ASCO Congratulates 2023 Special Awards Recipients

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ASCO and Conquer Cancer, the ASCO Foundation, will recognize researchers, patient advocates, philanthropists, teachers, and global oncology leaders who have reshaped cancer care around the world with the Society’s highest honors at the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago. Hear from select award recipients at the Career and Mentorship Development Roundtable on Sunday, June 4, at 10:00 AM CT.

Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO

Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO

“The recipients of this year’s Special Awards have made outstanding contributions to the oncology community, leading a global effort to transform cancer care and improve the lives of people living with cancer,” said Lori J. Pierce, MD, FASTRO, FASCO, Past President of ASCO and Chair of the Joint Special Awards Selection Committee. “It is our honor to recognize their commitment and dedication with the highest honors that ASCO awards every year.”

Allen Lichter Visionary Leader Award

Monica M. Bertagnolli, MD, FACS, FASCO, is the 16th Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), appointed to this position in October 2022 by President Joseph R. Biden. Prior to this, she served as the Richard E. Wilson Professor of Surgery in the Field of Surgical Oncology at Harvard Medical School and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Centers at the Brigham and Women’s/Dana-Farber Cancer Center. From 1994–2011, she led gastrointestinal correlative science initiatives within the NCI-funded Cancer Cooperative Groups. From 2011–2022, she served as Group Chair of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology. During this time, she also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Foundation Trials, LLC. She is a Past President of ASCO and has served on the Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Prevent Cancer Foundation.

ASCO–American Cancer Society Cancer Prevention Award

Deborah Schrag, MD, MPH, FASCO, is Chair of the Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is a medical oncologist specializing in the care of patients with gastrointestinal cancer. She has led pragmatic trials using informatics strategies to optimize patient and clinician well-being and the efficiency and equity of care. She has advised the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), U.S. Congress, and international health ministries regarding delivery of high-quality cancer care. Dr. Schrag has served on the Boards of Directors for ASCO, the American Board of Internal Medicine, the National Cancer Policy Forum, the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology, and as an Associate Editor for JAMA.

B.J. Kennedy Geriatric Oncology Award

Hans Wildiers, MD, PhD, is a medical oncologist dedicated to breast cancer research. He has served as a staff member in the Department of Medical Oncology at the University Hospital Leuven, Belgium, since 2004. Since 2015, he has been the coordinator of the Leuven Multidisciplinary Breast Center. He has also been the coordinator of several academic studies in the field of breast cancer and geriatric oncology and is the author of more than 350 peer-reviewed papers. He has been active within the Board of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology for many years and served as the organization’s president from 2018 to 2020. From 2009 to 2015, he chaired the Cancer in the Elderly Task Force of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC).

David Karnofsky Memorial Award

Hagop M. Kantarjian, MD, FASCO, serves as Chair of the Department of Leukemia and currently holds the Samsung Distinguished University Chair in Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In the past 4 decades, his research has transformed some standards of care and improved survival in several leukemia subtypes. Dr. Kantarjian has published more than 2,200 peer-reviewed manuscripts and more than 100 chapters. In 2012, he co-founded the Society of Hematologic Oncology (SOHO). In 2000, he created the MD Anderson Leukemia Fellowship. He is a nonresident fellow in health care at the Rice Baker Institute and has written extensively on important health-care issues in cancer.

Excellence in Equity Award

Carmen E. Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP, is the Ruth C. and Raymond G. Perelman Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Vice Chair of Diversity and Inclusion for the Department of Medicine and Associate Director of Diversity and Outreach for the Abramson Cancer Center. Dr. Guerra has also established community outreach and engagement programs to increase participation of Black patients in cancer clinical trials, including a cancer clinical trials ambassador program and the Lazarex Cancer Foundation’s Improving Patient Access to Cancer Clinical Trials program, a financial reimbursement program for patients participating in cancer treatment trials. Dr. Guerra co-chaired two ASCO-Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) workgroups that developed an unconscious bias training, Just Ask, and an equity, diversity, and inclusion site self-assessment for cancer research teams. Dr. Guerra is an author of the ASCO-ACCC research statement “Increasing Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Cancer Clinical Trials.” She also is a member of the National Board of Directors and the ACS Clinical Guidelines Development group.

