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AACR and Landon Foundation INNOVATOR Awards Support the Next Generation of Researchers

April 6, 2013
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation will present three INNOVATOR Awards at the AACR Annual Meeting 2013, held in Washington, D.C., April 6-10.

  • The Sixth Annual Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for Cancer Prevention Research will be presented to Kenneth Y. Tsai, M.D., Ph.D., of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
  • The Sixth Annual Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research will be presented to David P. Carbone, M.D., Ph.D., of The Ohio State University in Columbus. Carbone’s collaborator is Carlos Gil Ferreira, M.D., Ph.D., of the Brazilian National Cancer Institute in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The Fourth Annual Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for Research in Personalized Cancer Medicine will be presented to Nikhil Wagle, M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Mass.

The AACR will honor the award recipients at a grants reception and dinner on Tuesday, April 9, at 6:30 p.m. ET in the Independence Foyer and Independence F-I in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

The Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Awards, established in 2008, are designed to foster innovation and collaboration in cancer research and support independent investigators early in their careers. The awards focus attention on younger researchers and recognize the critical need to identify and support the next generation of top cancer researchers who may facilitate breakthroughs in treatment and prevention.

The Landon Foundation-AACR partnership continues with these INNOVATOR Awards, which honor pioneers in cancer research. Including this year’s awards, a total of six prevention, six international collaboration and four personalized medicine awards have been presented. Combined with the previous scientific achievement awards, the total contribution of the Landon Foundation-AACR partnership is nearly $4 million.

Awardees each receive a two-year grant for $100,000 over the grant term.

2013 Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for Cancer Prevention Research

The INNOVATOR Award for Cancer Prevention Research supports a junior faculty researcher conducting research in any discipline of cancer prevention.

Tsai’s project is titled “Genomic Analysis of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma Progression.” Skin cancer is the most common class of malignancy in humans and is highly preventable. In the United States, there are over 3 million cases of skin cancer each year. Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) comprises 15 to 20 percent of cases and progresses from a precancerous lesion, actinic keratosis (AK). An understanding of the cellular events that lead from normal skin, to precancerous AK, to malignant cutaneous SCC is very poor and represents a fundamental gap in the understanding of this progression sequence.

Although most molecular genetic studies of AK have centered on known tumor suppressor genes, Tsai proposes to identify important cellular changes and genetic events that determine the progression from irradiated skin to precancerous AK, and from AK to malignant cutaneous SCC using novel approaches.

Ultimately, the goal of this work is to identify robust biomarkers of risk for AK and of progression to cutaneous SCC, and to identify therapeutic targets for chemoprevention at multiple stages of progression. The benefit of this is not only to identify and effectively treat individuals most at risk, but also to identify individuals who do not need aggressive treatment and constant surveillance.

2012 Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research

The Award for International Collaboration in Cancer Research supports an established international cancer research collaboration involving institutes in multiple countries by supplementing existing funding and providing the means to facilitate travel, training in new techniques and disseminating scientific knowledge gained from the collaboration.

Carbone’s project, “Molecular Profile of Lung Adenocarcinoma in Brazil,” will be part of a continuing international collaboration between American- and Brazilian-based laboratories to better understand the molecular profile of lung cancer in the Brazilian population, which affected more than 27,000 Brazilians in 2012 alone.

A formal collaboration was established in October 2012, between The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and the Richard J. Solove Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio, and the Brazilian National Cancer Institute to establish, in a comprehensive manner, the molecular profile of lung adenocarcinoma in Brazil. This collaboration is the foundation for the work proposed by Carbone.

Carbone and team will develop and validate a customized panel to genotype lung adenocarcinoma; they will then identify the frequency of genetic alterations in tumor specimens from 400 Brazilian patients with diagnosed lung adenocarcinoma. This information will be used to examine the occurrence of genetic changes to clinical and epidemiological characteristics and to also understand genetic clues about ancestry and their relation to genetic alterations in tumors.

This grant will support the continued study of the molecular profile of lung adenocarcinoma in Brazil. Ultimately, this study should provide genetic criteria to help treat Brazilian patients.

2012 Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for Research in Personalized Cancer Medicine

The Award for Research in Personalized Cancer Medicine provides support for a physician-scientist who conducts meritorious studies that hold promise for near-term patient benefit to accelerate progress in the area of personalized cancer medicine.

Wagle’s project, “Systematic Genomic Profiling of Endocrine-resistant Breast Cancer,” may lead to information that fosters the development of more detailed therapeutic treatments that target the core of the cancer as well as those associated with resistance. The information gained from this work may also guide future development of effective therapeutic regimes and provide additional targets for drug development.

Although a clear reduction in recurrence and mortality has been achieved for breast cancer, certain subtypes of the disease remain prevalent and deadly. Up to 40 percent of early-stage breast cancer patients who receive a combination approach to treatment, which includes endocrine therapy, will eventually relapse with resistant disease. Furthermore, if the cancer metastasizes, the eventual development of resistance to endocrine therapy is inevitable. This metastatic, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, which has progressed through endocrine-based therapy, results in the most common cause of breast cancer death. Unfortunately, the underlying reasons for the resistance remain unknown.

This project proposes to examine the genetic makeup of patients who have relapsed with resistant breast cancer and to identify why the resistance to treatment occurred.

The underlying hypothesis for this work is that resistance to hormonal therapy in ER-positive breast cancer involves changes in the patients’ cells that can be understood by studying their tumors’ genetics. Wagle will examine the patients’ tumor cells from pretreatment to when they became resistant to therapy, and analyze the genetic changes that occurred in order to identify alterations that can be targeted with new or existing therapeutic agents.

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Press registration for the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 is free to qualified journalists and public information officers.

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About the American Association for Cancer Research
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 membership includes more than 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 17,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight 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 team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term 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

About the Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation
The Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation was created through a bequest from Mrs. Dorothy P. Landon whose intent, along with that of her late husband, Kirk A. Landon, was to dedicate a major portion of their estate to medical research, especially research related to cancer. Mr. R. Kirk Landon, son of Kirk A. Landon, serves as the president of the foundation. The foundation seeks to accomplish its cancer research mission through a variety of programs and initiatives, including the Landon-AACR INNOVATOR Awards.

Media Contact:
Lauren Riley
(215) 446-7155
In Washington, D.C.,
April 6-10, 2013:

(202) 249-4005

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