In This Section

Personalized Career Conversations

Sunday, April 10, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. CST

Mardi Gras Salon D-E, New Orleans Marriott

We are no longer accepting applications.

Organized as a collaborative effort between the Associate Member Council (AMC), Minorities in Cancer Research (MICR) Council, Women in Cancer Research (WICR) Council, and the AACR Science Education and Career Advancement Committee, we are pleased to offer this opportunity exclusively as an AACR Associate member benefit to allow early-career researchers with the opportunity to meet one-on-one with esteemed cancer researchers to discuss science and obtain career advice. Each participant will have the opportunity to meet individually with two (2) senior investigators during the session. Programming will be available in the general session for participants while they are waiting for their conversation timeslot. The programming will include a panel with the session co-chairs on various topics related to the career development of early-career researchers.

Did you participate in this Professional Advancement Session during the AACR Annual Meeting? If so, don’t forget to complete the session evaluation and share your feedback with us! Your input will help us shape additional professional development-related sessions and programming. Share your feedback!


Session Co-Chairs:

Antonio T. Baines, PhD, North Carolina Central University, Durham, North Carolina  

Victoria M. Richon, PhD, Ribon Therapeutics, Inc., Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts 

Danny R. Welch, PhD, University of Kansas Cancer Center, Kansas City, Kansas 

The AACR Annual Meeting has always offered a variety of unique opportunities for individuals to meet other cancer research experts, but it can be intimidating for early-career scientists to walk up to a senior scientist at a conference and try to start a conversation. Exclusively for early-career Associate Members who are graduate students, medical students and residents, and clinical and postdoctoral fellows, this unique session allows participants to pre-register for the opportunity to individually speak with two (2) preferred senior scientists for 15-minutes each at the AACR Annual Meeting 2022. Programming will be available in the general session for participants while they are waiting for their conversation timeslot. The programming will include a panel with the session co-chairs on various topics related to the career development of early-career researchers.

One-on-one opportunities are available to meet with scientists who can speak to:

  • Transitioning from a career in academia to industry
  • Experimental therapeutics and clinical drug development
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Epidemiology
  • Immunology
  • Pediatrics
  • Careers within academia, the federal government, industry, and/or nonprofits
  • International academics and industry
  • Patent applications
  • And much more!

Space is limited and filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to the unique structure and format of this program, all participants must supply a copy of their curriculum vitae (CV) and confirm that they will be  available to participate once paired with their senior scientist(s). Once confirmed, any individual who does not show up for their meeting may be disqualified from participating in future similar opportunities and applications.

We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity for one-on-one with leaders in the field that is exclusive to early-career Associate Members by registering for this session, today.

2022 Participating Senior Scientists

James P. Allison, PhD, FAACR

James P. Allison, PhD, FAACR

Chairman, Immunology Program

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, Texas

A globally recognized immunologist, Dr. Allison studies the molecular mechanisms of T-cell receptor activation and the downstream signal transduction events capable of affecting immune function. This research focus led him to discover CTLA-4, an immune system inhibitory checkpoint molecule expressed by T cells. His lab has since developed an antibody against CTLA-4 that inhibits tumor growth in mice, research which resulted in the development of the monoclonal antibody, ipilimumab, the first drug able to improve survival rates of metastatic melanoma patients.

Ipilimumab received FDA approval as a treatment for metastatic melanoma in 2011 and functions by specifically blocking CTLA-4, subsequently allowing the immune system to recognize and attack cancerous cells. Dr. Allison calls this mechanism of action, “immune checkpoint blockade,” and believes that by combining targeted therapies with checkpoint blockade inducers, one can turn cancer ‘s genomic instability, which it uses to build resistance to drugs, against it. He is now applying this approach to a variety of cancers through his leadership of the Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team, “Immune Checkpoint Blockade and Adoptive Cell Transfer in Cancer Therapy”.

Aside from his work involving CTLA-4, Dr. Allison is also credited with discovering the T-cell antigen receptor as well as the co-stimulatory molecule, CD28. These major discoveries have cemented Dr. Allison’s status as a leader in the fields of immunology and immunotherapeutics, active areas of research that continue to receive increased interest throughout the cancer research community.




