ASCO Honors Researchers, Scientists for Significant Advances in Cancer Treatment and Care

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ASCO and the Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF) proudly announce the winners of ASCO’s Special Awards, the Society’s highest honors, and the CCF Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award. The recipients of these awards include researchers, patient advocates, and global oncology leaders who have worked to transform cancer care around the world. ASCO will recognize this year’s awardees—which include a prominent researcher in the field of immunotherapy and an oncologist whose work has highlighted cancer risk factors particular to African populations—at the ASCO Annual Meeting in June.

“The meaningful contributions from each of this year’s honorees are leading to improvements throughout the cancer care continuum,” said Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA, FASCO, Immediate Past President of ASCO and Chair of the Special Awards Selection Committee. “These oncology leaders are changing the lives of people with, or at risk for, cancer, and ASCO is proud to honor them with our most prestigious awards.”

2017 Special Award Recipients

The 2017 Special Awards honorees are:

Carl H. June, MD: David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture
Presented during the Opening Session, Saturday, June 3, 9:30 AM

First presented in 1970, the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award and Lecture honors Dr. Karnofsky by recognizing an oncologist who has made outstanding contributions to cancer research, diagnosis, and/or treatment.

Dr. June is Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies at the Perelman School of Medicine and Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania. He maintains a research laboratory that studies various mechanisms of lymphocyte activation related to immune tolerance and adoptive immunotherapy for cancer and chronic infection. In 2011, his research team published findings detailing a new therapy in which patients with refractory and relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia were treated with genetically engineered versions of their own T cells. The treatment is now being used with promising results to treat children with refractory acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Eric P. Winer, MD, FASCO: Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture
Presented on Saturday, June 3, 4:45 PM

First presented in 2007 and named in honor of cancer research pioneer Gianni Bonadonna, this award recognizes an active clinical and/or translational researcher with a distinguished record of accomplishments in advancing the field of breast cancer and with exceptional mentoring abilities.

Dr. Winer has devoted his professional career to breast cancer research and the treatment of individuals with breast cancer. He is Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and holds several appointments at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. His group at Dana-Farber conducts a broad array of breast cancer research, with the goal of extending the lives of individuals with breast cancer and minimizing morbidity from the disease nd its treatments.

Brian J. Druker, MD: Science of Oncology Award and Lecture
Presented during the Plenary Session, Sunday, June 4, 1:00 PM

Created in 2005, the Science of Oncology Award and Lecture is presented annually in recognition of a recipient’s outstanding contributions to basic or translational research in cancer.

Dr. Druker is the Director of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, JELD-WEN Chair of Leukemia Research, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Druker’s work helped pioneer the practice of precision cancer medicine by performing preclinical studies and leading clinical trials that were instrumental to the development of imatinib for chronic myeloid leukemia.

Patrick J. Loehrer, MD, FASCO: Allen S. Lichter Visionary Leader Award and Lecture
Presented on Sunday, June 4, 4:45 PM

Created in 2016, the inaugural Allen S. Lichter Visionary Leader Award and Lecture recognizes a recipient who has drastically changed the oncology field or who has made significant contributions to advance the mission of ASCO, CancerLinQ LLC, or the Conquer Cancer Foundation through the honoree’s ability to lead and inspire.

Dr. Loehrer is Director of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center and Associate Dean for Cancer Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Loehrer was the Founding Chair of the Hoosier Oncology Group (now Hoosier Cancer Research Network) for 2 decades, which conducted trials in 20 countries around the world.

Dr. Loehrer is recognized as a prolific clinical researcher and specialist in the treatment of a variety of cancers, including testicular, bladder, colon, pancreatic, and, most notably, thymic. His research on the drug ifosfamide led to its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Michael P. Link, MD, FASCO: Pediatric Oncology Award and Lecture
Presented on Monday, June 5, 1:15 PM

First presented in 2002, the Pediatric Oncology Award recognizes the career and achievements of an individual who has contributed outstanding scientific work—laboratory, clinical, or epidemiologic—of major importance to the field of pediatric oncology.

Dr. Link, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist, is the Lydia J. Lee Professor in Pediatric Oncology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. His research interests include the biology and treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphomas and Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as clinical management of bone and soft-tissue sarcomas in children. Throughout his career, he has developed, conducted, and published seminal clinical research that has changed how common pediatric cancers are treated. Dr. Link was Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Oncology for 10 years and is a former ASCO President.

