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AACR Inaugurates New Leadership

April 19, 2010

• Nobel Laureate Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., is new president.
• Tyler Jacks, Ph.D., is past president.
• Judy E. Garber, M.D., M.P.H., is president-elect.
• William N. Hait, M.D., Ph.D., past president (2007-2008), is new treasurer.
• Hait succeeds Bayard D. Clarkson, M.D., past president (1980-1981), who served an unprecedented five terms as treasurer.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., was inaugurated today as president of the American Association for Cancer Research at the AACR 101st Annual Meeting 2010, “Conquering Cancer Through Discovery Research.” Blackburn, a 2009 Nobel Laureate, is the Morris Herzstein professor of biology and physiology in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.

“We feel extraordinarily privileged to have Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn as our president at such an auspicious and special time in her career,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “She has been a remarkable contributor to science and to the AACR for many years, and is truly one of the great scientific minds of today.”

“In addition to her extraordinary achievements in basic research, Dr. Blackburn places a strong emphasis on the science of translational research and cancer prevention,” added Foti. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with her in the coming year.”

Blackburn assumes the presidency of the AACR at a time when investigators are bringing exciting basic research to bear on clinical questions at an ever-quickening pace.

“We are at the stage in cancer research where we can start thinking about prevention as well as cures. The focus on cancer cures and treatments continues, and now there’s more hope than ever that rigorous research can be brought to bear on prevention,” said Blackburn. “I’m excited about this broadening out of what cancer research can do and how it coincides with my presidency.”

In 2009, Blackburn, with colleagues Carol W. Greider, Ph.D., and Jack W. Szostak, Ph.D., received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. Blackburn is currently investigating the possibility that life stress, the perception of life stress and lifestyle behaviors can take a toll on telomerase and telomeres. Several of her studies in humans have suggested a correlation. These findings may offer insights, at the cellular level, into the impact of stress on early onset of age-related diseases, and cancer specifically.

Throughout her career, Blackburn has been honored as the recipient of many prestigious awards. She is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. From 2002 to 2004, she served on the President’s Council on Bioethics and is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award in Basic Medical Research, the L’Oreal-UNESCO “For Women in Science” Award and the Kirk A. Landon-AACR Prize for Basic Cancer Research.

At the AACR, Blackburn served on the AACR Board of Directors (2006 to 2009), is a current member of the executive committee, and was the chair of several scientific award selection committees, including the AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Committee, the Women in Cancer Research-Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship Committee and the AACR G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award Committee. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up To Cancer. Blackburn was co-chairperson for the Special Conference, “The Role of Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer,” in 2002 and 2004. She was a senior editor of Molecular Cancer Research, a journal of the AACR.

Blackburn earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the University of Melbourne in Australia. She received her doctorate from the University of Cambridge in England. From 1975 to 1977, Blackburn completed postdoctoral work in molecular and cellular biology at Yale University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.

Tyler Jacks, Ph.D., who preceded Blackburn as president, is director of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Koch professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Jacks served as the AACR president for the 2009 to 2010 term and will now fulfill the role of past president.

Jacks’ research interests center on the genetic events that contribute to the development of cancer. His laboratory has engineered a series of novel, mutant mouse strains that accurately mimic human cancer and thus serve as animal models for exploring the cellular pathways regulated by cancer-associated genes.

“Dr. Jacks has brought energy, insight and a wealth of new ideas to his presidency,” said Foti. “He has challenged us to take a fresh look at our work at the AACR at a time when we faced difficult issues in terms of the economy and a changing landscape in the scientific and health care arenas. His leadership played a major role in keeping the AACR strong and growing throughout the past year. I look forward to his continuing contributions to the AACR and to cancer research.”

In addition to serving as president, Jacks has played a vital role in several leadership positions for the AACR over the years. He served on the Board of Directors (2001 to 2004), the Nominating Committee and the Annual Meeting Program Committee, and was chairperson of several AACR Special Conferences. Jacks was previously a senior editor of Molecular Cancer Research and currently serves on the editorial board of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, both journals of the AACR. In 2009, Jacks was elected to the Institute of Medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous accolades and awards, including the AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research, the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Amgen Award, and the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, which was awarded by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Jacks received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University and his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California, San Francisco. He completed his post-doctoral training at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, MIT.

Judy E. Garber, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Cancer Risk and Prevention Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and associate physician of medicine and attending physician of medical service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Mass., is AACR president-elect for 2010 to 2011.

Her research has focused primarily on breast cancer risk assessment and risk reduction. A clinical translational researcher, Garber has led epidemiologic, cancer surveillance, cancer genetics service delivery and cancer risk reduction (chemoprevention) studies in hereditary cancers. She has focused particularly on breast and ovarian cancers, but has also studied pediatric cancers and sarcomas in Li-Fraumeni and hereditary gastrointestinal stromal tumors. More recently, she has led a series of therapeutic clinical trials as part of a translational group focusing on basal-like breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in women with germline BRCA1 mutations.

Garber has served in many critical leadership roles with the AACR. She was a member of the Board of Directors (2007 to 2010) and is currently a member of the Stand Up To Cancer Innovative Research Grants Review Committee, Finance and Audit Committee, Special Conferences Committee, Grants Advisory Committee and the Susan Love/Avon Army of Women Scientific Advisory Committee. She was chairperson of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation-AACR Grants for Translational Breast Cancer Research Scientific Review Committee in 2008, and has served on several other grants committees and scientific award selection committees over the years. Garber has served on the Annual Meeting Program Committee as well as on the program and scientific review committees for many other meetings, including the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, AACR Scientific Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics and the JCA-AACR Special Joint Conference, “The Latest Advances in Breast Cancer Research.”

