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John E. Dick, PhD, FAACR, to Receive Inaugural AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Blood Cancer Research


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John E. Dick, PhD, FAACR

John E. Dick, PhD, FAACR

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced that John E. Dick, PhD, FAACR, Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology, Senior Scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, and Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto, will receive the inaugural AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Blood Cancer Research. The AACR established this award to recognize an individual for meritorious achievements and contributions to basic, translational, or clinical research related to blood cancer or associated disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome or myeloproliferative neoplasms. Funding for this new award is being provided by an unrestricted educational grant from Pharmacyclics, an AbbVie Company, and Janssen Biotech, Inc.

Dr. Dick is being honored for discovering and characterizing the mechanisms by which stem cells contribute to normal and leukemic hematopoiesis. He is widely recognized for his seminal discovery of leukemic stem cells and for developing the first hematopoietic xenograft assay using human hematopoietic cells transplanted into immune-compromised mice, a technique capable of giving rise to distinct blood lineages. Using this assay, Dr. Dick has developed xenograft models of human acute lymphoid leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia that have provided crucial insights into the onset and progression of such diseases.

Of note, his research findings have uncovered a gene signature of leukemia stemness that can be used to predict survival rates and response to treatment. This research has highlighted actionable targets for drug development and has provided the foundation for clinical trials that are actively recruiting participants. Additionally, Dr. Dick’s research has led to the identification of genetic mutations that characterize preleukemic hematopoietic stem cells capable of contributing to therapeutic resistance and disease relapse.

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

“The AACR is very proud to honor Dr. Dick as the first recipient of this special award,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “His innovative groundbreaking scientific discoveries have contributed greatly to our understanding of leukemia and how we may effectively treat this devastating collection of malignancies. We are thrilled to recognize Dr. Dick’s work that continues to propel the field of blood cancer research forward, leading to more progress for patients.” 


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