Dean E. Brenner, MD, FASCO: ASCO–American Cancer Society (ACS) Award and Lecture
Presented on Monday, June 5, 11:30 AM

First presented in 1993, the ASCO–ACS Award and Lecture recognizes significant contributions to cancer prevention and control research or practice.

Dr. Brenner is the Kutsche Family Memorial Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. His scientific career has been devoted to translational research in cancer therapeutics, with the long-term goal of reducing cancer morbidity and mortality. To pursue these scientific goals, he has targeted eicosanoids, primarily in the colonic mucosa, as mechanistic therapeutic targets and as biomarkers for drugs, nutritional extracts, and dietary interventions aimed at reversing or delaying carcinogenesis progression. Because of the dearth of useful endpoints to define preventive therapeutic efficacy, he has emphasized biomarker discovery and validation platforms, which enable interrogation of molecular carcinogenesis events in representative models of human biology.

Jean-Pierre Droz, MD, PhD: B.J. Kennedy Award and Lecture for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology
Presented on Monday, June 5, 3:00 PM

Created in 2007 in honor of B.J. Kennedy, MD, this award and lectureship recognizes an ASCO member who has made outstanding contributions to the research, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer in the elderly and in bringing an understanding of geriatric oncology to fellows and junior faculty.

Dr. Droz has dedicated his work to the integration of geriatric assessment in decision-making for treating older people with cancer and was key in the development of geriatric oncology in France and other countries acting through the International Society of Geriatric Oncology. Dr. Droz was an attending physician at the Léon-Bérard Comprehensive Cancer Centre and Professor of Medical Oncology at the Claude-Bernard-Lyon 1 University in Lyon, France. Now in retirement, he is an attending physician of medical oncology in hospitals in French Guiana, in addition to teaching at the French Guiana and West Indies University Medical School.

Allen S. Lichter, MD, FASCO: Distinguished Achievement Award
Presented during the President’s Dinner, Friday, June 2

Created in 2009, the Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes leadership or mentorship by a scientist, practitioner, or researcher in any subspecialty of oncology that has benefited ASCO members and/or their patients.

Dr. Lichter served as ASCO’s Chief Executive Officer from 2006 to 2016; has held two significant leadership roles at the University of Michigan, including Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Dean of the Medical School; and was Director of the Radiation Therapy Section of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Radiation Oncology Branch. Dr. Lichter’s research at the NCI helped advance the use of lumpectomy plus radiation as an alternative to mastectomy in the local management of breast cancer, and his work at Michigan established the clinical utility of three-dimensional treatment planning and conformal dose delivery.

Lowell E. Schnipper, MD, FASCO: Special Recognition Award
Presented during the President’s Dinner, Friday, June 2

Created in 1992, the Special Recognition Award honors achievements of an individual whose research and innovations have had a transforming and lasting effect in areas of clinical oncology, cancer research, clinical trials, and patient advocacy activities or outstanding long-term service to ASCO and/or clinical oncology.

Dr. Schnipper, a clinician-scientist and medical educator, is the Theodore W. and Evelyn G. Berenson Professor Emeritus at Harvard Medical School and the immediate Past Clinical Director, Cancer Center, and Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. As the founding Chief of Oncology at the Beth Israel Hospital, he and his colleagues developed a highly sought-after training program focusing on clinical and translational research. Dr. Schnipper’s research interests range from bench to bedside and have contributed to the understanding of the mechanism of action and resistance to antiviral and antineoplastic therapies, genomic instability in cancer, and, most recently, quality and value in cancer care.

Ross C. Donehower, MD, FASCO: Excellence in Teaching Award
Presented during the President’s Dinner, Friday, June 2

First awarded in 2014, the Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes an ASCO member who has had a demonstrable impact on his or her trainees and has inspired and shaped trainees’ practice of cancer medicine.

Dr. Donehower has led the hematology/oncology fellowship program at Johns Hopkins University, where nearly 90% of graduates have taken positions in academic medicine. They include a number of students who have gone on to have illustrious academic careers and become leaders in the field. Dr. Donehower has spent more than 30 years at Johns Hopkins and currently serves as the Ludwig Professor of Clinical Investigation in Cancer.

Susan L. Weiner, PhD: Partners in Progress Award
Presented on Monday, June 5, 1:15 PM

First awarded in 2003, the Partners in Progress Award recognizes a person involved in patient advocacy activities that have an impact on public awareness about cancer (its causes, cures, or treatment) or activities that result in additional support either legislatively or fiscally for cancer research, treatment, prevention, or care.

