Susan G. Komen is recognizing two widely respected and innovative breast cancer researchers—Donald McDonnell, PhD, and Laura Esserman, MD, MBA—as this year’s recipients of their highest scientific honor, the Brinker Awards. Established by Komen in 1992, the awards recognize advances in the understanding of underlying mechanisms in breast cancer (Basic Science) and the clinical setting (Clinical Research), both of which are essential to treating the disease.
Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Basic Science
The Basic Science award will be presented to Dr. McDonnell, who is Glaxo-Wellcome Distinguished Professor of Molecular Cancer Biology, Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, Professor of Medicine, Co-Director, Women’s Cancer Program, and a member of the Duke Cancer Institute, Duke University School of Medicine.
Dr. McDonnell is being honored for advancing the understanding of estrogen receptor signaling in breast cancer. His research has resulted in critical insights into the structure, function, and regulation of nuclear hormone receptors and is helping to lay the foundation for the development and clinical use of novel endocrine therapies to treat estrogen receptor–positive breast cancer.
“Dr. McDonnell’s innovative research has provided significant insights to the biology and pharmacology of the estrogen receptor and led to the development of new drugs for the treatment of hormone-dependent breast cancer. His leadership in the field and creative approach to translating laboratory-based discoveries to new cancer drugs will have a lasting impact on breast cancer research and care,” said Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Jennifer Pietenpol, PhD, Executive Vice President for Research at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Director of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and B.F. Byrd Jr Professor of Molecular Oncology.
Brinker Award for Scientific Distinction in Clinical Research
The clinical research award will be presented to Dr. Esserman, Director, Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, Alfred A. de Lorimier Endowed Chair in General Surgery, and Professor of Surgery and Radiology, University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Esserman has led innovative clinical trial programs, notably the I-SPY trials, which have become models for accelerating the development of safe, effective, personalized treatment; options for detection and prevention; and improved delivery of clinical care for patients with breast cancer.
“Dr. Esserman is an internationally recognized breast cancer surgeon and researcher who has spent her career at the University of California, San Francisco. Her groundbreaking work in the I-SPY and I-SPY 2 clinical trials has revolutionized our understanding of neoadjuvant clinical trials as biomarker and novel therapeutic testing venues and has led the way for the development of several clinically important agents,” said Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor, George Sledge, Jr, MD, Professor of Medicine at Stanford University.
The 2020 Brinker Award winners will deliver keynote lectures at the 43rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which will be held virtually from December 8 to 12, 2020.