Donald S. Coffey, PhD, Recognized With AACR’s Margaret Foti Award

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Donald S. Coffey, PhD

Donald S. Coffey, PhD, was honored with the 9th Annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015.

Dr. Coffey, a fellow of the AACR Academy, and the Catherine Iola and J. Smith Michael Distinguished Professor of Urology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was honored for his tremendous leadership and profound contributions to cancer research. His distinct reputation as a natural advocate and leader is evidenced by his tenure as AACR president (1997–1998), which resulted in a number of initiatives for the organization. Likewise, his pioneering work on the structure of the cell nuclei and the pathogenesis of prostate cancer, coupled with his dedication to mentoring young cancer researchers and promoting cancer research nationally, epitomizes the spirit of the award.

Major Discoveries

“Dr. Coffey is an internationally recognized research scientist who has made seminal contributions to numerous areas of cancer research,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “His work on the nuclear matrix established a new paradigm for understanding the biology of normal and cancer cells, while his prostate cancer research helped change the face of that deadly disease. However, Dr. Coffey’s impact on cancer research extends far beyond his scientific achievements. His outstanding leadership skills, dedication to mentoring young investigators, passionate advocacy for sustained increases in funding for cancer research, and remarkable ability to translate complex scientific concepts into lay language make him an icon in the field, and a true champion of cancer research. He is greatly deserving of
this award.”

“To receive this premier award honoring Dr. Margaret Foti, who has built the AACR into the world’s leading organization to impact the control of cancer, fulfills my lifetime dream. Johns Hopkins University, the AACR, and hundreds of colleagues, supported by private and public donors, have all made this possible,” said Dr. Coffey.

A Background of Service

Dr. Coffey’s service to the AACR began in 1976. In addition to his tenure as president from 1997 to 1998, he has been a member of the AACR Board of Directors (1993-1996) and Nominating Committee (2001-2003), Co-chair of the Science Education Committee, Program Chair of the AACR Annual Meeting 1995, and a member of the Public Education Committee and Long-range Planning Committee, as well as Associate Editor of the journal Cancer Research. He has also provided his mentorship in the ScientistÖSurvivor Program and for early-career scientists.

Dr. Coffey has served in various other leadership positions throughout his career, including the National Cancer Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of the National Coalition for Cancer Research, President of the Society for Basic Urological Research, National Chair of the National Cancer Institute’s National Prostatic Cancer Program, and Director of the Brady Laboratory for Reproductive Biology and the research laboratories in the Department of Urology at Johns Hopkins.

While working toward his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from East Tennessee State University, Dr. Coffey was a chemist at the North American Rayon Corporation. He began his tenure at Johns Hopkins in 1959, where he has served since, joining the Johns Hopkins Hospital as Acting Director of the Brady Urological Research Laboratory. He received his doctorate from the university’s medical school in 1964. Additionally, he is currently an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at Howard University in Washington, D.C. ■