Garber is a senior editor of Cancer Prevention Research and a member of the editorial board for Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. She has also served as a senior editor for Clinical Cancer Research. All three publications are journals of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Garber is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Claire W. and Richard P. Morse Research Award and the Tisch Family Outstanding Achievement Award, both from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and the Statesman Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Garber is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, a member of the scientific advisory board of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and was a member of the advisory board of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

A graduate of the University of Virginia, Garber earned her medical degree and her master’s degree in public health from Yale University School of Medicine and completed her internship and residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Brockton-West Roxbury Veteran’s Administration Medical Center.

William N. Hait, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president and worldwide therapeutic area head of oncology of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals Research & Development, L.L.C., will assume the role of AACR treasurer. He succeeds Bayard D. Clarkson, M.D., who served as treasurer since 1994.

At Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals Research & Development, L.L.C., Hait is responsible for bringing science and medicine together with global world-class capabilities in research and drug discovery, biomarkers, translational medicine and clinical development expertise within cancer research. He leads a global team focused on combining internal and external innovative approaches to discover and develop new solutions for oncologic and hematologic diseases with high unmet medical need.

Hait joined Johnson & Johnson in 2007, after serving as the founding director of The Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and as professor of medicine and pharmacology and associate dean for oncology programs at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

“We welcome Dr. William Hait to this position. As a past president, he brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this new position and we look forward to a productive term ahead,” said Foti. “We are incredibly grateful for Dr. Clarkson’s long-time service to the AACR as treasurer. He completed an unprecedented five terms in the position, during a time of immense growth and dynamism in our organization and the field.”

Hait, who was president of the AACR from 2007 to 2008, launched AACR’s Translational Cancer Medicine meeting series. He currently chairs the Stand Up To Cancer Management Committee and co-chairs the AACR-NCI-FDA Cancer Biomarkers Collaborative. Among his extensive AACR service, Hait has chaired or co-chaired numerous committees and conferences, including the Clinical and Translational Cancer Research Committee, the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research Committee, the Scientific Review Committee for the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics and the Centennial Conference on Translational Cancer Medicine: Cancer Clinical Trials and Personalized Medicine. Additionally, Hait has served as editor-in-chief, co-deputy editor and editorial board member of Clinical Cancer Research and as a member of the editorial boards for Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and Cancer Research, all journals of the AACR. Hait was elected to the American Society for Clinical Investigation in 1993 and is a past recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Award in Clinical Pharmacology.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Hait received a medical degree and doctorate in pharmacology from the Medical College of Pennsylvania cum laude and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha National Medical Honor Society. He is board certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.

Bayard D. Clarkson, M.D., AACR president from 1980 to 1981, is stepping down as AACR treasurer, after serving in this role since 1994. He served an unprecedented five terms. Clarkson is the Enid A. Haupt Chair of Therapeutic Research, and member and head of the Laboratory of Hematopoietic Cell Kinetics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He is also professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. He served as chief of the hematology and lymphoma service and as associate chairman of the department of medicine at memorial Hospital, New York, for many years, where he is now a senior attending physician.

For more than 50 years, Clarkson’s laboratory has been studying the cellular kinetics of growth and differentiation of normal, leukemic, other cancer stem cells and progenitor cells, and their responses to various drugs with the goal of developing improved forms of treatment. He has made significant contributions toward advancing our understanding of the biology of human cancer and toward developing improved treatment programs. Clarkson is considered one of the pioneers of chemotherapy and is a clinical expert in hematological malignancies.

His lab studies the cellular kinetics of growth and differentiation of normal, leukemic, other cancer stem cells and progenitor cells, with a goal to develop improved forms of treatment.

Clarkson earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a medical degree from Columbia University. He was a volunteer ambulance driver in the American Field Service during World War II, serving with the British Army in Italy and Germany, and was a lieutenant in the United States Army Medical Corps during the Korean War. Clarkson took his internship and residency training at New York Hospital from 1952 to 1958. In 1958, he moved to Memorial Hospital & the Sloan-Kettering Institute, where he remained for his career. His first appointment was as a Special Lasker Fellow in the Cancer Chemotherapy Program, which was then headed jointly by Joseph H. Burchenal, M.D., and David A. Karnofsky, M.D. The following year, he was appointed to the junior attending staff in medicine at Memorial and as a research associate in Karnofsky’s laboratory at Sloan-Kettering. Ever since, his career has combined clinical and laboratory research, teaching and administrative responsibilities.

Clarkson has authored hundreds of publications that describe the results of his laboratory and clinical studies, as well as reviews that describe advances in different areas of cancer research. He and his colleagues were among the first to develop curative treatment programs for adults with some types of acute leukemias and lymphomas, and they first showed that it was possible to induce temporary, complete cytogenetic remissions in chronic myelogenous leukemia with intensive therapy.

An active member of the AACR for nearly 50 years, Clarkson is the chairman and president of the AACR Foundation, and was an initial trustee to establish the Foundation. Clarkson has also served on the AACR Board of Directors (1978 to 1981), the editorial board of Cancer Research, and several committees including the AACR Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research Committee and the Development Committee. He is a current member of the Grants Advisory Committee. As treasurer, Clarkson also had ex officio appointments on the Finance and Audit Committee and the Publications Committee. Additionally, he was a participant in the AACR Workshop on Cancer Stem Cells in 2006, and a symposium on stem cells and cancer has been named in his honor at the AACR Annual Meeting, beginning in 2007.


Download interviews with cancer researchers and recordings of the teleconferences by subscribing to the AACR Scientific Podcasts via iTunes or an RSS Reader.

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 31,000 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 fellowship and career development awards. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 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. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

Media Contact:
Michele Leiberman
(267) 646-0557
In Washington, D.C.
April 17-21:
(202) 249-4098

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