Leading Contributors in the Progress Against Cancer to be Honored by World's Largest Society of Oncology Professionals

March 23, 2009

Danielle Potuto

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The physician-scientist who was one of the first to investigate viable treatment options for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia—previously believed to be fatal—and to discover that the disease could be cured in this population using chemotherapy is among the notable awardees set to be honored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Each year through the Special Awards Program, ASCO identifies those individuals whose personal commitment to furthering the progress against cancer has led to tremendous advances in the field. Clinicians, research scientists and others dedicated to improving the lives of people living with cancer are nominated to receive ASCO’s highest, most prestigious awards. The collective efforts of this year’s recipients are credited with important strides in bettering the care of children and older adults with cancer in addition to impacting cancer prevention and developing new treatment modalities.

“These awards recognize the best and the brightest among us, those who provide the skills and leadership to move cancer care, research, education, and prevention forward,” said Nancy Davidson, MD, ASCO Immediate Past President and Chair of the Special Awards Selection Committee. “I congratulate this year’s group of highly accomplished individuals, each of whom has made significant inroads in the fight against cancer. It is our honor to bestow upon them ASCO’s highest awards of achievement.”

The 2009 Special Awards honorees include:

Clara D. Bloomfield, MD, is the recipient of the 2009 David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award for her groundbreaking contributions to clinical research and for her outstanding impact on the treatment of patients with cancer. Dr. Bloomfield was among the first physician-scientists to investigate viable treatment options for older patients with acute myeloid leukemia—previously believed to be fatal—and to discover that the disease could be cured in this population using chemotherapy. Dr. Bloomfield is a Professor at The Ohio State University (OSU) Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she also is the William G. Pace III Endowed Chair in Cancer Research.

The Science of Oncology Award will be presented to Bert Vogelstein, MD, Director of the Ludwig Center at Johns Hopkins, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Clayton Professor of Oncology and Pathology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. He was the first scientist to elucidate the molecular basis of a common human cancer. In particular, he and his colleagues have demonstrated that colorectal tumors result from the gradual accumulation of genetic alterations in specific oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. His group’s discovery and analysis of these genes and their functions represent a landmark in the application of molecular biology to the study of human disease.

Olufunmilayo Olopade, MBBS, is the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor in Medicine and Human Genetics, Associate Dean for Global Health, and Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at the University of Chicago. As an internationally recognized hematologist/oncologist, Dr. Olopade specializes in cancer risk assessment, prevention, early detection, and treatment of aggressive breast cancer that disproportionately affects young women. ASCO is pleased to recognize Dr. Olopade for her outstanding efforts to reduce the global burden of cancer. In honor of her leadership and achievements in the field of breast cancer treatment, she will receive the ASCO-American Cancer Society Award. Dr. Olopade is a previous recipient of an ASCO Young Investigator Award.

The B.J. Kennedy Award for Scientific Excellence in Geriatric Oncology will be presented to Martine Extermann, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology and Medicine at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute at the University of South Florida. Her main interest is understanding how the general health of the older patient interacts with the choice and the conduct of cancer treatment. Dr. Extermann is being honored by ASCO for her outstanding devotion to caring for older patients with cancer and for her major scientific contributions to the field of geriatric oncology.

The 2009 Pediatric Oncology Award will be presented to the team of William E. Evans, PharmD, and Mary V. Relling, PharmD, for their outstanding research in and devotion to the treatment of childhood leukemia.

William E. Evans, PharmD, is Director and Chief Executive Officer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and holds the St. Jude Professorship and Endowed Chair at the University of Tennessee Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy. For the past 30 years, his research at St. Jude has focused on the pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents in children, for which he has received three consecutive National Institutes of Health (NIH) Merit Awards from the National Cancer Institute. The major disease focus of his pharmacogenomics research is acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

Mary V. Relling, PharmD, is a member and Chair of the Pharmaceutical Department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics, Clinical Pharmacy, and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Tennessee, Memphis. During her time at St. Jude, Dr. Relling has focused on improving drug therapy for childhood leukemia. Her areas of research include pharmacogenetics of antileukemia therapy and host- and treatment-related risk factors for adverse effects of cancer therapy.

The Distinguished Achievement Award will be presented to John H. Glick, MD, for his dedication to cancer research and his record of prominent leadership in the oncology community. Dr. Glick is a nationally recognized medical oncologist in the areas of Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and breast cancer. His clinical research projects are currently focused on evaluating the effectiveness of novel therapies for Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma, and breast cancer. He is a Professor of Medicine and the Leonard and Madlyn Professor of Clinical Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Diane S. Blum, MSW, is the recipient of the Partners in Progress Award, for her dedication on behalf of people with cancer. She is the Executive Director of CancerCare, a national nonprofit organization that provides free, professional support services including counseling, education, financial assistance, and practical help to people with cancer and their loved ones. In addition to her leadership of CancerCare, Ms. Blum serves as editor-in-chief of Cancer.Net, the ASCO website that provides oncologist-approved cancer information for patients and the public. Ms. Blum has written and lectured extensively about the psychosocial needs of people living with cancer and their families.

The Special Recognition Award will be presented to Richard Pazdur, MD, Director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Pazdur’s position facilitates coordination of oncology activities across all FDA Centers and ensures ongoing outreach and collaboration between the FDA, the National Cancer Institute, and other cancer-related organizations within and outside of the government. Dr. Pazdur’s main research interests are in clinical trial design and drug development of anti-cancer agents in advanced colorectal cancer. He has performed numerous phase I, II, III, and adjuvant therapy trials in this disease. ASCO is honoring Dr. Pazdur for his achievements in cancer research and for his outstanding service to the oncology community.

The Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture will be presented to Carlos L. Arteaga, MD, for his accomplishments in advancing the field of breast cancer research, in particular his discoveries of the pathogenesis of and molecular therapeutics in breast cancer. Dr. Arteaga is a Professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, holds the Vice Chancellor’s Chair in Breast Cancer Research, and serves as Director of the Breast Cancer Research Program of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. His research focuses on the role of signaling by growth factor receptors and oncogenes in the progression of breast tumor cells as well as the development of molecular therapeutics in breast cancer.

The ASCO Statesman Award recognizes ASCO members for their extraordinary volunteer service, dedication and commitment to the Society. Recipients of the 2009 Statesman Award have given 20 years of volunteer service and include:

Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Scott M. Lippman, MD, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Barbara L. McAneny, MD, New Mexico Cancer Center
Monica Morrow, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Jamie Hayden Von Roenn, MD, Northwestern University

All of the above awards will be presented at the Society’s 45th Annual Meeting taking place in Orlando, May 29 – June 3 at the Orange County Convention Center, with the exception of the Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Lecture, which will be presented at the 2009 Breast Cancer Symposium on October 8 – 10 in San Francisco.

For a list of the specific dates and room locations of the awards presentations, please contact Danielle Potuto at danielle.potuto@asco.org.

About ASCO
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 27,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. For ASCO information and resources, visit asco.org/presscenter. Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.cancer.net.