The AACR brings together people who have a united goal to cure cancer. Its global footprint realized through the Annual Meeting, thematic conferences, workshops, journals, grants, and scholarships has successfully fostered scientific advances spanning fundamental research to clinical trials. Collaborative initiatives such as AACR Project GENIE have enabled genomic and clinical data sharing on an international scale. Yet there are many valuable nonclinical and clinical datasets comprising positive or negative study results that need to be published and shared for greater learning. The AACR must continue to be a pioneer leading these efforts, catalyzing the scientific community worldwide to continue its quest for openness, innovation, inspiration, and impact. With its vast and diverse membership residing in 124 countries, the AACR has access to the brightest minds across borders and continents to tackle the complexities and challenges related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
As a physician-scientist in the field of anticancer drug development and precision medicine, I understand the importance of a dynamic engagement and exchange between basic, translational, and clinical research. Seminal discoveries in cancer biology, technical advances in molecular characterization, and emerging insights in the immune system, which are garnered at the bench by basic scientists, must be expeditiously translated to the bedside to improve patient outcomes. Translational and correlative science, clinical trials, and patient-oriented research, in turn, yield the critical knowledge needed to generate new biological hypotheses. Data science and artificial intelligence offer novel computational tools to analyze and deconvolute high-density information. The AACR must act as a nexus in this circle of integrative team science, connecting researchers, investigators, policymakers, funders, patients, caregivers, advocates, and survivors, to ensure that the most relevant questions are urgently addressed to improve cancer care and outcomes. Pivotal landmark legislation, such as the half-century old National Cancer Act and the more recent 21st Century Cures Act, has injected substantive federal funding to support cancer research. As one of the most authoritative voices in oncology, the AACR must continue its remit to advocate for moonshot efforts such as these, as well as for reliable annual NIH/NCI budget increases. The AACR will persist as a strong champion to raise awareness from the philanthropic community to provide sustained research support for scientists at all career levels.
Training and mentorship of scientists and investigators are critical to shape the future of cancer research, and educational efforts must target groups as early as high school and university undergraduate students to attract them to this rewarding field. The unmet needs and gaps of early, mid-career, and senior scientists are different; the AACR must reach out to all groups, irrespective of gender, race, and background, to understand how best to empower their careers, enhance research output, increase job satisfaction, and maintain work-life balance. Opportunities such as seed and bridge grants need to be expanded to encourage scientific scholarship. Leadership development courses and workshops should be developed by the AACR for individuals with the greatest potential to excel to be next generation stars. The most powerful weapons in the battle against cancer are the minds of researchers; thus the AACR must invest in its mission to educate. It is the collective wisdom of the scientific community that will ultimately bring cures to this disease.
Experimental therapeutics focusing on early phase studies of novel molecularly targeted and immuno-oncology agents; precision medicine; clinical trial design and methodology; development of relevant endpoints and biomarkers including circulating biomarkers; investigation of new drugs and treatment paradigms for head and neck malignancies; training and mentorship of junior investigators in anticancer drug development.
Professor of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; BMO Chair in Precision Cancer Genomics; Director of Phase I Program; Cancer Genomics Program; and Clinical Lead of Tumor Immunotherapy Program, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Tier I Research Chair in Experimental Therapeutics, Cancer Care Ontario (2009-2014); Director of Drug Development Fellowship Program (2006-2012); and Site Leader, Health Informatics Platform (2004-2006), Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Canadian Association of Medical Oncology Fellowship in Oncopharmacology, University of Toronto, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (1996-1997), Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Fellowship in New Drug Development, University of Texas Science Center at San Antonio (1997-1998), San Antonio, Texas.
Selected AACR Service, Honors, and Awards
Member, AACR International-Canada Board of Directors (2020-2022); Member, AACR Finance and Audit Committee (2019-2022); Member, International Affairs Committee (2018-2020); Member, Board of Directors (2017-2020); Member, AACR-Waun Ki Hong Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research Committee (2017-2019); Member, Publications Committee (2016-present); Member, Regional Advisory Committee on Canada (2016-2019); Member, SU2C/AACR Catalyst™ Initiative Grants Executive Committee (2016); Cochair (2016-2017) and Member (2015-2016, 2014-2015, 2012-2013), Annual Meeting Clinical Trials Committee; Cochair (2016, 2012) and Member (2014), Annual Meeting Program Committee; Member, Nominating Committee (2014-2016); Member, Women in Cancer Research Council (2013-2016); Chair, Landon Foundation-AACR Innovator Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research Committee (2012-2014); Chair (2012) and Member (2011), Annual Meeting Education Committee; Scientific Editor, Cancer Discovery (2011-present); Member, Clinical and Translational Cancer Research Grants Committee (2010); Member, AACR Henry Shepard Bladder Cancer Research Grants Scientific Review Committee (2009); Member, AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship Committee (2008); Cochair (2008-2010) and Faculty Member (2003-2007), Clinical Trials Design Workshop; Member, International Membership Committee (2002-2003).
Selected Non-AACR Service, Honors, and Awards
Recipient, Michael Hutcheon Mentor Award, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada (2017); Eaton Research Scholar Researcher of the Year, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada (2016); Honorary Professorships, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (2016-present); Member, Editorial Board, JAMA Oncology (2015-present); Member, Clinical Working Group, Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (2014-present); Cochair, Head and Neck Cancer Disease Site Committee, Canadian Cancer Trials Group (2014-present); Member, Board of Directors, American Society of Clinical Oncology (2012-2016); Cochair, Investigational Drug Steering Committee, Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, National Cancer Institute (2012-2014); Member, Scientific Advisory Board, Adenoid Cystic Cancer Research Foundation (2011-2019); Recipient, National Cancer Institute Michaele C. Christian Oncology Development Lectureship and Award (2010); Member, National Cancer Institute Subcommittee J: Career Development (2010-2012); Chair, American Society of Clinical Oncology Grants Selection Committee (2009-2010); Chair, Neuroendocrine Tumor Task Force, Gastrointestinal Cancer Steering Committee, National Cancer Institute (2007-2010).
FRCPC, Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology (1995); Certification in Community Health (1995); and MD (1991), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.