Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MBBS, FACP, OON, FAACR

Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MBBS, FACP, OON, FAACR

Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics
Dean for Global Health
Senior Fellow, Institutes of Genomics and Systems Biology
Senior Fellow, Computational Institute
The University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of Chicago Medicine
Chicago, Illinois

Vision Statement

The AACR must accelerate the path to new discoveries in cancer treatment and prevention. Our mandate—to address the global burden of cancer, expand the frontiers of cancer research, and promote health equity in the U.S. and around the world—means five things to me:

  1. Leading America to engage with international science partners;
  2. Increasing access for diverse young cancer researchers to gain access to rigorous training;
  3. Fostering the development and dissemination of new knowledge to impact cancer patients everywhere;
  4. Addressing racism in the biomedical research enterprise; and
  5. Advocating for policies and financial models which ensure that effective cancer medicines are affordable.

I am running for president during one of the most turbulent times in our history. We have confronted an unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic and an overdue momentum for racial justice following the death of George Floyd. The pandemic has already killed over a million people worldwide, including more than 370,000 Americans, and it has changed lives and lifestyles the world over. At the same time, this health crisis has also provided opportunities for collaborations between U.S. scientists and international researchers to discover cures and therapies at “warp speed.” Lessons learned during this pandemic could propel the AACR into its future role as the global leader for fostering innovative science and technology to deliver new interventions to end cancer as a cause of premature deaths in all national and international communities.

I am running for president during a pivotal moment in cancer research and therapy. Every day, over 18,000 people worldwide lose their battle with cancer. This number is only expected to rise. We must continue to strive to offer our patients unparalleled treatment in their fight against cancer and the hope of preventing it for others. As an American organization that is firmly networked around the globe, the AACR can lead the next frontier of scientific productivity and reduce the global burden of cancer—by bringing the brightest minds together to work towards developing preventative services, lifesaving treatments, and diagnostic technologies. We know that stronger research fuels better treatment, and vice versa.

For instance, armed with a better understanding of the human genome and access to affordable means of genetic testing for individuals, we can now use genomics as an enhanced means of cancer prevention and precision medicine. Likewise, with a shift toward preventative screening and services, we can reduce the prevalence of cancer and the burden it can impose by detecting it early and customizing treatment strategies. And as we seek to understand the etiology and risk factors for most adult cancers, we should be able to eradicate viral-associated cancers that we know are preventable by vaccines within the next decade. This is a goal we must strive for as we advance immuno-oncology and deploy innovative tools that integrate real-world data.

For all the challenges of this era, there are many reasons to be hopeful. As a better understanding of tumor biology has led to improvements in different cancers, and traditional pathologic evaluation is being complemented by more sophisticated genomic approaches, some of the once most lethal cancers can now be controlled. However, disparities in access and care threaten our scientific ambitions and our duty to improve care. Where you live and how much you earn should not determine whether or not you are represented in a clinical trial or receive a lifesaving treatment. If our collective advances are to benefit the most vulnerable in societies, we as a community of scientists must continue to fight for health care reform and treat access to care as a human rights issue.

I am running for president because I am an advocate at heart. As the burden of cancer continues to rise across nations, we must stand in solidarity as cancer warriors, fighting to effect real change in research policy, promote education and cancer awareness, support newly minted women and minority scientists, give patient advocates a voice, and stand side-by-side with our research community and patients the world over.

Research Interests

Treatment of breast cancer, especially in young or pregnant women; familial cancers; molecular genetics of cancer; cancer risk assessment and chemoprevention; breast cancer and minority populations; disparities in health outcomes.

Previous Positions

Senior fellow, Institute for Mind and Biology (2008-2011); associate professor (1998-2000) and assistant professor (1991-1998), Section of Hematology, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago; attending physician, Cook County Hospital (1987-1998); and clinical instructor, University of Illinois, Abraham Lincoln School of Medicine (1986-1987), Chicago, Illinois.

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral fellow, Section of Hematology/Oncology, University of Chicago (1987-1991); chief resident, medicine (1986-1987), and resident (1984-1986), and intern (1983-1984), internal medicine, Cook County Hospital, Chicago, Illinois; medical officer, Nigeria Navy Hospital (1981-1983), Lagos; and intern in medicine, surgery, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology, University College Hospital (1980-1981), Ibadan, Nigeria.

Selected AACR Service, Honors, and Awards

Elected fellow, AACR Academy (2013); cochair, Annual Meeting Program Committee (2019-2020); member, AACR Team Science Award Committee (2016-2018); member, International Affairs Committee (2015-2018); member, Annual Meeting Education Committee (2014-2015); member, AACR Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research (2012-2013, 2009-2010); recipient, AACR Distinguished Lectureship on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities (2011); scientific editor, Cancer Discovery (2011-present); recipient, AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship (2006); member, Science Policy and Government Affairs Committee (2004-2010); member, Board of Directors (2002-2005); member, Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council (2000-present); member, Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council (1994-present).

Selected Non-AACR Service, Honors, and Awards

Recipient, Order of Lincoln, State of Illinois (2019); recipient, Ron Ross Award, PacRim Breast and Prostate Cancer Group (2019); recipient, Global Visionary Award (2018); member, Board of Directors, MacArthur Foundation (2017); recipient, Villanova Mendal Medal Award (2017); recipient, NAPA Lifetime Achievement Award (2017); recipient, ASCO Humanitarian Award (2017); recipient, AORTIC International Recognition of the Highest Standard of Scientific Achievement (2015); member, Board of Directors, Susan G. Komen® (2014); recipient, Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Want Award (2014); recipient, Officer of the Order of the Niger, National Honor, Nigeria (2012); member, NIH/NCI National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) (2011); elected member, American Philosophical Society (2011); elected fellow, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) (2010); elected fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2010); elected member, National Academy of Medicine (2008); recipient, MacArthur Fellowship (2005).


MBBS with distinctions in pathology and pediatrics, University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1975-1980)