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Lee W. Wattenberg, M.D., Receives the 2011 AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Prevention Research

May 20, 2011


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PHILADELPHIA — Lee W. Wattenberg, M.D., will receive the 2011 AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Prevention Research for his role in launching the field of chemoprevention and his work to understand the potential mechanisms of action of chemopreventive compounds. Wattenberg is a professor at the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota and past president of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“Dr. Wattenberg is a trendsetting, innovative cancer research leader whose early thinking and insights in cancer prevention put the spotlight on the potential of the field to save lives from cancer,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “His lifelong work in this field has inspired scores of scientists to dedicate their energies and their careers to preventing or delaying the onset of cancer. Dr. Wattenberg’s work proves definitively that one committed person can positively alter the course of cancer science and medicine. Cancer prevention is his extraordinary legacy, and all of us are profoundly grateful for his stellar contributions.”

An AACR member since 1961, Wattenberg first recognized that some groups of compounds could be effective in chemoprophylaxis of carcinogenesis in experimental animals in 1965. He introduced the term “chemoprophylaxis” in a 1966 review that was published in Cancer Research, a journal of the AACR. In this seminal publication, he laid the groundwork for the experimental inhibition of chemically induced animal carcinogenesis. The concepts he developed led to the framework for understanding the potential mechanisms of action for chemopreventive compounds, which still guides preventive agent development today.

Wattenberg is the author of more than 150 scientific publications. His studies have covered a wide range of chemopreventive agents, including dietary preventive substances and most recently synthetic compounds that might prevent carcinogen-induced lung cancer. He pioneered the use of aerosols to deliver drugs in lung cancer. His laboratory is currently studying processes that cause irreversibility in carcinogenesis and whether these processes could be targets for intervention.

Wattenberg is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a 1962 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 1996 AACR-American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, and the 1991 American Health Foundation Naylor Dana Award for scientific achievement in the prevention of cancer.

His tireless dedication to cancer prevention is evidenced by the many seminars, lectures and workshops that he has presented all over the world. He was chair of the American Association for Cancer Research’s first prevention symposium at the 1979 AACR Annual Meeting and has been a major speaker at the AACR Annual Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research meetings. Wattenberg has served as program chair of the AACR Annual Meeting and on numerous AACR committees, editorial boards, the Board of Directors and as AACR president from 1992 to 1993. 

Wattenberg earned an undergraduate degree from The City College of New York in 1941 and his medical degree from the University of Minnesota in 1950. He has spent most of his career at the University of Minnesota, where he now holds the position of professor at the Masonic Cancer Center.

The 2011 AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Prevention Research will be presented at The Lee W. Wattenberg Symposium – Cancer Chemoprevention: Past Achievements, Future Strategies, held May 26, 2011 in the Al Johnson Great Room in the McNamara Alumni Center at the University of Minnesota. For more information, please contact Lisa Haubein, Ph.D., at

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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:
Natalie Poole
(267) 646-0619

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