Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University Health Network
Professor of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto
ColLeader, Acute Leukemia, Translational Research
Initiative Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
For discovering and characterizing the mechanisms by which stem cells contribute to normal and leukemic hematopoiesis.
The Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research was established in 1997 to annually recognize a scientist who has made a major scientific discovery in basic or translational cancer research. The awardee must be active in cancer research, have a record of recent noteworthy publications, and be conducting ongoing work that holds promise for continued substantive contributions to progress in the field of cancer.
Dick is widely recognized for his seminal discovery of leukemic stem cells and for developing the first hematopoietic xenograft assay using human hematopoietic cells transplanted into immune-compromised mice, a technique capable of giving rise to distinct blood lineages. Using this assay, Dick has developed xenograft models of human acute lymphoid leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia that have provided crucial insights into the onset and progression of such diseases.
Dick’s findings uncovered a gene signature of leukemia stemness that can be used to predict survival rates and response to treatment. In addition, this gene signature has provided actionable targets for drug development, led to the identification of preleukemic mutations in normal hematopoietic cells, and laid the groundwork for three drugs currently being tested in clinical trials. To learn more, please visit the press release.