City of Hope National Medical Center 

Los Angeles, California 

Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, is president of the City of Hope National Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. He also holds the Deana and Steve Campbell Physician-in-Chief Distinguished Chair. 

Prior to his appointment at City of Hope in February of 2018, Dr. Caligiuri was The CEO of The Ohio State University (OSU) James Cancer Hospital (2008-2017) and director of OSU’s Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC; 2003-2017); he served as the director of OSU’s Division of Hematology-Oncology from 2000 through 2008. 

Dr. Caligiuri is a physician–scientist whose basic and translational work has focused on immunotherapy for both liquid and solid tumors. His laboratory has studied human natural killer (NK) cells for 35 years with over 400 original peer-reviewed publications on NK cells and/or cancer. Pivotal discoveries from the Caligiuri laboratory have made it possible to bring chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) NK cells from the laboratory into the clinic for cancer therapy. These include proprietary retroviral transduction of human NK cells, the elucidation of the site, stages, cytokines and molecular mechanisms involved in the differentiation of human NK cells from CD34(+) hematopoietic stem cells, and the discovery of IL-15 as the key cytokine for human NK cell development, survival, growth, and activation. These three discoveries alone have been critical for the genesis of CAR NK cells from peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Most all of this work was accomplished with his collaborator, Jianhua Yu, PhD. 

“Opportunity is inversely proportional to what is in place.”

“It’s not about how smart you are.” 



Professor and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine 

University of Michigan 

Ann Arbor, Michigan 

I am a trained gastroenterologist and physician-scientist. I see patients that are high risk for colorectal cancer, and teach medical students, research students, residents and fellows. My research has focused on the genetics of colorectal cancer, particularly DNA mismatch repair. My current projects explore the linkage of inflammation and inactivation of DNA mismatch repair. I also study cancer disparities. 

“Develop a focus that can be uniquely you over time. Luck favors those who can be recognized for their hard work and successes.”



Royce and Mary Trotter Chair in Cancer Research

Professor, Department of Urology

Co-Director, Institute for Translational Genomics

Director, USC Molecular Genomics Core

Co-Leader, NCCC Translational and Clinical Sciences Program

PI-CaRE2 Health Equity Center

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California

Los Angeles, California

Dr. Carpten is an internationally recognized expert in genome science and possesses unique training in multiple disciplines including germ-line genetics for disease risk and predisposition, somatic cancer genomics, health disparities research, cell biology, functional genomics, and precision medicine.

Dr. Carpten has received research funding awards from various sources to support his research including NIH, Prostate Cancer Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, and a number of pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Carpten has co-authored over 160 publications in scientific journals that include Science, Nature, Nature Genetics, Genome Research, Cancer Research, Molecular Cancer Research, Cancer Cell, and the New England Journal of Medicine.



Director, Health Disparities Research; Associate Dean, Mayo Medical School; Professor, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Jacksonville, Florida

Dr. Colón-Otero is board certified in hematology, medical oncology and internal medicine. He is the Associate Dean, Mayo Medical School, Florida campus, Professor Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Director of Health Disparities Research at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. He has served as Founding Director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program and Associate Program Director of the Internal Medicine Residency Program at the Mayo Clinic in Florida.

Dr. Colón-Otero currently practices hematology and medical oncology at the Mayo Clinic in Florida where he served as Chair of the Division of Hematology/Oncology for 15 years. His dedication to education has been recognized with the Mayo Clinic Educator Achievement Award, Course Educator of the Year Award and Mayo Clinic Internal Medicine Community Service Award.  He has served in multiple leadership roles at the Mayo Clinic including member of the Board of Governors, Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, Chair of the Diversity Committee, Chair of the Quality Committee among others. He is the Past President of the Florida Society of Clinical Oncology. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Community Hospice Northeast in Jacksonville, Florida and the American Board of Internal Medicine-Hematology.

Dr. Colón-Otero graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.Sc. in Mathematics and obtained his M.D. from the University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine with election to Alpha Omega Alpha. He completed an internship and residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Hematology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN as well as a fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the University of Virginia.



