Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), is the chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the first and largest cancer research organization in the world. Under her visionary leadership, membership has grown from about 3,000 members to over 48,000 in 127 countries and territories, and the AACR’s portfolio of peer-reviewed scientific journals has increased from one to nine.
After beginning her AACR career in an editorial position with the journal Cancer Research, Foti progressed through several key editorial and management roles in scientific publishing to become chief executive officer. She launched eight major peer-reviewed scientific journals: Blood Cancer Discovery; Cancer Discovery; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Cancer Prevention Research; Cancer Immunology Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Research; and Molecular Cancer Therapeutics. She also helped launch Cancer Today, a magazine for cancer patients, survivors, and their families and caregivers, as well as Leading Discoveries, a publication that highlights AACR members, programs, and philanthropic initiatives.
A graduate of Temple University, Foti is one of the most influential voices in advancing the field of cancer research, both in the United States and abroad. She was elected president of three professional societies in scholarly publishing and in cancer research. She has also served as a board member, committee member, and consultant to a number of other nonprofit organizations. There is a legacy of young women, minority scientists, and investigators-in-training whose careers have been advanced as a result of her mentorship and support.
Under Foti’s leadership, the AACR has served with distinction as the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). In this capacity, Foti and the AACR staff have brought significant expertise to their work with SU2C, especially in the scientific peer review of projects, scientific project management, grants administration, communications, and science policy.
Foti’s leadership was instrumental in the production of two landmark annual reports that highlight the critical need for increased annual federal funding for the government entities that fuel progress against cancer: the AACR Cancer Progress Report, which was first published in 2011 and celebrates the advances in basic, translational, and clinical cancer research which have had a major impact on therapeutic development and improved patient care; and the AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report, which was launched in 2020 with the overarching goal of increasing public understanding of cancer health disparities and of the vital importance of cancer health disparities research to saving lives.
Foti’s contributions have been widely recognized by numerous awards from organizations around the world. Her lengthy list of formal recognitions includes honorary degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Rome La Sapienza and the University of Catania in Sicily, and an honorary degree in medicine from the University CEU of San Pablo in Madrid. In 2019, she was honored as one of the Women of Inspiration and Influence by the Women Business Leaders of the U.S. Health Care Industry Foundation. She was also recognized with the 2018 Women for Oncology Award from the European Society for Medical Oncology, the 2016 PHL Life Sciences Ultimate Solution Award, the Ovarcome Excellence 2016 Award, the 2016 James Ewing Layperson’s Award from the Society of Surgical Oncology, the 2016 Honorary Member Award from the Oncology Nursing Society, and as a 2015 honoree of “the one hundred” by Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. Additionally, she received the 2015 Children’s Champion Award from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the 2014 Ellen V. Sigal Advocacy Leadership Award from Friends of Cancer Research, the 2014 Morton M. Kligerman Visiting Professorship Award from the University of Pennsylvania, the 2013 Stanley P. Reimann Honor Award from Fox Chase Cancer Center, and the 2013 Distinguished Partner in Hope Award during the Annual Colorectal Cancer Conference hosted by the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. In 2007, the AACR established the first AACR Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research, which is given annually in her name. Her visionary leadership, combined with her steadfast focus on the AACR’s mission, continues to drive the field forward towards the vital goal of preventing and curing all cancers.