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Gabriel Hortobagyi honored for mentoring minority researchers

WASHINGTON, DC -- Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D., professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, will receive the Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship from the American Association for Cancer Research and its Minorities in Cancer Research membership group.

Internationally recognized for his clinical and translational contributions to the field of breast cancer research, Hortobagyi will receive the honor at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 April 4-6 in Washington, D.C. His lecture focused on the importance of team science and cooperative group trials to further advance translation of basic science into progress for patients.

The AACR-MICR Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship was established in 2006 to recognize an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of minority investigators in cancer research.

"I'm humbled by the AACR and their Minorities in Cancer Research colleagues. To be recognized for furthering the advancement of minority investigators in cancer research is truly an honor -- all of us share a mutual dedication to breast cancer care and feel that there has never been a more exciting time for the field," Hortobagyi says. "I had the distinct pleasure of knowing Jane Cooke Wright. Her myriad scientific contributions and unwavering commitment to mentoring young scientists, especially African American women, are still impactful in cancer research and the community at large."

Hortobagyi, who holds the Nellie B. Connally Chair in Breast Cancer, is the past-chair of the Department of Breast Medical Oncology and has been a member of MD Anderson's faculty since 1976. He is widely recognized for developing combined therapies for previously inoperable breast tumors, improving multidisciplinary treatment for patients with all stages of the disease and conducting clinical trials to develop treatment regimens that have become standard practices for managing breast cancer.

"Dr. Hortobagyi is well-known for his groundbreaking research, his outstanding patient care and leadership in the field and at MD Anderson," said Waun Ki Hong, M.D., head of MD Anderson's Division of Cancer Medicine and vice provost of clinical research. "We're proud to see him recognized for his success as a dedicated, diligent mentor to young investigators."

The lectureship is named in honor of Jane Cooke Wright, M.D., a pioneer in clinical cancer chemotherapy research who recently passed away at the age of 93. Wright, a member of the AACR since 1954, became the highest ranking black woman at a nationally recognized medical institution in 1967. She was elected this year into the inaugural class of the Fellows of the AACR Academy.

Early in his career, Hortobagyi conducted a landmark study that gave chemotherapy before surgery to breast cancer patients with locally advanced tumors that had not spread to other parts of the body. The study concluded that most large tumors could be reduced by at least 50 percent with the preoperative chemotherapy and then removed surgically. He also:

  • With colleagues first described pathological complete response as a surrogate therapeutic endpoint in patients treated with preoperative chemotherapy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering accepting this endpoint for accelerated drug approval.

  • Published a study that showed a three-drug regimen administered before surgery, and radiation therapy after surgery, produced promising results for breast cancer patients with advanced disease. This approach was later applied with increased success to earlier stage disease.

  • Co-led the international Phase III clinical trial of the mTOR inhibitor Affinitor that led last year to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of the drug in combination with an aromatase inhibitor to benefit women with post-menopausal hormone-receptive positive metastatic disease.

  • Established the role of bisphosphonates to treat patients with bone metastases and introduced paclitaxel and docetaxel in the management of metastatic and primary breast cancer.

Hortobagyi also is a past-president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. He is an elected member of 15 professional societies, honorary member of 17 others and received honorary doctorates from the universities of Modena (Italy), Nuevo Leon (Mexico) and Buenos Aires (Argentina). He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and Sciences of Argentina, Hungary, and Mexico,

He has earned many honors, including the Brinker International Award for Clinical Research, the medal of the Japanese Surgical Society and the Vermeille Medal from the city of Paris. French President Jacques Chirac named him Chevalier of the Order of la Legion d'Honneur de France. He also won the Horizon Achievement Award in Breast Cancer Research from Bristol-Myers Squibb Oncology and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the Glenn Robbins Award, and was named a World Leader in Oncology by the Mexican Society of Oncology. He received the Cruz Civica from the Colombian Government; was elected to receive the ASCO Statesman Award, the Charles A. LeMaistre Outstanding Achievement Award and the John Mendelsohn Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award; also the Dr. Jenaro Haddock Prize and Memorial lecture and the Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Award from the Society for Translational Oncology, the Jill Rose Award from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the William L. McGuire Award at the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Hortobagyi has contributed more than 800 articles to scientific journals. He was co-founder of the World Summit Against Cancer, an international group of scientists, health care professionals, patient advocates, economists, lawmakers and celebrities who are campaigning to ensure people worldwide receive the most advanced treatment for cancer. The summit resulted in the Charter of Paris, and the eventual designation of February 4th every year as World Cancer Day.


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

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