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Personalized Career Conversations

Tuesday, May 18, 11:45 am-1:45 pm ET

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 one (1) senior investigator during the session plus have access to multiple other researchers for small group interactions and networking throughout.


Did you participate in a virtual Professional Advancement Session during Week II of the AACR Annual Meeting?
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Please contact us at [email protected] with any questions.


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 one (1) preferred senior scientists for 15-minutes each at the AACR Annual Meeting 2021.

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! Please contact us at [email protected] with any questions.

2021 Participating Senior Scientists

Adriana Albini, PhD

Adriana Albini, PhD

Scientific Director of Fondazione

IRCCS MultiMedica

Milan, Italy

Dr. Adriana Albini is the Scientific Director of Fondazione MultiMedica Onlus, Milan. She has over 300 scientific publications in peer review journals. She is among the most cited Italian women scientists with highest h Index (a measure of citations), with h index 76. Her major focus are microenvironment in vitro and in vivo models for angiogenesis and inflammation, mechanisms of invasion of tumor and endothelial cells. Her most recent interest is anti-angiogenesis in a chemopreventive setting. She was President of the Italian Society for Cancer Research (SIC) and President of Metastasis Research Society (MRS). She has a Ph.D in Chemistry and trained from 1985 to 1987 as a postdoctoral fellow at Max-Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsried bei Muenchen , Germany. From 1985 to 1987 worked as “Visiting Scientist” at NIH. From 1986 to 1996 she worked as deputy chief in the Department of Chemical Carcinogenesis (National Institute for Cancer Research) where in 1996 she became chief of the section “Mechanisms of Tumor progression”. From 1999 to september 2006 Dr. A. Albini was the head of Laboratory of Molecular Oncology. From June 2004 to September 2006 she was Deputy Chief of Intramural Research, National Institute for Research on Cancer, Genoa (IST). From January 2005 to september 2006 she was Director of the Department of Traslational Oncology. From 2006 at 2012 she is the Head of Oncology Research at Fondazione MultiMedica Onlus, Milan. From 2009 at 2012 she is Scientific Director of MultiMedica Medical Center Castellanza (VA), Italy. From April 2012 to August 2015 she is Director of Department “Research and Statistics Infrastructure” (I-RS) and Director of Translational Research Laboratory IRCCS “Tecnologie Avanzate e Modelli Assistenziali in Oncologia” – Arcispedale S. Maria Nuova – Reggio Emilia. She is member of the following editorial boards of scientific journals: Carcinogenesis, Cancer Research, Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Albini received various scientific awards.

J. Carl Barrett, PhD

J. Carl Barrett, PhD

Vice President, Translational Medicine Oncology


Waltham, Massasschuetts

Dr. J. Carl Barrett is Vice President of Translational Medicine in Oncology at AstraZeneca. He is responsible for development and execution of biomarker strategies and translational sciences efforts to support compound development from research through early and full development in oncology. From 2005-2011, he was Global Head of Oncology Biomarkers and Imaging at Novartis.

Dr. Barrett was the founding Director of the NCI Center for Cancer Research (CCR), the NCI intramural center for translation medicine. He was also Scientific Director at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences where he focused on integrating new approaches to toxicogenomics, molecular toxicology, and the Environmental Genome Project.

Dr. Barrett’s research focused on the discovery of the critical genetic and epigenetic changes in the cancer cell, in particular the discovery of genes involved in breast cancer (BRCA1).

Trained as a chemist at the College of William and Mary, he received his Ph.D. degree in Biophysical Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University. He has published over 600 research articles. He is a member of the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars, the Ramazini Foundation, an honorary member of the Japanese Cancer Association, and a recipient of multiple NIH awards and Keynote lectures.

Follow your passion. Be life long learner. Be great communicator.

