, Steeg was recognized in 2012 with the Ellen Moskowitz and Suzanne Hebert Leadership Grant Award from the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, an honor that is specifically voted upon and chosen by breast cancer patients.