Excellence in Teaching Award

David Gerson Poplack, MD, is Professor of Pediatric Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine and Director of the Global HOPE (Hematology-Oncology Pediatric Excellence) Program at Texas Children’s Hospital and served as Director of Texas Children’s Cancer Center from 1993 to 2018. He is a founding co-editor of Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology. Dr. Poplack is the developer of the Passport for Care, an interactive website that addresses the need to provide long-term survivors of childhood cancer and their caregivers with screening guidelines and resources individualized to the survivor’s treatment history. He has served on many national and international committees, including panel appointments at the NIH, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Institute of Medicine, and as an appointed member of the NCI’s Board of Scientific Counselors. Dr. Poplack was awarded the American Society of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Distinguished Career Award.

Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award

Angela DeMichele, MD, MSCE, is Co-Leader of the Breast Cancer Research Program in the Abramson Cancer Center, Co-Director of the 2-PREVENT Breast Cancer Translational Center of Excellence, and holds the Jill and Alan Miller Endowed Professorship in Breast Cancer Excellence as Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She currently serves as Therapeutics Co-Chair for the ECOG/ACRIN Cooperative Group Breast Committee and on the NCI Breast Cancer Steering Committee. She has previously chaired the Metastatic Breast Cancer Track of the ASCO Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee and both Breast Cancer and Clinical Trials Education Committees, as well as serving on the Guideline Advisory Committee and as Co-Chair of the Metastatic Biomarker Guideline Expert Panel. In 2022, she was recognized with the Potamkin Prize for Breast Cancer Research by the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition and the Founders Award for Outstanding Patient Care by the Living Beyond Breast Cancer Foundation and was named a Komen Scholar and Leadership Grant recipient.

Humanitarian Award

Patrick J. Loehrer, Sr, MD, FASCO, is the Joseph W. and Jackie J. Cusick Professor in Oncology and Distinguished Professor of Indiana University (IU). He is also Director of the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center (IUSCCC) Center for Global Oncology and Health Equities. He has been an active clinical researcher and specialist in the treatment of a variety of cancers including testis, bladder, colon, pancreas, and, most notably, thymic malignancies. His research on the drug ifosfamide led to its approval by the FDA. His research related to thymic cancers has been recognized with the Exceptional Service Award of the Foundation for Thymic Research. He is co-principal investigator on a U54 grant studying the long-term impact of HPV in HIV-infected and -uninfected women in Kenya and Uganda. Dr. Loehrer was the founding Chair of the Hoosier Oncology Group (now Hoosier Cancer Research Network) for 2 decades. Dr. Loehrer is also the founding Director of the Academic Model for Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH)-Oncology Program for over the past decade.

Patient Advocate Award

Jane Perlmutter, PhD, MBA, -FASCO, is a long-term survivor of multiple cancers and an active advocate. Although her advocacy is largely rooted in her own experiences, it is also informed by her formal training in cognitive psychology and experimental methods, computer and information science, and business. During her early advocacy she was a peer counselor and board member for Y-ME, as well as a grant reviewer for ACS and the U.S. Department of Defense. More recently she has focused on clinical trials, ensuring that the patient voice is considered in selection of research questions and that trial protocols are sensitive to patient issues. She serves on the Steering Committees and as lead advocate on the I-SPY 2 and -TAPUR trials. She has been a member of many committees for government and not-for-profit groups, especially CALGB/Alliance, NCI, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI). Dr. Perlmutter has been a member of guideline committees for ASCO, the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), and Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO).

Patient Advocate Award

Colonel (Ret) James E. Williams, Jr, USA, MS, SPHR, a prostate cancer survivor diagnosed in 1991, has been active as an advocate for more than 29 years. He worked as a human resources administrator for 15 years after retiring from the Army. He is a senior professional in human resources (SPHR) and is the principal of Jim Williams and Associates, a consulting firm specializing in prostate cancer awareness, education, and advocacy. Colonel Williams is Board Chair of the Pennsylvania Prostate Cancer Coalition and past Chair of the Intercultural Cancer Council (ICC) at Baylor’s College of Medicine and the University of Houston. He has appeared on NBC’s Weekend Today program and was featured in Good Housekeeping, Cure, Prevention, CR, MaleCall, and The Voice. He received the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2018 Distinguished Public Service Award for Exceptional Leadership in Cancer Advocacy.

