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5 from MD Anderson among first inaugurated to AACR Academy

HOUSTON Five researchers and leaders from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have been named Fellows to a new academy launched by the world's oldest and largest organization dedicated to cancer research, the American Association for Cancer Research.

AACR Chief Executive Officer Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.) said: "Our Board of Directors made the decision to establish the AACR Academy as a mechanism for recognizing scientists whose contributions to the cancer field have had an extraordinary impact. Membership in the Fellows of the AACR Academy will be the most prestigious honor bestowed by the American Association for Cancer Research."

MD Anderson Fellows are:

  • Isaiah J. Fidler, D.V.M., Ph.D., professor and R. E. "Bob" Smith Distinguished Chair in Cell Biology, Department of Cancer Biology. Fidler is an expert on metastasis, the lethal spread of cancer to other organs. He revived and developed the "seed-and-soil" hypothesis of cancer metastasis, directing attention to the importance of the microenvironment (soil) where metastatic cancer cells (seeds) take hold and flourish. The tumor microenvironment is now a major area of cancer research.
  • Waun Ki Hong, M.D., professor and head, Division of Cancer Medicine, and Samsung Distinguished University Chair in Cancer Medicine. Hong's landmark clinical trials demonstrated the effectiveness of organ-sparing cancer treatment, launched the field of chemoprevention, and led the field of personalized cancer therapy. He established the groundbreaking BATTLE clinical trial for lung cancer, an unprecedented effort to match treatment to tumor characteristics.
  • Margaret Kripke, Ph.D., Vivian L. Smith Distinguished Chair and Professor in Immunology Emerita. The founding chair of MD Anderson's Department of Immunology, Kripke made major contributions to understanding of the immune response against cancer and how cancer cells evade destruction. She retired as executive vice president and chief academic officer of MD Anderson and is now scientific director of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas
  • John Mendelsohn, M.D., director, MD Anderson's Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy and president from 1996-2011, a time of tremendous growth and accomplishment for the institution. Also a pioneer in the field of targeted therapy, he and colleagues developed a monoclonal antibody that blocks activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor, which stimulates cancer. The first drug in its class, Erbitux is used to treat colon cancer and cancers of the head and neck.
  • Louise Strong, M.D., professor and Sue and Radcliffe Killam Chair, Department of Genetics, is an expert in cancer genetics and epidemiology. She has made seminal discoveries in the genetic bases of Wilms tumor, retinoblastoma and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, as well as of the cancer risk posed by inherited genetic mutations, including those in the tumor suppressor p53.

"Selection to the AACR Academy is a richly deserved honor for MD Anderson's five Fellows, highlighting their indispensable contributions in cancer metastasis, personalized treatment, immunology, targeted therapy and cancer genetics," said Tom Buchholz, M.D., MD Anderson provost and executive vice president.

"In addition to their scientific and medical achievements, all have exercised important leadership roles to support and encourage other scientists and physicians in their endeavors against cancer," Buchholz said. "Congratulations to the AACR for establishing this academy to spotlight those who have had major impact on the cause of understanding and curing cancer."

Fidler, Hong, Kripke and Strong are all past presidents of AACR.

106 inductees chosen from 69 institutions worldwide

In announcing the new organization, the AACR noted the academy was created to recognize and honor distinguished scientists whose major scientific contributions have propelled significant innovation and progress against cancer. Fellows were selected through a rigorous peer review process.

The inaugural class of Fellows will be inducted into the AACR Academy at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 in Washington, D.C., on April 5 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The first class consists of 106 individuals, symbolizing the age of AACR upon establishment of the Academy. Future classes shall consist of a maximum of 11 individuals, in honor of the 11 founding members of the organization. These Fellows will be elected by vote of all the Fellows of the AACR Academy.

Contact: Scott Merville
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

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