Researchers and scientists honoured for improving prevention, treatment and care of people living with cancer

22 Mar 2011

A physician-scientist credited with discovering the first human oncogene and isolating the first known tumour suppressor gene is among the notable awardees set to be honoured by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) at its 2011 Annual Meeting.

Each year through its Special Awards, ASCO recognises quality researchers, patient advocates, and leaders of the global oncology community who, through their work, have made significant contributions to enhancing cancer care. These recipients of ASCO's highest, most prestigious awards collectively represent significant strides in cancer treatment and leadership in the oncology community.

"The recipients of this year's awards have made outstanding contributions to the oncology field," said Dr Douglas Blayney, Immediate Past President of ASCO and Chair of the Special Awards Selection Committee. "For their commitment to improving the prevention, treatment, and care of people with cancer, it is our honor to bestow upon them ASCO's highest achievement awards."

The 2011 ASCO Special Awards Honorees are:

David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture
Dr Kenneth C. Anderson, is the recipient of the 2011 David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture for his outstanding achievements in cancer research and for his influence on the treatment of patients with cancer. Dr. Anderson currently serves as the Director of the LeBow Institute for Myeloma Therapeutics and Jerome Lipper Center for Multiple Myeloma at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Kraft Family Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Over the last three decades, Dr. Anderson has focused his laboratory and clinical research studies on novel biologically based therapies for multiple myeloma. His paradigm for identifying and validating targets in the tumor cell and its milieu has already transformed myeloma therapy and offers great promise for patients with other hematologic malignancies or for those with solid tumors.

Science of Oncology Award and Lecture
Robert A. Weinberg, PhD, Founding Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the recipient of the 2011 Science of Oncology Award and Lecture. Dr. Weinberg is most widely known for his discovery of the first human oncogene, the ras oncogene, which causes normal cells to form tumors, and the isolation of the first known tumour suppressor gene, the Rb gene. He also demonstrated how certain gene regulators contribute to cancer metastasis. His laboratory now focuses on two areas: the interactions between epithelial and stromal cells that produce carcinomas and the processes by which cancer cells invade and metastasize. ASCO presents Dr. Weinberg with this award for furthering the understanding of cancer through his innovative and groundbreaking research.

ASCO-American Cancer Society Award and Lecture
Dr Jamie H. Von Roenn, is the recipient of the 2011 ASCO-American Cancer Society Award and Lecture for her pioneering work in palliative medicine and for her substantial contributions to oncology care and cancer pain management. As a Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Co-Director of the Cancer Control Program at Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Dr. Von Roenn has focused her career on the integration of palliative medicine skills and principles into oncology care, and breast oncology. She also has been a leading proponent for developing palliative care training for oncologists.

Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture
Dr Luca Gianni, Director of the Department of Medical Oncology and Head of the Project of Development of New Drugs and Innovative Therapies in Solid Tumors at the San Raffaele Cancer Center in Milan, Italy, is the recipient of the 2011 Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture. His research has led to the definition of a successful new regimen for breast cancer, as well as the clarification of relevant aspects of the pharmacology of paclitaxel and the mechanisms of drug–drug enhancement with doxorubicin. Dr. Gianni also made a major contribution to the development of HER2-directed therapies in women with breast cancer by designing and conducting the collaborative neoadjuvant trials NOAH with trastuzumab and NeoSphere with trastuzumab and pertuzumab, and by acting as a member of the Executive Committee of the HERA trial.

B.J. Kennedy Award and Lecture for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology
Dr John M. Bennett, Professor Emeritus of Medicine, Pathology, and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, is the recipient of the 2011 B.J. Kennedy Award and Lecture for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology. His interest in cancer in the aging population derived from studies of older patients with hematologic malignancies. Dr. Bennett was a founding member of the International Society for Geriatric Oncology and the first chair of the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation, has contributed over 500 publications to medical literature (as well as several books), and currently is Editor of Leukemia Research.

Pediatric Oncology Award and Lecture
Dr Lee J. Helman, is the recipient of the 2011 Pediatric Oncology Award and Lecture for his scientific achievements in the field of pediatric oncology. As Scientific Director for Clinical Research at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research, Dr. Helman's laboratory currently focuses on the biology and treatment of pediatric sarcomas, specifically Ewing's sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. He is also a Professor of Pediatrics and Oncology at the Johns Hopkins University.

Partners in Progress Award
Dr Benjamin O. Anderson, is the recipient of the 2011 Partners in Progress Award for his commitment to women throughout the world and his dedicated efforts to improve their quality of care. As Professor of Surgery and Global Health Medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle, he has devoted his clinical practice to the care of patients with breast cancer and breast health issues. For the past decade, Dr. Anderson has been a leading voice in the international breast cancer clinical improvement and best practices movement through establishment of the Breast Health Global Initiative (BHGI), a global alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to medically underserved women.

Distinguished Achievement Award
Dr David Khayat, PhD, serves as Head of the Department of Medical Oncology at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, France, and is the recipient of the 2011 Distinguished Achievement Award for his extraordinary leadership in the field of oncology. Dr. Khayat formerly served as President of the French National Cancer Institute. His research and clinical interests focus on the development of new agents for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, and melanoma. Dr. Khayat is nationally and internationally recognized for his efforts to improve cancer treatment, care, and awareness in France and abroad.

Special Recognition Award
Dr Daniel G. Haller, is the recipient of the 2011 Special Recognition Award for his outstanding contributions to clinical oncology and cancer research and for his dedicated service to the oncology community. Dr. Haller serves as Professor of Medicine and Attending Physician at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. His chief areas of clinical research are in the management of gastrointestinal malignancies. In May 2001, Dr. Haller assumed the role of Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He is the author or co-author of more than 125 peer-reviewed publications. He is considered one of the most prominent oncologists for gastrointestinal cancers and has been named to both the Good Housekeeping and Philadelphia Magazines listing of top physicians, the latter most recently in 2010.

Public Service Award
The Honorable Sherrod Brown, senior US Senator from Ohio, is the 2011 recipient of the Public Service Award. As part of the new health care law, Sen. Brown led the efforts to ensure the law included important consumer protections that require insurance plans to cover routine patient care for patients undergoing cancer clinical trials, working closely with ASCO and others in the cancer community to achieve this goal. Working with Ohio's world-renowned cancer hospitals and medical schools, Sen. Brown continues to be a leader on all cancer issues, including support for increased funding for the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health. ASCO is pleased to honor Sen. Brown for his commitment to advancing legislation in support of cancer research, treatment, and care.

All of the above awards will be presented at the Society's 47th Annual Meeting taking place in Chicago, June 3 – 7 at McCormick Place, with the exception of the Public Service Award, which will be presented at a private event and the Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture, which will be presented at the 2011 Breast Cancer Symposium, taking place September 8 – 10 in San Francisco, California.

Source: American Society of Clinical Oncology