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Rafi Ahmed, PhD, to Present 2024 AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lecture

PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will award the 20th AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship to Rafi Ahmed, PhD, during the AACR Annual Meeting 2024 to be held April 5-10 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

Ahmed is director of the Emory Vaccine Center; a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar; the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Emory University School of Medicine; an investigator in the Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR); and a member of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta. He is being recognized for his illuminating research achievements focused on immune cell function and the molecular mechanisms of immunological memory.

His unparalleled scientific contributions to immunology and vaccinology include the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of T-cell exhaustion and T-cell memory formation and differentiation following antigen exposure. This lectureship also recognizes Ahmed’s seminal demonstration that persistent viral exposure can result in PD-1-mediated T-cell exhaustion, and that anti-PD-1 antibodies are able to rescue normal T-cell function. His pioneering research has since been expanded to countless studies within the cancer research field dedicated to determining the cellular mechanisms by which T cells function. It has served as a vital catalyst to the ongoing emergence of immune-based therapies for the treatment of patients with cancer and various chronic diseases worldwide.

The AACR-Irving Weinstein Foundation Distinguished Lectureship was established in 2005 to acknowledge an individual whose outstanding personal innovation in science and whose position as a thought leader in fields relevant to cancer research have the potential to inspire creative thinking and new directions in cancer research. The recipient of this special lectureship is selected annually by the AACR President.

“Through the use of innovative animal models and novel cellular and molecular technologies, and the interrogation of human settings that can provide instructive immunobiologic insights, Rafi has laid the foundations not only for our understanding of how the immune system, and T cells in particular, provide protection from disease, but also how immunity can be modulated to overcome obstacles and better provide protection,” said AACR President Philip D. Greenberg, MD, FAACR. “His innovative studies on rescuing T-cell function by disrupting PD-1 signaling have ultimately revolutionized the therapy of many cancers and highlighted how the pursuit of fundamental biologic principles can have enormous therapeutic impact.” 

Ahmed has been an AACR member since 2003. He has received many awards in recognition of his scientific accomplishments, including the Association of American Medical Colleges Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences (2019), the Cancer Research Institute William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic Immunology (2017), the Robert Koch Award (2017), and the American Association of Immunologists Excellence in Mentoring Award (2015). Ahmed has been elected to several prestigious societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2021), the National Academy of Inventors (2018), the National Academy of Medicine (2014), the Indian National Academy of Sciences (2013), and the National Academy of Sciences (2009).

Ahmed earned his doctoral degree in microbiology and molecular genetics from Harvard University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation. He joined the faculty at Emory University in 1995.

The date, time, and title of his award lecture will be announced prior to the AACR Annual Meeting 2024.

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