Regius Professor of Cancer Research. Head of Division in Clinical Studies

The Institute of Cancer Research

London, England

Professor Johann de Bono is a clinician-scientist and Regius Professor of Cancer Research at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), an independent college of The University of London, and The Royal Marsden Hospital. He is the Head of the Division of Clinical Studies at the ICR and Director of The Royal Marsden Drug Development Unit. He leads The London Movember Prostate Cancer Centre of Excellence and the Royal Marsden Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapies team. Professor De Bono is a world leader in prostate cancer research, having changed the treatment of prostate cancer multiple times through trials of abiraterone, cabazitaxel, enzalutamide and olaparib. He has led on the clinical development of multiple PARP inhibitors, including talazoparib, niraparib and olaparib; his work on PARP inhibitors for sufferers of advanced prostate resulted in the discovery that germline and somatic DNA repair defects are common in lethal prostate cancer. His group have also co‐led studies mapping the genomic landscape of advanced prostate cancer, also showing how circulating biomarkers (circulating tumor cells and circulating tumor DNA NGS) can be used for managing these diseases. His work has changed international guidelines on germline testing in men with advanced prostate cancer and has resulted in the first molecular stratification for this commonest of male cancers. He has also led on the clinical development of many other novel agents including the AKT inhibitor ipatasertib, ATR inhibitors, immunoconjugates and radioimmunoconjugates targeting for example PSMA, and multi‐specific antibody constructs. His group are grateful for grant support from multiple funders including Cancer Research UK and the UK NIHR, including funding to the ICR/RM Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC), Prostate Cancer UK and the Movember Foundation, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the V Foundation for Cancer Research, the John Black Charitable Foundation and the US Department of Defene.

“Cancer research is a hugely rewarding career. Collaboration and mentorship are key to a productive and fruitful service for cancer sufferers.” 

Caroline Dive, PhD

Caroline Dive, PhD

Interim Director and Director of the Cancer Biomarker Centre

CRUK Manchester Institute, University of Manchester

Manchester, England

Upon completing her PhD studies in Cambridge, Professor Caroline Dive moved to Aston University’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Birmingham where she established her own group studying mechanisms of drug induced tumour cell death, before moving to The University of Manchester to continue this research. Caroline was awarded a Lister Institute of Preventative Medicine Research Fellowship before joining the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute (CRUK MI) in 2003. Currently, she is interim director of the Institute and director of its Cancer Biomarker Centre, with research spanning tumor biology, preclinical pharmacology, biomarker discovery, biomarker assay validation and clinical qualification to regulatory standards, bioinformatics, biostatistics and most recently, digital clinical trials.

Caroline was awarded the Pasteur-Weizmann/Servier International Prize in 2012 for her Biomarker Research, the AstraZeneca Prize for Women in Pharmacology in 2016 and was presented with the 2019 Heine H. Hansen Lectureship Award by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC). She is an elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2015), Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society (2012) and Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences (2011). In 2017, Caroline was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to cancer research. Most recently, she became an elected member of EMBO (2020), received the first inaugural Johann Anton Merck Award in recognition for exceptional contributions to the field of preclinical oncology (2020), and was the recipient of the Mary J. Matthews Pathology/Translational Distinguished Service Award by IASLC (2021). Caroline is the current President of the European Association for Cancer Research (2020 – 2022).

“Read widely, look for emerging topics, get a rhino skin and enjoy your science!”



Chief Scientific Officer

IMV Inc.

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

Jeremy has had a long-standing, successful career in Big Pharma and Biotech. He started with Eli Lilly and Company in 1998, focused on prostate cancer progression. By the mid-2000s, he was pulled into a clinical/ translational role and ultimately built and led Lilly’s translational oncology team. He was recruited away to lead the research group at a small Biotech, Biothera Pharmaceuticals, in 2014. As chief scientific officer, he led a remarkable team developing a novel innate immune activator for cancer therapy. Later, as president and CSO of Biothera, he helped orchestrate the sale of this agent and the Biothera team to HiberCell, Inc., in 2020 where he then served until recently as chief development officer. Academically, Jeremy received his PhD from the University of Kentucky, studying the translation initiation factor 4E in ras-induced malignancy. His post-doctoral fellowship in Dr. Steve Baylin’s lab at Johns Hopkins University focused on the epigenetic silencing of metastasis suppressor genes. He has published 60 research manuscripts that have garnered more than 21,000 citations. He has been a grant review panelist for the DoD, NIH/NIDDK, ACS and Genome Quebec. He has been an editor for Cancer Research for more than a decade and serves as a trustee for the non-profit cancer research lab, Wood Hudson. 