Keywords: translational medicine, drug development

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD, FAACR

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD, FAACR

Professor Emerita, Biochemistry, and Biophysics

University of California, San Francisco

San Francisco, California

Throughout her long career in science, Dr. Blackburn has been a leader in the area of telomere and telomerase research, having discovered the molecular nature of telomeres – the ends of eukaryotic chromosomes that serve as protective caps essential for preserving the genetic information – and co-discovered the ribonucleoprotein enzyme, telomerase. She is also known for her championing of diversity and inclusion in the sciences. Currently, Dr. Blackburn and her UCSF research team continue their work with various cells (including human cells), with the goal of understanding telomerase and telomere biology. She and her research team also collaborate in a wide range of investigations of the roles of telomere biology in human health and diseases, through clinical and other human studies.

Born in Australia, Dr. Blackburn earned her B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the University of Melbourne, and her Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in England. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department at Yale University. Professor Blackburn has won many prestigious awards throughout her career including Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award for Basic Medical Research, and in 2007 was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Dr. Blackburn has served in many aspects of the science community throughout her career, including working to promote recognition of women in science.

Keywords: telomeres, telomerase, telomere biology, community outreach, women in science.

Johann S. De Bono, MBChB, FRCP, MSc, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB

Johann S. De Bono, MBChB, FRCP, MSc, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB

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

The Institute of Cancer Research

London, England

Professor Johann de Bono is 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 tumour cells; targeted NGS; low pass whole genome NGS) can be used for managing these diseases. This 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, multiple ATR inhibitors with his team showing that ATR inhibitors have clinical antitumor activity against ATM loss cancers, multiple immunoconjugates and radioimmunoconjugates targeting for example tissue factor and PSMA, and multi‐specific antibody constructs (eg targeting PSMA, albumin, CD3). 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 Defense.

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

Keywords: hypothesis testing, clinical trials

Joan S. Brugge, PhD, FAACR

Joan S. Brugge, PhD, FAACR

Professor of Cell Biology

Harvard Medical School

Boston, Massasschuettes

Dr. Brugge is currently the Louise Foote Pfeiffer Professor of Cell Biology at HMS and co-director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard. She joined the faculty of the Harvard Medical School as a professor in July 1997. A graduate of Northwestern University, she did her graduate work at the Baylor College of Medicine, completing her PhD in 1975. She then performed her postdoctoral training at the University of Colorado with Dr. Raymond Erikson. Dr. Brugge has held full professorships at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and the University of Pennsylvania, where she was also named as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 1992-1997 Dr. Brugge was a founder and scientific director of the biotechnology company ARIAD. She then joined the faculty in 1997 as Professor of Cell Biology, and was Chair of Cell Biology from 2004-2014 and Co-Director of the Ludwig Center at Harvard in 2014.

My career has followed an uncharted path that has been motivated by have been motivated by the desire to bring new insights into the cause and treatment of cancer. This overarching motivation is fed by my strong curiosity about how cells behave and the incredible thrill of discovering aspects of cell or tumor behavior that have never been recognized previously. I am also motivated by cancer patients who work together with my lab through foundations and generous gifts. They keep our lab focused on work that could make a difference for them. I am also inspired by the incredibly talented students and postdoctoral fellows in my lab who are the next generation of scientists – nurturing their strong interests in cell and cancer biology and preparing them to make important discoveries in the future is highly motivating. I have many recommendations for junior scientists starting their careers – way too numerous to elaborated in a brief quote!

Keywords: cancer initiation and progression, therapy resistance

Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, FAACR

Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, FAACR


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.

Keywords: Natural Killer Cells and cancer; immunology; immunotherapy

John Carethers, MD

John Carethers, MD

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.

Keywords: colorectal cancer, DNA repair, cancer disparities, leadership

John D. Carpten, PhD, FAACR

John D. Carpten, PhD, FAACR

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.

Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD

Marcia R. Cruz-Correa, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine & Biochemistry

University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Physician Scientist with a focus on gastrointestinal oncology, cancer prevention, hereditary cancer, clinical trials and health disparities. I have lead multidisciplinary GI Oncology Research Program and founded a NFP Clinical Research Organization to provide access to cancer therapies to community practices in Puerto Rico. Have been part of multiple professional organizations including current member of the AACR Governing board, and the MICR and WICR Councils. I am a firm believer of second chances, of pursuing your passion and contributing to achieve health equity.

