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View the Program Planner and Meeting Abstracts

The Annual Meeting included a comprehensive educational program comprised of Educational Sessions and Methods Workshops. In addition to the Opening Ceremony, Opening Plenary Session, and other thematic Plenary Sessions, a new and exciting Discovery Science Plenary Session was provided.

The AACR Annual Meeting was presented virtually on the following schedule: 

  • Week 1: April 10-15, 2021. The first week featured the opening ceremony, plenary sessions, major scientific sessions, and award lectures. All proffered abstracts that were accepted for presentation—including clinical trials and late-breaking abstracts—were also presented in plenary sessions, minisymposia, and ePoster sessions during this week. 
  • Week 2: May 17-21, 2021. The second week featured educational sessions, methods workshops, meet the expert sessions, and professional advancement sessions. 

Access the online meeting planner to search sessions, presentations, and speakers.


Discovery Science Plenary Session: Mechanisms, Impact, and Exploitation of Cancer Chromosomal Instability – Dedicated to the Memory of Angelika Amon
Chair: Zuzana Storchova, TU Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Germany

Saturday, April 10; 9:30-11:30 a.m. EDT

Mechanisms driving the rapid evolution of cancer genomes
David Pellman, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

Chromosomal instability and tumor evolution
Samuel F. Bakhoum, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York

Exploiting genome instability for new cancer therapies: PARP inhibitors and beyond
Stephen P. Jackson, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

The causes and consequences of replication stress
Karlene A. Cimprich, Stanford University, Stanford, California

Opening Plenary Session: Discovery Science Driving Clinical Breakthroughs
Chair: Charles Swanton, The Francis Crick Institute, London, United Kingdom

Sunday, April 11; 10:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m. EDT

Following tumor evolution and metastasis with a single cell “molecular flight recorder”
Jonathan S. Weissman, Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Paired Presentation— Food for thought: A conversation about the role of diet in cancer
Matthew G. Vander Heiden, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Karen H. Vousden, The Francis Crick Institute, London, United Kingdom

Ancestry and cancer disparities: Genomic sequencing in diverse populations
Melissa B. Davis, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York

Epigenetic mechanisms of malignant clonal dominance and immune evasion
Mark A. Dawson, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, Australia

Igniting an antitumor immune response with cGAS
Zhijan James Chen, UT Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas

Probing the Dynamic Tumor-Host Ecosystem for Therapeutic Insights
Chair: Christina Curtis, Stanford University, Stanford, California

Monday, April 12; 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. EDT

Clonal hematopoiesis and evolution to hematologic malignancies
Ross L. Levine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York

Harnessing the value of mutational signatures in whole cancer genomes
Serena Nik-Zainal, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Pathology from the atomic scale on up
Garry P. Nolan, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

Immune contexture and tumor evolution in space and time
Jérôme Galon, Université de Paris, Sorbonne Université, Paris, France

Cancer Biology and the Changing Therapeutic Landscape
Chair: Sheila A. Stewart, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri 

Tuesday, April 13; 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. EDT

Targeting secreted factors in the tumor microenvironment for pancreatic cancer therapy
Tony Hunter, Salk Institute, La Jolla, California

(Re)emerging principles of cancer therapy
William G. Kaelin, Jr., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

Inherited susceptibility to cancer: From family reunions to the frontline of precision healthcare
Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chicago, Illinois

Exploiting cancer biology in developing new treatment paradigms: Examples of past, present and future directions in breast cancer
Dennis J. Slamon, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California

Leveraging the Immune System in the War on Cancer
Chair: Nina Bhardwaj, The Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York

Wednesday, April 14; 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. EDT

Transcriptional networks in tumor-infiltrating T cells
Anjana Rao, La Jolla Institute for Immunology, La Jolla, California

Targeting regulatory T cells in cancer: From mechanisms to new therapies
Sergio A. Quezada, University College London Cancer Institute, London, United Kingdom

On the road to synthetic immunity: Novel CAR designs
Michel Sadelain, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York

Twists and turns in translation of CD137 (4-1BB)-based cancer immunotherapy
Ignacio Melero, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain



  • Advances in Drug Delivery
  • Computational Methods for Immunogenomics and Precision Oncology
  • Diagnostic Tests for Immunotherapy: Current CLIA Lab Testing and Future Directions
  • DNA Damage Response (DDR) Treatment: Evolving Diagnostic Approaches, Understanding of Replication Stress, and Resistance Mechanisms to DDR Targeting Therapies
  • Hybrid Technologies for Cancer Imaging, Theranostics, and Image-Guided Interventions
  • Management of Toxicity of Immune Cell Therapy
  • Noninvasive Monitoring of Minimal Residual Disease with Liquid Biopsies: Toward Real-Time Treatment Decision-Making
  • Proton Therapy and FLASH Irradiation
  • Targeting Transcriptional Cyclin-Dependent Kinases in Cancer
  • Translational Canine Models Advancing Immunotherapy and Immunogenomics
  • Understanding and Overcoming Resistance to Third Generation EGFR and ALK Inhibitors