“Be open to opportunity, leverage your natural curiosity as a scientist and remain true to your core scientific self.” 

Christy R. Hagan, PhD

Christy R. Hagan, PhD

Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 

University of Kansas Medical Center 

Kansas City, Kansas 

My lab studies the role of hormones in breast cancer. In particular, we are interested in how the ovarian steroid hormone, progesterone, works together with its receptor, the progesterone receptor (PR), to influence breast cancer biology. Mounting clinical data continues to implicate progesterone and PR in breast cancer progression. Upon diagnosis, nearly 70% of breast cancers express PR and the estrogen receptor (ER). In contrast, only 7-10% of normal luminal epithelial cells express ER and PR. ER action in breast cancer has been well studied and as a result, ER has proven to be an excellent target for current endocrine-based therapies. However, despite convincing clinical trial data implicating progesterone in the development of invasive breast cancer, the role of progesterone/PR in breast cancer has been largely understudied. Despite maintaining receptor (ER/PR) expression, many breast cancer patients eventually progress to hormone-independence, failing current (largely ER/estrogen based) endocrine therapies. Therefore, ER-independent functions of PR are of great clinical interest.



Chair, Cancer Biology & Genetics Program 

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center 

New York, New York 

Scott W. Lowe is chair of the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in New York City and an Investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Lowe received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He initiated his independent research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where his group made important contributions to our understanding of the p53 tumor suppressor network, as well as the processes of multi-step carcinogenesis, cellular senescence, and tumor-cell drug resistance. At MSKCC, his laboratory applies mouse models, functional genomics and cancer genomics in a coordinated effort to identify cancer drivers and dependencies. These efforts have revealed fundamental insights into cancer mechanisms and identified potential therapeutic targets. Dr. Lowe’s work has been recognized by several awards, including a Sidney Kimmel Scholar Award, a Rita Allen Scholar Award, the Outstanding Investigator Award and G.H.A. Clowes Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, the Paul Marks Prize, and the Alfred G. Knudsen Award from the NIH. He has also been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Medicine.

“Establishing an interactive environment is key to success.” 



Chief, Department of Breast Surgery

Weill Cornell Medicine

New York, New York

Dr. Lisa Newman is a surgical oncologist with a practice dedicated to breast cancer management. In August 2018 she was appointed to oversee the breast program for the Weill Cornell Medicine-New York Presbyterian Hospital Network, serving its Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn sites. Previously, she worked at the Henry Ford Health System, where she served as breast program director, covering multiple hospitals throughout Michigan since 2015. She is also the founding medical director for the International Center for the Study of Breast Cancer Subtypes, which became headquartered at Weill Cornell Medicine with Dr. Newman’s recruitment. Dr. Newman holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Harvard University, and she also obtained her undergraduate education at Harvard University with a major in chemistry. She attended medical school and completed her general surgery residency training at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Dr. Newman was recruited to remain at Downstate following completion of her postgraduate training, and served as an assistant professor of surgery with this program for several years. She pursued fellowship training in surgical oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center 1997-99, followed by joining the faculty as an assistant professor; she continues to hold an adjunct professorship with MD Anderson. After leaving the University of Michigan she was appointed adjunct professor in the UM Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She also served previously as associate director for the Walt Breast Center at Wayne State University/Karmanos Cancer Institute for two years.

Jeffrey Settleman, PhD

Jeffrey Settleman, PhD

Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer, Oncology Research and Development 

Pfizer, Inc.  

