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Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Awards

PHILADELPHIA Reinforcing its commitment to supporting high-quality cancer research, the Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation have again partnered with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) to create two new funding opportunities, the Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for Cancer Prevention Research and the Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research. These awards, each offering a two-year $100,000 grant, will support the work of promising cancer researchers focusing on cancer prevention and international collaboration, respectively.

Carlo Maley, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia is the recipient of the first Landon Foundation-AACR INNNOVATOR Award for Cancer Prevention Research. The award recognizes outstanding achievement of an early career scientist pursuing research in cancer prevention and aims to encourage younger investigators to explore the cancer prevention field by providing the necessary support to ensure a robust future in cutting-edge prevention research.

To sustain progress in the rapidly advancing field of cancer prevention research and to develop new ideas and strategies to prevent cancer, younger investigators must be encouraged to pursue careers in this area, said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), AACRs chief executive officer. We are deeply grateful to the Landon Foundation for its support of promising early career investigators and congratulate Dr. Maley on his accomplishments and contributions to the future of cancer prevention research.

Maley and colleagues in his laboratory explore fundamental concepts in neoplastic progression, the processes by which normal tissue becomes cancerous, in order to develop better cancer prevention methods and therapies. They apply evolutionary biology, ecology, computational biology and genetics to the understanding of these problems. Specifically, Maley will apply funds from his AACR INNOVATOR grant to the development of models of Barretts esophagus, a human pre-malignant neoplasm that can lead to esophageal cancer. His analysis of the genetics and molecular biology of Barretts esophagus may serve as a basis for predicting which patients are likely to progress to full-blown esophageal cancer. Maley is working to translate these findings to the development of a method for identifying and assessing biomarkers for cancer prevention. By detecting genetic diversity in tumor cells, his analysis has the potential to identify which tumors are likely to progress and whether they may be sensitive to preventive therapies. This approach offers the possibility of having a practical tool that could benefit clinical practice as well as development of future preventive therapies.

The Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research is presented to a team of experts in genetics, thoracic oncology, geology and pathology working in the United States and Turkey. The award supports highly meritorious research being conducted collaboratively by investigators in different countries around the world, and aims to promote international cancer research collaboration as an effective means to accelerate progress against cancer by providing the necessary support to sustain and enhance such collaborations. Team members include: lead researcher Michele Carbone, M.D., Ph.D., and Haining Yang, Ph.D., University of Hawaii; Nancy Cox, Ph.D., and Ian Steele, Ph.D., University of Chicago; Harvey Pass, M.D., NYU School of Medicine and Clinical Cancer Center; Joseph Testa, Ph.D., Fox Chase Cancer Center; Y. Izzetin Baris, M.D., University of Hacettepe in Ankara, Turkey; A. Umran Dogan, Ph.D., University of Iowa; and Salih Emri, M.D., and Murat Tuncer, M.D., Hacettepe University School of Medicine in Ankara, Turkey.

International collaborations are essential to addressing the cancer problem on a global scale. To ensure continued progress in conquering cancer, researchers must be willing to share resources and technologies, lend expertise and communicate new concepts, perspectives and methodologies to the worldwide cancer community, said Foti. The work of Dr. Carbone and his team illustrates a commitment to all of these goals and it is a pleasure to recognize him and his team by providing much needed support for promising research that spans two continents.

Carbone and his team of international collaborators have discovered a unique mesothelioma epidemic in three Turkish villages and have demonstrated that it is caused by a genetic predisposition to mineral fiber carcinogenesis, a gene-environment interaction. Mesothelioma is a form of cancer where malignant cells develop in the mesothelium, a protective lining that covers most of the body's internal organs. Carbone and colleagues have identified exposure to erionite as the likely cause of the epidemic and have reduced exposure to that mineral fiber throughout the villages. They will apply the AACR INNOVATOR grant to their study of linkage analysis to identify the predisposing gene or genes for mesothelioma among this cultural group and map the genetic risk factors by genetic linkage studies. Findings from this research have implications far beyond the villages in Turkey as they can be applied to other geographic areas and communities worldwide with the goal of preventing this deadly form of cancer or finding new life-saving treatments.

Honorees will receive their awards during the Opening Ceremony of the AACR Annual Meeting on Sunday, April 13, 2008 at 8:15 a.m. in Hall G-H of the San Diego Convention Center. For complete award citations, biographies and photos of award winners, contact Jennifer Ryan in the AACR Department of Communications and Public Relations: 267-646-0558;


Contact: Jennifer Ryan
American Association for Cancer Research

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