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AACR Recognizes the Outstanding Achievements of Pier Paolo Pandolfi

January 12, 2011

Recipient of the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research

PHILADELPHIA — Pier Paolo Pandolfi, M.D., Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2011 Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research for his outstanding work in the field of cancer genetics and mouse models for cancer. This work has contributed to new therapies for treating cancers.

“Dr. Pandolfi’s research has had a profound impact on our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL),” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “His laboratory’s mouse models for various subtypes of APL have shown efficacy when utilizing different drug combinations. Clearly, this innovative research is leading to progress in the treatment of other types of cancer.”

Pandolfi is the George C. Reisman Professor of Medicine and a professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School; director of research at the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center; and director of the cancer genetics program and chief of the division of genetics in the department of medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His studies have had an impact on the cancer research arena by broadening the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer.

The research carried out in Pandolfi’s laboratory has been important in understanding the molecular mechanisms and genetics underlying the pathogenesis of leukemias, lymphomas and solid tumors, as well as in modeling these cancers in mice.

Among his many accomplishments, Pandolfi and colleagues have characterized the function of oncoproteins and genes involved in the chromosomal translocations of APL, as well as of major tumor suppressors such as PTEN and p53, and novel proto-oncogenes, such as POKEMON. These accomplishments have led to the development of novel and effective therapeutic strategies, and, as a result, APL is now considered a curable disease.

Additional novel therapeutic concepts have emerged from Pandolfi’s research, which are currently being tested in clinical trials. More recently, Pandolfi and colleagues have presented a new theory describing how mRNA, both coding and non-coding, exerts biological functions with profound implications for human genetics, cell biology and cancer biology.

Pandolfi received his medical degree in 1989 and his doctorate in 1996 from the University of Perugia in Italy, after he studied philosophy at the University of Rome. He received postgraduate training at the National Institute for Medical Research and the University of London in the United Kingdom.

In 1994, Pandolfi became an assistant member of the molecular biology program and the department of human genetics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He grew through the ranks to become a member in the cancer biology and genetics program at the Sloan-Kettering Institute; professor of molecular biology and human genetics, and professor of molecular biology in pathology and laboratory medicine at the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Cornell University; and head of the molecular and developmental biology laboratories, and  the incumbent of the Albert C. Foster Endowed Chair for Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Among his lauded career experiences, Pandolfi has also received numerous awards including: the LLSA Scholar Award (1997); the Irma T. Hirschl Trust Award (1999); the Alexandra J. Kefalides Prize for Leukemia Research (1999); the Hamdan Award for Medical Research Excellence (2000); the Lombroso Prize for Cancer Research of the Weizmann Institute of Science (2001); the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Stohlman Scholar Award (2001); the William and Linda Steere Foundation Award (2004); and, the prize for Scientific Excellence in Medicine from the American-Italian Cancer Foundation (2005).

He also has been awarded the National Institutes of Health MERIT Award, the Fondazione Cortese International Award, the Prostate Cancer Foundation Creativity Award and the Ischia International Award. In 2006, Pandolfi was elected as a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the American Association of Physicians, and the following year he became a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization.

The Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award, now in its 14th year, recognizes an individual scientist of international renown who has made a major scientific discovery in basic or translational cancer research.

Pandolfi will give an award lecture during the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, in the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 18,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. Including Cancer Discovery, the AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. AACR journals represented 20 percent of the market share of total citations in 2009. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists.

Media Contact:
Michele Sharp
(267) 646-0622
Michele.Sharp@aacr.org

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