Dr. Weiner is Founder and Director of The Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy. Throughout her career, Dr. Weiner has acted as a dedicated advocate for young patients with cancer and their families by pressing for innovative and efficient pediatric oncology drug development, early clinical trials, and quality care for survivors of childhood cancer.

Olufunmilayo I. Olopade, MBBS, FACP, FASCO: Humanitarian Award
Presented during the Opening Session, Saturday, June 3, 9:30 AM

First presented in 2011, the Humanitarian Award recognizes an oncologist who personifies ASCO’s mission and values by going above and beyond the call of duty in providing outstanding patient care through innovative means or exceptional service or leadership in the United States or abroad.

Dr. Olopade, a medical oncologist and internationally renowned expert in breast cancer, serves as the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at The University of Chicago. Her laboratory research is focused on defining molecular mechanisms of cancer through studies of genetic and nongenetic factors contributing to tumor progression in at-risk individuals from diverse populations.

Mary K. Gospodarowicz, MD, and Elizabeth J. Shpall, MD: Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award
Presented during the CCF Grants & Awards Ceremony, Sunday, June 4, 5:00 PM

First presented in 2016 by the Conquer Cancer Foundation, the Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award honors extraordinary female leaders in oncology who have both excelled as mentors and demonstrated outstanding commitment to the professional development of women colleagues as clinicians, educators, and researchers in oncology.

Dr. Gospodarowicz is Medical Director at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and Regional Vice President of Cancer Care Ontario. She recently served as President for the Union for International Cancer Control. Dr. Gospodarowicz’s research interests focus on the role of radiation therapy in lymphomas, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, and testicular cancer clinical trials. Her numerous mentees describe her as a committed, compassionate, and strong advocate for female professionals who leads by example.

Dr. Shpall is a well-known expert in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and cellular therapy. She is currently Director of the Cell Therapy Laboratory and Cord Blood Bank and Deputy Chair of the Department of Stem Cell Transplantation at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Having served as the founding President for the Foundation of Accreditation of Cellular Therapy and as Past President of the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, Dr. Shpall has successfully mentored residents, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty over the past 25 years and has ensured that mentees are able to establish their own clinical and/or research niches.

Fellows of the American Society of Clinical Oncology
Presented during the Opening Session, Saturday, June 3, 9:30 AM

The Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (FASCO) distinction recognizes ASCO members for their extraordinary volunteer service, dedication, and commitment to ASCO. Their efforts benefit ASCO, the specialty of oncology, and, most importantly, the patients at risk for or with cancer. The 2017 recipients of this distinction follow:

  • Robert C. Bast, MD
  • Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD
  • Linda D. Bosserman, MD, FACP
  • George P. Browman, MD, CM, BSc, MSc, FRCPC
  • Ezra E.W. Cohen, MD, FRCPC
  • Michael Fisch, MD, MPH
  • James N. Frame, MD, FACP
  • James M. Ford, MD
  • Timothy D. Gilligan, MD, MSc
  • Shawn Dana Glisson, MD, FACP
  • David L. Graham, MD
  • Stephen S. Grubbs, MD
  • Melissa M. Hudson, MD
  • Arti Hurria, MD
  • Paul B. Jacobsen, PhD
  • Kim Allyson Margolin, MD
  • Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt, MD, MPH
  • Tony Mok, MD
  • Howard Ozer, MD, PhD
  • Edith A. Perez, MD
  • Abram Recht, MD
  • Steven T. Rosen, MD, FACP
  • Hope S. Rugo, MD
  • Howard M. Sandler, MD
  • Charles L. Shapiro, MD
  • Frances A. Shepherd, MD
  • Catherine H. Van Poznak, MD
  • Jaap Verweij, MD, PhD
  • Katherine S. Virgo, PhD
  • Jeffery C. Ward, MD
  • Dan Sayam Zuckerman, MD

All of these awards and the Fellows of the American Society of Clinical Oncology will be presented at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago, June 2–6 at McCormick Place. For a list of the specific dates and room locations of the award presentations, check the Annual Meeting Program.

The ASCO Special Awards acknowledge the generous support of the American Cancer Society for the ASCO–American Cancer Society Award and Lecture; the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine and The John A. Hartford Foundation for the B.J. Kennedy Award and Lecture for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology; GlaxoSmithKline Oncology for the Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture; and Hologic, Inc. for the Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award. ■

© 2017. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.