La Jolla, California  

Cancer biologist with more than 30 years of research and leadership experience in academia and industry. Training at U. Penn, Yale, and MIT; Professor at Harvard Medical School 18 years; Scientific Director, MGH Cancer Center. Industry leadership roles at Genentech, Calico Life Sciences, and Pfizer 11 years. Extensive experience in cancer biology, translational science, personalized cancer medicine, and drug discovery, with particular interests in tumor cell genomics, epigenetics, signal transduction, drug resistance, tumor heterogeneity, immuno-oncology, cancer metabolism, target discovery and validation, innovative approaches to drug discovery, and novel technologies. Always seeking new therapeutic paradigms in oncology with the explicit objective of raising the bar for “success” by pursuing potentially curative drug treatments for lethal cancers.



Professor, Medical Oncologist, Director of Phase I Program

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Siu is a senior medical oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre since 1998, and has been a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto since 2009. She is the director of the Phase I Program and co-director of the Bras and Family Drug Development Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and holds the BMO Chair in Precision Genomics (2016-2026). She is also the clinical lead for the Tumor Immunotherapy Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Dr. Siu has served on the Board of Directors for both the AACR and ASCO. Dr. Siu’s major research focus is in the area of new anticancer drug development, particularly with respect to phase I trials and head and neck malignancies. She is the principal investigator of a phase I cooperative agreement UM1 award sponsored by the United States National Cancer Institute. In addition to her active research in early phase clinical trials, she has been leading genomics initiatives and immuno-oncology trials at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

Internationally, she has been awarded the TAT 2020 Honorary Award for contributions in the development of anticancer drugs. She was co-chairperson of the Scientific Committee for the 2012 AACR meeting and co-chairperson for the Clinical Trials Committee 2015-2017. Dr. Siu has published over 370 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and she is currently the co-editor-in-chief for AACR’s Cancer Research Communications, and she on the editorial board for JAMA Oncology, Cell and Cancer Cell.

“I would like to share the 3 Cs that have helped me tremendously through my career – Curiosity, Courage, and Compassion.”

Paz J. Vellanki, MD, PhD

Paz J. Vellanki, MD, PhD

Medical Oncologist

FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

Silver Spring, Maryland

I am a board-certified oncologist and I work at the FDA reviewing clinical trials for thoracic and head and neck cancers. I also care for patients with head and neck cancer in a clinic at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine. My interests include cancer genetics, precision medicine, and drug development.



Professor-Director of Biomedical Research

Tuskegee University

Tuskegee, Alabama

Dr. Clayton Yates is an internationally recognized expert in prostate cancer health disparities research, cell biology, molecular biology, and molecular pathology. Dr. Yates earned his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Department of Pathology. He then went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University School of Medicine Department of Urology. After completing his post-doctoral training in 2007, Dr. Yates accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at Tuskegee University in the Department of Biology and Center for Cancer Research.

Dr. Yates was promoted to associate professor in 2010 and full professor in 2014. Dr. Clayton Yates currents holds appointments in the Center for Cancer Research, and a joint appointment Materials Science and Engineering at Tuskegee University. He is also adjunct faculty at Clark Atlanta University Department of Biology and Department of Pathology at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Dr. Yates has an interest prostate and breast cancer research, particularly in African Americans. Dr. Yates has established several cell lines based models derived from African American patients that are used by many labs today to study molecular events the lead prostate cancer development and metastasis. Additionally, Dr. Yates has identified multiple biomarkers for the prediction of aggressive cancers in African Americans with prostate or breast cancer, and this has led to the development of a novel therapeutic for African American breast, prostate, and pancreatic patients.

Dr. Yates has also received numerous research honors and awards, authored over 80 peer-reviewed publications, participated in numerous Department of Defense and NIH study section panels, and received numerous DOD and R level NIH grants in prostate and breast cancer health disparities, totaling over 30 million dollars in extramural funding. Dr. Yates is currently the research director for the Transatlantic Prostate Cancer Consortium, which is focused on understanding the tumor biology in native African men in Nigeria and developing novel clinical interventions for this population. Dr. Yates is currently the principal investigator (PI) of the Research Centers at Minority Institutions (RCMI), site PI of CTSA (jointly with UAB-hub institution), and co-PI of U54 Cancer Health Disparities with Morehouse School of Medicinal and University of Alabama at Birmingham.

“Develop a supportive mentoring and collaboration team and stay focused.”