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AACR Honors Lisa M. Coussens, Ph.D., With the 15th Annual AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship

March 26, 2012
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CHICAGO — The American Association for Cancer Research will award Lisa M. Coussens, Ph.D., with the 15th Annual AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship for her role as an internationally renowned basic scientist who has conducted novel studies on inflammation and stromal regulation of tissue homeostasis and tumor development.

Coussens’ lecture, “Inflammation and Cancer: Translating Basic Research into Clinical Practice,” will take place on Saturday, March 31 at 5:15 p.m. CT in room W196 of McCormick Place. The lecture is part of the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 – April 4.

“I am so honored to be given this opportunity,” said Coussens, associate director for basic research for the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). “Solving the problem of cancer will require diverse perspectives and insights. It is gratifying to be the recipient of an award that encourages scientists to foster progress, not only in their own work, but by assisting and encouraging others.”
Along with her role in the OSHU Knight Cancer Institute, Coussens serves as the Hildegard Lamfrom chair in basic science and professor and chair of cell and developmental biology for OHSU.

The AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Memorial Lectureship was established in 1998 in honor of renowned virologist Charlotte Friend, Ph.D., for her discovery of the Friend virus and her pioneering research on viruses, cell differentiation and cancer. The lectureship recognizes an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of women in science.

Coussens is well regarded for her research involving immune cell-mediated regulation of breast, lung and skin cancer development. Her early studies were amongst the first to define mechanistic roles for immune system-related cells, such as mast cells, in inflammatory processes regulating blood vessel production (angiogenesis) and tumorigenesis. She and her collaborators also helped to define in vivo roles of leukocyte-derived matrix metalloproteases (MMPs), as key regulators of tumor development.

Her studies have highlighted the numerous functions of MMPs in biological events such as fostering tumor cell survival, and fundamentally regulating tumor microenvironments to favor cancer development. Landmark results from her laboratory have showcased the diversity between leukocyte subtypes and their ability to regulate cancer development and metastasis. Coussens’ research has also demonstrated that lymphocytes and myeloid cells coregulate pro- and antitumor bioactivities in tissue-dependent manners. Her examination of interactions between myeloid cells and lymphocytes has fueled a paradigm shift in the field of tumor immunology and has reinforced the need for additional studies involving these cell populations in carcinogenesis.

Collectively, Coussens has contributed to the understanding that cancer is a disease that mirrors embryonic development, alluding to the notion that cancer is similarly vulnerable to manipulation and reprogramming. Her research has also expanded the view of inflammation and its role in cancer onset and progression, in turn promoting the need for drugs that target immune-pathways, when appropriate, within cancer treatment regimes.

Her lab continues important work, collaborating with biotech companies and clinicians. Currently, the lab is working with clinicians to develop investigator-initiated phase I/II clinical trials to examine immune modulation and standard-of-care chemotherapy in mesothelioma, breast and pancreas cancer.

Coussens received her Bachelor of Arts in biology from San Francisco State University, her doctorate in biological chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was a post-doctoral fellow in cancer biology at the University of California, San Francisco.

She has organized and presented at multiple national and international meetings, and has served on and assisted numerous professional organizations and government agencies. She has been the principal investigator on 24 research grants, which have also provided significant opportunities for mentoring of junior scientists.

In addition, she previously received the Gertrude B. Elion Cancer Research Award from the AACR, a V Foundation Scholar Award, the Edward Mallinckrodt Jr. Foundation Award for Medical Research and sequential awards from the Hellman family. She also received the prestigious Era of Hope Scholar Award from the U.S. Department of Defense. She has published 75 peer-reviewed articles with more in review, 20 other articles or editorials, and 17 book chapters. Coussens is a past member of the AACR Board of Directors, and former deputy editor for the AACR journal Cancer Research. She currently serves as an editorial board member for the journal Cancer Cell.

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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, biology, 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 cancer 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 that have the potential for patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and 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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