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Stephen W. Fesik, Ph.D., Receives Sixth Annual AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research

March 22, 2012
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CHICAGO  — The American Association for Cancer Research will recognize Stephen W. Fesik, Ph.D., with the 2012 AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 – April 4.

Fesik is the Orrin H. Ingram II chair in cancer research and professor of biochemistry, pharmacology and chemistry at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. His lecture, “Drugging the undruggable using fragment-based methods,” will take place at 3:00 p.m. CT on Tuesday, April 3, in room W196 of McCormick Place West.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research, which has a history of contributing to the fight against cancer for over 100 years,” said Fesik. “I appreciate the support of my past and present colleagues who made this award possible. Using fragment-based methods, we hope to discover inhibitors against highly validated but challenging cancer targets. Every day, I am inspired by the possibility that our efforts in cancer drug discovery could dramatically improve the lives of millions that are affected by this horrible disease.”

Fesik is receiving this award for the use of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to discover novel, potent small molecules capable of being used as cancer therapeutics.

He was one of the first researchers to utilize NMR spectroscopy for cancer drug discovery. He developed many NMR methods and determined the three-dimensional structures of several proteins, especially proteins involved in apoptosis. In addition, through the use of his “SAR (structure-activity relationships) by NMR” method, one of the first examples of fragment-based approaches to drug discovery, several inhibitors of protein-protein interactions were discovered. One of these compounds, ABT-263 (navitoclax), is currently in clinical trials for its ability to inhibit the Bcl-2 family of proteins and subsequently initiate tumor cell death (apoptosis).  

Fesik received his doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, Storrs, Conn., and conducted his postdoctoral work at Yale Medical School in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, New Haven, Conn. Subsequently, Fesik joined Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill., where he served in various roles, including the divisional vice president of cancer research. In 2009, he joined Vanderbilt where the focus of his research is on cancer drug discovery using fragment-based methods and structure-based drug design.

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Press registration for the AACR Annual Meeting 2012 is free to qualified journalists and public information officers:

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About the AACR

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR’s membership includes 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 18,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes seven peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous organizations. As the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and of related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer.  

For more information about the AACR, visit

Media Contact:
Tara Yates
(215) 446-7110
In Chicago, March 31 – April 4:
(312) 528-8206

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