Finding what makes you happy, focus on your strengths not your weaknesses, surround yourself with people of value, help nourished other’s lives and careers, promote and mentor others, it the right thing to do, and as you do, you will grow and become stronger. Is important to evaluate your plan, measure your outcomes and readjust as needed. I am constantly evaluating how I invest time, what are my priorities and how can I be more effective in all areas of my life. Know your core values, and make sure your life is in sync with those values, you will be happier and those around you too!

Keywords: treatment and prevention, cancer clinical trials, hereditary cancers, cancer genetics, leadership, and program development

Jessie M. English, PhD

Jessie M. English, PhD


Bakx Therapeutics, Inc.

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Dr. English is Chief Scientific Officer of Bakx Therapeutics, a start-up developing novel cancer therapeutics targeting apoptosis. Dr. English was most recently Chief Scientific Officer of Tilos Therapeutics which was acquired by Merck in 2019. Prior to Tilos she was Vice President and Head of Discovery Research Immuno-Oncology Translational Innovation Platform (IONC TIP) at EMD Serono/ Merck KGaA. Her previous positions include Head of Research at the Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, VP of Kinase Biology at ArQule, Oncology Site Lead for External Discovery at Merck and Head of Pfizer’s Kinase Center of Emphasis. Dr. English began her career in industry at Schering-Plough Research Institute in Oncology Discovery. Dr. English earned a BS in biochemistry at KSU, a PhD in neurobiology from UNC, and trained as a post-doc at UT Southwestern Medical Center where she discovered the WNK family of protein kinases and the MEK5 MAPK pathway.

Enjoy the science along the way. Build trust with colleagues..

Keywords: drug discovery, industry careers

Jeremy R. Graff, PhD

Jeremy R. Graff, PhD


OncoSpere Consulting, LLC

Indianapolis, Indiana

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 > 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

Keywords: translational oncology, immune oncology, biotech networking

Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, FAACR

Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, FAACR

Professor of Oncology

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland

Dr. Jaffee is an internationally recognized expert in cancer immunology and pancreatic cancer. She studies the role of the tumor microenvironment in regulating immune responses in mouse and human models. She also develops novel immunotherapies for the treatment and prevention of pancreatic cancer, and conducts “science in patients” studies to uncover mechanisms of both sensitivity and resistance to immunotherapies in pancreatic cancer patients. She is also the Deputy Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Co-Director of the Skip Viragh Pancreatic Cancer Center and Associate Director of the Bloomberg Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Dr. Jaffee is a Past President of AACR. She has served on a number of committees at the National Cancer Institute including co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Panel that provided scientific advice to Vice President Biden’s Moonshot Initiative and as Past Chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board. She is the inaugural Director of the new Convergence Institute at Johns Hopkins. She was recently elected to the National Academy of Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians.

Passion and focus for science, a balanced life, and a broad world view are the keys to success.

Keywords: cancer immunotherapy, pancreatic cancer, tumor micro-environment, national scientific leadership

Scott W. Lowe, PhD, FAACR

Scott W. Lowe, PhD, FAACR

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 Ph.D. 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.

Keywords: Cancer biology and genetics, Tumor suppressor genes, Cellular senescence, Mouse models of human cancer

Richard Marais, PhD

Richard Marais, PhD

Senior Group Leader, Molecular Oncology Group

Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute

Manchester, United Kingdom

Richard Marais is a Senior Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute in the UK. His BSc in Genetics and Microbiology is from University College London, and his PhD in biochemistry from Imperial College London. Marais is a world-leading melanoma expert who contributed to the discovery of the BRAF oncogene, which he validated as a therapeutic target in melanoma. His work on the BRAF kinase domain crystal structure revealed how cancer mutations activate BRAF, leading other to develop BRAF drugs that extend the lives of BRAF mutant melanoma patients. He discovered BRAF paradox whereby BRAF drugs unexpectedly activate CRAF in RAS mutant cancers, contributing to our understanding of clinical resistance to BRAF inhibitors. He has developed mouse melanoma models driven by mutant BRAF (and also by the BRAF paradox) and uses them with explore how ultraviolet light contributes to melanoma development. His recent work seeks to refine melanoma patient care through precision medicine approaches, and his analysis of uveal, mucosal and acral melanoma genomes provides insight into the aetiology of these rare melanoma subtypes. Amongst many accolades, he has served on the AACR Board of Directors and has been President of the European Association of Cancer Research.