  • Advances in Endometrial Cancer
  • Advances in Sarcoma Therapy
  • Developing More Effective Treatments for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer
  • Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma
  • Emerging Concepts in Liver Cancer Research
  • Next-Generation Treatments for Melanoma: Building on Success
  • Pathways to Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer
  • Solid Tumor Brain Metastasis
  • Targeting Signaling Pathways in Colorectal Cancer
  • Therapeutic Advances in Biliary Tract Cancers
  • Therapeutic Vulnerabilities and Resistance Mechanisms in Estrogen Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer


  • Connecting the Tumor Microenvironment with the Macroenvironment in Cancer Cachexia
  • Interception of Preneoplasia
  • Molecular Targets of Precision Prevention and Interception
  • Panel on Rural Cancer Control
  • Radiation-Induced Cancers and Cancer Survivorship


  • Carcinogenic Exposures and Global Cancer Prevention
  • Pan-Cancer Distinctions in Tumor Biology across Ethnicity and Genetic Ancestry
  • Precision Medicine in Underserved Populations


  • Are Antitumor T Cells Exhausted or Dysfunctional? Does It Matter?
  • Are There Cancer Stem Cells?
  • Biostatistics Debate: Should Science Be Guided by P-Values?
  • Cancer Cell Dormancy: The Current Paradigm and the Challenges Ahead to Develop New Therapies
  • CAR T-Cell Therapy or T-Cell Engager?
  • Data Science and Machine Learning: Will They Revolutionize Cancer Cure and Research?
  • Embracing Entrepreneurship in Cancer Research
  • Microbiome Pandemonium: Checkpoints and the Microbiome
  • Patient-Derived Models for Cancer
  • The Myths and Realities of the Abscopal Effects
  • What Is the Role for Oncolytic Viruses in Cancer Treatment?


The Educational Program is an integral part of the meeting and provides attendees with an opportunity to expand their knowledge base. Meeting registrants will be able to purchase an Educational Program Pass granting access to the complete educational program of more than 65 unique sessions covering all areas of cancer research, including the popular multi-session programs noted below. 

  • Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy for Nonimmunologists. Annually, this two-part series combines a comprehensive review of a hot topic in the field with a roundtable session that enables attendees to participate in group discussions with leading experts in the field.
  • Chemistry to the Clinic. This three-part series provides attendees with foundational knowledge of critical elements of the drug development process, such as lead optimization, identification of targets, and drug modalities.
  • Clinical Trial Design. Over the course of three consecutive sessions, this Methods Workshop will provide attendees with a historical and methodologic understanding of clinical trials and demonstrate how to design an appropriate trial to answer the scientific questions presented by emerging treatments.

Policy Sessions

Decisions made by policymakers in Washington, DC, have a direct impact on cancer research and the progress being made against cancer in the United States and throughout the world. The AACR sponsors sessions with policymakers, academic researchers, patient advocates, cancer survivors, and industry representatives to foster dialogue about emerging topics in science and health policy, and regulatory science and policy.

  • The Science and Health Policy Track includes sessions that will provide attendees with an opportunity to learn about how policy impacts science and vice versa. Science policy sessions will examine the current political environment affecting federal funding for the NIH and NCI, including highlighting ways for scientists to get involved in advocating for robust, sustained, and predictable budget increases. Health policy sessions will explore how scientific evidence can inform policy on cancer prevention and control and what impact policies are having on patients and communities. Past health policy sessions have covered topics such as e-cigarettes and tobacco control measures, the Affordable Care Act, and ways to prevent and control pathogen-related cancers, such as increasing the use of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
  • The Regulatory Science and Policy Track includes informative sessions designed to highlight recent regulatory developments and provide an open forum for the consideration of issues that the FDA faces as the agency seeks to accelerate the pace of approval of safe and effective treatments for patients with cancer. These sessions offer an opportunity for attendees to discuss cutting-edge issues in cancer drug, biologic, and diagnostic regulation with stakeholders from academia, industry, advocacy, and government. Past regulatory science and policy topics have included strategies for increasing participation of underrepresented populations in clinical trials, guidance for using real-world evidence to support clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic, regulatory considerations for developing liquid biopsy tests, implications of site-agnostic therapy approval for drug development, and applications for artificial intelligence/machine learning in regulatory decision-making.
  • The Science of Survivorship Track includes sessions highlighting new and high-value areas of research to address the array of challenges facing longterm cancer survivors. Sessions invite trans-sector discussion among the survivor and advocacy communities, basic and clinical researchers, industry representatives, health care providers, and government officials. Past science of survivorship topics have included aging and cancer, long-term survivorship and vulnerable populations, development of new survivorship models, patient-reported outcomes, data sharing, and patient engagement.