Conquer Cancer 2018 Awards Presented at ASCO Annual Meeting

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The Conquer Cancer Foundation of the ASCO recently announced the recipients of its 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting Merit Awards, Medical Student Rotations for Underrepresented Populations (MSR), Resident Travel Awards for Underrepresented Populations (RTA), and Long-term International Fellowship (LIFe). All four awards support young medical professionals in their pursuit of innovative cancer research and education and demonstrate Conquer Cancer’s commitment to fostering a diverse oncology workforce. 

ASCO Annual Meeting Merit Awards 

The Conquer Cancer Merit Awards support oncology trainees who are first authors on abstracts selected for presentation at an ASCO scientific meeting, including the ASCO Annual Meeting and thematic symposia. Conquer Cancer recognized 127 recipients with Merit Awards at the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting. This follows having already recognized 70 symposia-specific Conquer Cancer Merit Award recipients in 2018. These young oncology professionals are recognized for their important research findings in their respective fields within the cancer care continuum. 

“Conquer Cancer’s Merit Awards support young, bright minds in oncology and their innovative approaches to cancer research,” said Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH, FASCO, Chair of the ASCO Scientific Program Committee. “If we are going to make progress for our patients, support for new cancer research is vital, and we are excited to see how these awardees will continue to advance the field of oncology.” 

Five of the recipients were presented with Special Merit Awards for receiving the highest ranking scores in their respective abstract categories as determined by the ASCO Scientific Program Committee. These recipients are: 

Andrea M. Gross, MD, National Institutes of Health: Dr. Gross received the Bradley Stuart Beller Endowed Merit Award for the highest ranking abstract overall: “SPRINT: Phase II Study of the MEK 1/2 inhibitor selumetinib (AZD6244, ARRY-142886) in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and inoperable plexiform neurofibromas (PN),” Abstract 10503. Supported by Friends and Family of Dr. and Mrs. Ronald Beller. 

Alicia Latham Schwark, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Dr. Schwark received the Allen S. Lichter, MD, Endowed Merit Award for the second highest ranking abstract: “Pan-cancer microsatellite instability to predict for presence of Lynch syndrome,” Abstract LBA1509. 

Anita Peoples, PhD, MPH, University of Rochester Medical Center, received the Pain and Symptom Management Special Merit Award for the highest ranked abstract in pain management research: “Effect of pre-treatment sleep disturbance on radiation therapy (RT)-induced pain in 676 women with breast cancer,” Abstract 10100. 

Fiorela Hernandez Tejada, MD, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, received the Brigid Leventhal Special Merit Award for the top-ranking abstract in pediatric oncology: “ROR1-specific CAR for neuroblastoma using sleeping beauty-modified T cells,” Abstract 10523. 

Jack Shern, MD, National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, received the James B. Nachman Endowed ASCO Junior Faculty Award in Pediatric Oncology for the abstract: “Targeted resequencing of pediatric rhabdomyosarcoma: Report from the Children’s Oncology Group, the Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group, the Institute of Cancer Research UK, and the National Cancer Institute,” Abstract 10515. Supported by Friends and Family of Dr. James B. Nachman. 

MSR, RTA, and LIFe Awards 

Conquer Cancer has a vision of a world free from the fear of cancer, which requires collaboration across borders and amongst researchers from diverse backgrounds. Conquer Cancer’s MSR, RTA, and LIFe programs work to ensure that everyone, regardless of country of origin or background, has the opportunity to learn from other cancer researchers and make advancements in the field of oncology. 

“Conquer Cancer is proud to support promising medical professionals from underrepresented populations and resource-constrained countries,” said Thomas G. Roberts Jr, MD, FASCO, Chair of the Conquer Cancer Board of Directors. “The recipients of the MSR, RTA, and LIFe will help to spark new ideas and bring important perspectives to the table, which will help us care for every patient with cancer, everywhere.” 

The Medical Student Rotation for Underrepresented Populations provides clinical rotations for U.S. medical students from underrepresented populations in medicine who are interested in a career in oncology, and pairs them with an oncology mentor. 

The 2018 recipients are as follows: 

  • Mustafa Basree, University of Pikeville Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Anita Chanana, Stanford University 
  • Kirsten Concha-Moore, University of Arizona 
  • Kimberly Loo, Temple University, Fox Chase Cancer Center 
  • Veronica Manzo, Stanford University
  • Sylvestor Moses, PhD, University of Arizona
  • Kekoa Taparra, PhD, Mayo Clinic 

The Resident Travel Award for Underrepresented Populations provides funding for residents from underrepresented populations to attend the 2018 ASCO Annual Meeting, where recipients will get the chance to network with oncologists, attend educational sessions, and develop a deeper understanding of the oncology field. 

The 2018 recipients are as follows: 

  • Maria Garcia-Jimenez, MD, MS, New York University
  • Joannie Ivory, MD, Saint Louis University
  • Carla Justiniano, MD, University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Patrick J. Moore, MD, East Carolina University
  • Jenny Ruiz, MD, Columbia University Medical Center
  • Cristian Serna-Tamayo, MD, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey 

Established in 2010, the Long-term International Fellowship (LIFe) enriches the education and training of young oncologists in low- and middle-income countries by providing a one-year fellowship with an ASCO mentor in the United States, Canada, or the European Union. The fellowship helps to foster international communication and educational support and emphasizes the importance of mentoring in the oncology field. 

The 2018 LIFe recipient is: 

Dorothy C. Lombe, MD, of the Cancer Disease Hospital, Zambia: “Utilisation of Interstitial brachytherapy for target dose optimisation in the treatment of locally advanced cervical cancer.” Sponsoring Institution: BC Cancer Agency, Canada; Mentor: Juanita Crook, MD, FRCPC 


The 2018 Conquer Cancer Merit Awards are sponsored by AstraZeneca; Friends and Family of Dr. and Mrs. Ronald Beller; Dr. and Mrs. Douglas W. Blayney; Estate of Darla C. Ellis; Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Biotech, Inc., and Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie Company; Michael Kelley, MD, and Elise Hoffman, PharmD; the Kidney Cancer Association; Lilly; Loxo Oncology; Merck & Co., Inc.; Friends and Family of Dr. James B. Nachman; Novartis Oncology; the Dr. Kathleen Pritchard Medicine Professional Corporation; Frances A. Shepherd, MD, FASCO; Drs. Rachna and Puneet Shroff; Stephen A. Sherwin, MD; Mr. Jackson G. Simpson; and Takeda Oncology. 

The 2018 Medical Student Rotations are supported by AbbVie, Inc.; the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Mission Endowment; Eisai Inc.; Gilead Sciences, Inc.; GlaxoSmithKline Oncology; and Janssen Oncology. 

The 2018 Resident Travel Award Recipients are sponsored by the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Mission Endowment and Janssen Oncology Co-Sponsored with Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie Company. 

The 2018 LIFe is supported by the Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Mission Endowment. ■