Pediatric Oncology Award

Peter C. Adamson, MD, FASCO, is Senior Vice President and Global Head of Oncology Development & Pediatric Innovation at Sanofi and Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology at the Perelman School of Medicine. He is also working with leaders across Sanofi’s therapeutic areas to further pediatric drug development efforts. Prior to joining Sanofi, Dr. Adamson was Professor of Pediatrics and Pharmacology at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania and held the Alan R. Cohen Endowed Chair in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). He also led the Children’s Oncology Group (COG), an NCI-supported international consortium of more than 220 childhood centers. Dr. Abramson was appointed by President Barack Obama and served on the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) as well as on the Blue Ribbon Panel for the Beau Biden National Cancer Moonshot Initiative.

Science of Oncology Award

Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, is President of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Senior Vice President for Clinical Services at UCSF Health. Dr. Ashworth was a key member of the team that discovered the BRCA2 gene in 1995; in 2005, his lab identified a way to exploit genetic weaknesses in cancer cells with mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, leading to a new approach to cancer treatment, PARP inhibition. Four different PARP inhibitors have now been approved by the FDA for the treatment of ovarian, breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancer based on this observation, which was named by Nature as one of the top 20 discoveries in cancer in the 21st century. He is an elected member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the American Association of Arts and Sciences, the American Association of Cancer Research, and the Royal Society.

Walther Cancer Foundation Supportive Oncology Award

Declan Walsh, MD, MSc, FACP, FRCP(Edin), is Chair of the Department of Supportive Oncology and the Hemby Endowed Chair in Supportive Oncology at the Levine Cancer Institute. He served as the founding Chair of an Academic Department of Palliative Medicine between the medical schools of Trinity College and University College Dublin. He held the Harry R. Horvitz Chair in Palliative Medicine and was Director of the Palliative Medicine Center at the Cleveland Clinic, and Professor of Internal Medicine at Ohio State University College of Medicine. Dr. Walsh founded the first U.S. hospital palliative care program at the Cleveland Clinic and was responsible for several notable innovations in U.S. palliative medicine: an endowed chair, a clinical fellowship, and the first acute palliative medicine inpatient unit. Dr. Walsh is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. Dr. Walsh is a founding member of both the European Association of Palliative Care and American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and has served on the Boards of the Multinational Association for Supportive Care in Cancer and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Hologic, Inc Endowed Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award

Carolyn D. Runowicz, MD, FASCO, is a tenured Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at Florida International University. She is a nationally and internationally recognized leader in women’s health and gynecologic cancer. She has served in leadership roles in the major cancer organizations including ASCO, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), the American Cancer Society, and the National Cancer Advisory Board. She has received numerous honors and awards, including the 2018 Distinguished Service Award from SGO. She is also the recipient of the University of Connecticut Distinguished Alumni Award, the American Medical Women’s Association Local Legend Award, Cancer Care Physician of the Year Award, and many others.

International Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award

Maria T. Bourlon, MD, MS, is a medical oncologist, Associate Professor, and Head of the Urologic Oncology Clinic at Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Mexico. She is also Director of the Genitourinary Cancers Program for Medical Oncologists at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. She was a 2013 ASCO International Development and Education Award (IDEA) awardee and 2018 JCO Global Oncology (JCO GO) editorial fellow. Her investigator-initiated research and participation in clinical trials has focused on genitourinary cancers. She has participated as a mentor in the Women’s Networking Center at the ASCO Annual Meeting, member of the ASCO Global Oncology Task Force, and JCO Global Oncology Editorial Fellowship mentor. She is the ambassador of the Oncofertility Consortium in Mexico and has served as faculty of ESMO LATAM, ESO Latin America, the ASCO Annual Meeting, and ASCO GU Cancers Symposium.

ASCO and Conquer Cancer acknowledge the generous support of the American Cancer Society for the ASCO–American Cancer Society Award and Lecture in Cancer Prevention and the Endowed ASCO Excellence in Equity Award; GlaxoSmithKline Oncology for the Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture; Walther Cancer Foundation for the Walther Cancer Foundation Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Endowed Award and Lecture; Hologic, Inc for the Hologic, Inc Endowed Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award; and Bristol Myers Squibb, Eisai Inc. and Novartis Oncology for the International Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award.

© 2023. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.