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AACR Inaugurates New Leadership

April 2, 2012
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  • Frank McCormick, Ph.D., F.R.S., D.Sc. (hon.), is president.
  • Judy E. Garber, M.D., M.P.H., is now past-president.
  • Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., is inaugurated as president-elect.

CHICAGO — The AACR welcomes its new leadership as Frank McCormick, Ph.D., F.R.S., D.Sc. (hon.), assumes the role of president of the American Association for Cancer Research for 2012-2013. He was inaugurated today during the Annual Business Meeting at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held here March 31 – April 4.

“The AACR is a remarkable organization and I am delighted to serve as president,” McCormick said. “The AACR’s membership represents the largest community of cancer researchers in the world, and I will be looking for new ways to help this community work together more effectively. I will also focus on strengthening the AACR’s impact overseas and on new initiatives in education and training.

“There have never been more opportunities to make a major impact on cancer, and I want to make sure that the AACR and its members worldwide are in the strongest position to seize these opportunities, and to use the power of research to prevent and cure cancer,’’ he added.  

McCormick 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 is a pioneer in cancer research. He has studied 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 and co-chair of the Annual Meeting Program Committee. He chairs the Task Force on Co-development of Investigational Drugs and previously chaired the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research and the Team Science Award Committees. He is a member of the Special Conferences Committee and participated in the Scientific Review and the Program Committees for the AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics meeting. McCormick is a scientific editor of the AACR’s newest journal, Cancer Discovery, and was a senior editor of Molecular Cancer Research. He was the recipient of the 2002 AACR G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award for outstanding 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. He was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from the University of Birmingham, England. 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 of a number of cancer publications. 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.

Judy E. Garber, M.D., M.P.H., who preceded McCormick as president, served as the AACR president for the 2011-2012 term with distinction and will now fulfill the role of past president 2012-2013.

Garber is director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a 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 syndrome 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 of the AACR. She is a member of the Board of Directors and served as a member of the Stand Up To Cancer Innovative Research Grants Review Committee, the Finance and Audit Committee, the Special Conferences Committee, the 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 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, the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference: 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 AACR.

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 Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Charles L. Sawyers, M.D., is AACR president-elect, taking the presidency in April 2013.

Sawyers is chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. He is also a professor in the Cell and Developmental Biology Program and Department of Medicine at the Joan & Sanford Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University.

He is currently conducting research to investigate the signaling pathways that drive the growth of cancer cells, with an eye toward designing new treatment options for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and prostate cancer. His laboratory is currently exploring the molecular basis of prostate cancer and mechanisms of resistance to hormone therapy. This work is focused on the role of the androgen receptor in disease progression, even when tumors progress to the hormone-refractory stage. Additional projects include deciphering mechanisms of resistance to MDV3100, a novel antiandrogen discovered by his group that is nearing FDA registration based on positive survival data in a recent phase 3 clinical trial.  His lab is also dissecting AR function using RNA interference screens and examining crosstalk between AR and other common molecular lesions in human prostate cancer such as PTEN loss and TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions.

Sawyers has received numerous accolades, including the AACR Richard & Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award, the Dorothy P. Landon-AACR Prize for Translational Cancer Research, the Doris Duke Distinguished Clinical Scientist Award, the American Society of Clinical Oncology David A. Karnofsky Award, the Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, and most recently the 2012 American Cancer Society/Society of Surgical Oncology Basic Science Lecture.

He is a scientific editor for Cancer Discovery, the associate editor of Clinical Cancer Research and was an associate editor for Cancer Research, all scientific journals of the AACR. Sawyers is a co-leader of the Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team: “Targeting the PI3K Pathway,” for which the AACR is a scientific partner.

In addition, he was a keynote speaker and scientific committee co-chairperson for the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference: Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics, co-chairperson of the AACR’s special conferences Targeting the PI3 Kinase Pathway in Cancer and Emerging Concepts in Oncology, and chairperson of the AACR’s educational workshop Molecular Biology in Clinical Oncology. Sawyers has also served previously as a member of the AACR Board of Directors, the Nominating Committee and the AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Committee.

Among his extensive service to the AACR, Sawyers is past president of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, serves on the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Councilors and is a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences.

Sawyers received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1985. Three years later he completed residency training at the University of California, San Francisco, and joined the fellowship program of the division of hematology-oncology at  the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1993, Sawyers became an assistant professor at UCLA, and three years later was appointed associate chief of basic research and director of the Hematopoietic Malignancies and Bone Marrow Transplant Program. In 2002, he was named an HHMI Investigator. Sawyers joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 2006 to chair the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program.

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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 policy makers 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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