Be curious, be brave and have a plan. Don’t be scared to put all of your energy into getting where you want to be.

Keywords: melanoma, cell signaling, basic, translational and clinical research

Lisa Newman, MD, MPH, FACS, FASCO

Lisa Newman, MD, MPH, FACS, FASCO

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-NewYork 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 M.D. Anderson Cancer Center 1997-99, followed by joining the faculty as an Assistant Professor; she continues to hold an Adjunct Professorship with M.D. 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.

Lillian S. Siu, MD

Lillian S. Siu, MD

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 350 peer-reviewed manuscripts, and she is currently a scientific editor for Cancer Discovery and is 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.

Keywords: clinical trials, drug development, biomarkers

Kedar Vaidya, PhD

Kedar Vaidya, PhD

Associate Director – Pharmacology, Early Development

Jazz Pharmaceuticals

Palo Alto, California

Kedar Vaidya is associate director in the Department of Pharmacology and Early Development at Jazz Pharmaceuticals. As a pharmacologist and cancer biologist by training, Kedar started his career in the In Vivo Pharmacology Department at Abbott Laboratories at Abbott Park, Illinois in 2009 with a focus on development of small molecules and biologics. Kedar Joined Jazz Pharmaceuticals in 2020 and is a pharmacology team lead and program lead for multiple discovery and development programs with a focus on biologics and drug delivery systems. His contributions have led to the approval of Venetoclax and 8 other entities that are currently in various phases of clinical testing.

My mentors have played a key role in my success and career progression. A good mentor will guide you through and advise on what to do, but most importantly on what not to do. That wisdom and guidance gained from years of experience is invaluable to a young researcher.

Keywords: pharmacology, biologics, small molecules, metastasis

Geoffrey M. Wahl, PhD, FAACR

Geoffrey M. Wahl, PhD, FAACR

Professor, Gene Expression Laboratory – Wahl

The Salk Institute

San Diego, California

Dr. Wahl graduated from UCLA and then went to Harvard University to get his PhD. He then did a post-doc at Stanford with Dr. George Stark. He started his own lab at the Salk Institute in 1979, and has been there since. He has studied the molecular mechanisms of gene amplification, did early work on the structure, replication and segregation of extrachromosomal DNA (also called Double Minute chromosomes, or DM’s), and discovered that p53 acts as a cell cycle checkpoint to prevent gene amplification and many other forms of genome instability from occurring in normal cells. His lab now focuses on breast and pancreas cancers and develops new technologies and molecular tools that are broadly applicable to cancer science. His lab strives to understand how cell state decisions are made in normal development, and how cell state reprogramming occurs in advanced cancers to contribute to intratumoral heterogeneity. The lab uses cutting edge single cell sequencing, epigenetic, bioinformatic, and molecular genetic strategies to accomplish their goals. Dr. Wahl has also taken active interests outside the lab on behalf of cancer patients and the cancer research community. He is a former President of AACR.

spent many years being complacent with the term “basic science” to explain what my lab does. But, like other cancer research labs, I now think a better way to describe what we do is “Foundational Science”, for our findings should provide the solid foundations upon which our discoveries can be translated to the clinic to benefit patients. Though it may sound trivial, if I were to give one piece of advice to anyone now embarking on a career in research it is: Always pursue what you are passionate about, and don’t be afraid to change directions. And, most important, don’t be discouraged if a review panel tells you something that is very important to you “can’t be done.” I know too many examples, including many of my own, where what was not possible for someone else became possible for us because we took a different route to find a solution.

Keywords: Breast cancer, pancreas cancer, single cell biology, tumor heterogeneity