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AACR-Minorities in Cancer Research Honors Pelayo Correa, M.D., With Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship Award

March 26, 2012
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CHICAGO — The American Association for Cancer Research and its Minorities in Cancer Research membership group will award Pelayo Correa, M.D., with the Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 – April 4.

Correa is the Ann Potter Wilson endowed chair in cancer research, and professor of medicine and pathology in the division of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. His award presentation and lecture, “Gastric cancer: An infectious disease,” will take place on Sunday, April 1 at 4:15 p.m. CT in room W196 of the McCormick Place West Convention Center.

The AACR-MICR Jane Cooke Wright Lectureship was established in 2006 to give recognition to an outstanding scientist who has made meritorious contributions to the field of cancer research and who has, though leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of minority investigators in cancer research.

Correa’s research centers around the epidemiology of gastric cancer, the second leading cause of cancer-related mortalities worldwide. The majority of his research involves investigating the relationship between Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections and the onset of stomach cancer.

Correa’s interest in gastric cancers began in the 1960s. During this time, he noticed that the incidence of stomach cancer within subpopulations of people in his native country of Colombia who lived in high-altitude areas of the Andes Mountains was far greater than among those who lived on the Pacific coast. In an effort to understand this occurrence, he started collecting biopsy specimens from affected individuals and began to characterize the progression of the disease.

Correa demonstrated that the progression to gastric cancer begins with a wave of inflammation within the stomach (gastritis) followed by loss of glands (atrophy) and intestinal metaplasia and dysplasia. Eventually, this process will continue to progress into stomach cancer. This multi-step transition from stomach inflammation to cancer has since been termed the “Correa Cascade,” a tribute to the extensive studies conducted by Correa to define the variable stages of gastric cancer onset and progression.  

Correa and his colleagues are currently examining the effects of variable strains of H. pylori on the development of gastric cancer in ethnic populations worldwide. The bacterial strains can be traced to their ancestral origin. Those with African ancestry are less carcinogenic than those of European origin. These studies take into account the complexity of the disease and have included the identification of genetic and environmental factors that, coupled with H. pylori infections, contribute to the disease’s process.

Correa received his medical degree at the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, in 1949. He completed a pathology residency at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and then returned to Colombia in 1954, where he served as chairman of the department of pathology at the Universidad del Valle School of Medicine. Correa returned to the United States on a permanent basis in 1970 when he began working at the National Institute of Cancer and later at Louisiana State University Medical Center, where his laboratory thrived until being destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, causing him to relocate to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center at Vanderbilt University in 2005.

He is the founding editor of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the AACR. He has received numerous honors in the United States and Latin America, including the Schering Award for Research Done by Medical Students in Colombia, Maude Abbott Lecturer at the International Academy of Pathology, the first American Cancer Society Award on Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention, presidential appointment to the National Cancer Advisory Board, honorary member of Sociedad Colombiana de Patologia, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Society of Preventative Oncology and honorary fellow of the American College of Epidemiology.

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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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