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AACR Inaugurates New Leadership

April 4, 2011
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• Judy E. Garber, M.D., M.P.H., is elected as the new president.
• Nobel Laureate Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., is past-president.
• Frank McCormick, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon.), is president-elect.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Judy E. Garber, M.D., M.P.H., was inaugurated today as president of the American Association for Cancer Research at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011. This year’s meeting theme is “Innovation and Collaboration: The Path to Progress.”

“We are excited to have Dr. Garber serve as AACR president, at a time when scientific discoveries are rapidly being translated to patients,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “As a clinical and translational researcher, Dr. Garber’s areas of expertise epitomize the broad scope of work conducted by the AACR’s more than 33,000 members.”

“This is a momentous time for cancer research,” said Garber. “It is critical that we continue to strive for innovation in basic science and the rapid translation of this knowledge to the clinic. At the same time, we must work to overcome funding and other challenges. To be at the helm of the preeminent cancer research association at this time is truly an incredible opportunity. I look forward to furthering the mission and important work of the AACR as president this year.”

Garber is director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is an associate physician of medicine and attending physician of medical service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass.

Garber’s research has focused primarily on breast cancer risk assessment and risk reduction. A clinical translational researcher, she has led epidemiologic, cancer surveillance, cancer genetics service delivery and cancer risk reduction (chemoprevention) studies in hereditary cancers. Her primary interests have included breast and ovarian cancers, but she has also studied pediatric cancers and sarcomas in Li-Fraumeni and hereditary gastrointestinal stromal tumors. More recently, Garber 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 served as 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, the 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. She 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. She completed her fellowship in medical oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and in hematology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Ph.D., who preceded Garber as president, is the Morris Herzstein professor of biology and physiology in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. She served as the AACR president for the 2010 to 2011 term and will now fulfill the role of past-president.

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 molecular mechanisms of telomere maintenance and its regulation, cellular responses to telomere perturbations, and the possibility that life stress and lifestyle behaviors can take a toll on telomerase and telomeres. Several of her collaborative studies in humans have suggested such correlations. These findings may offer insights, at the cellular level, into the impact of stress on age-related diseases including cancers.

Throughout her career, Blackburn has been honored as the recipient of many prestigious awards. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and 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. She has received 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, the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research 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 was a senior editor of Molecular Cancer Research, a journal of the AACR. Blackburn was co-chairperson for the AACR Special Conference, “The Role of Telomeres and Telomerase in Cancer,” in 2002 and 2004, and co-chairperson of the AACR Conference on Frontiers in Basic Cancer Research in 2009 and 2011. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Stand Up To Cancer.

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 her postdoctoral work in molecular and cellular biology at Yale University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.

Frank McCormick, Ph.D., D.Sc. (hon.), AACR president-elect, is the director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He holds the E. Dixon Heise distinguished professorship in oncology and the David A. Wood distinguished professorship of tumor biology and cancer research at UCSF. Additionally, he is the associate dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and a distinguished professor in residence in the department of microbiology and immunology as well as in the department of biochemistry and biophysics.

McCormick pioneered cancer research looking at the molecular basis of cancer and how genes, when mutated or expressed at high levels, help turn normal cells into oncogenes. In 1992, he founded the biotech company Onyx Pharmaceuticals and developed Nexavar, which is used to treat advanced renal cell carcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. His current research interests center on the Ras pathway and new ways of targeting this pathway for cancer therapy.

Among his extensive service to the AACR, McCormick served as program chairperson for the 2010 Annual Meeting, member of the board of directors (2002 to 2005) and co-chair of the Annual Meeting Program Committee (2001). He chairs the Task Force on Co-development of Investigational Drugs, and previously chaired the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Committee (2005) and the Team Science Award Committee (2007). He is a member of the Special Conferences Committee and participated in the Scientific Review Committee (2003, 2007) and the Program Committee (1999) for the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics Meeting. McCormick is a scientific editor of the AACR’s new journal, Cancer Discovery, and was a senior editor of Molecular Cancer Research from 2002 to 2006. He was the recipient of the 2002 AACR G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award for outstanding recent accomplishments in basic cancer research.

McCormick is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and an elected fellow of The Royal Society, England, UK. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Birmingham, England, UK. McCormick has received many accolades and awards, including the Science of Oncology Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Unrestricted Cancer Research Grant, the Novartis Drew Award in Biomedical Research, and the Shubitz Award from the University of Chicago Cancer Research Center. He is on the editorial board for a number of cancer publications, including Cancer Discovery, BCM Cancer and Cancer Cell. He has served as a board member and advisor for numerous cancer research organizations including the Association of American Cancer Institutes, the Melanoma Therapeutics Foundation, the Canary Foundation, the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy and the Friends of Cancer Research.

McCormick received a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Birmingham and a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London.

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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
In Orlando, April 2-6:
(407) 685-4001

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