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Dr. Douglas Hanahan Recognized With AACR Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Award

April 5, 2014
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SAN DIEGO — Douglas Hanahan, Ph.D., director of the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL), in Lausanne, Switzerland, will be honored with the 11th annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, to be held in San Diego, Calif., April 5-9.

Hanahan will be presented with the award during the opening ceremony, Sunday, April 6, which starts at 8:15 a.m. PT, in recognition of his career-long history of making groundbreaking discoveries that have had an extraordinary impact on cancer research nationally and internationally.  

The AACR established the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research in 2004 to honor an individual who has made significant contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a body of work. These contributions, whether they have been in research, leadership, or mentorship, must have had a lasting impact on the cancer field and must have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer.

“Dr. Hanahan is a pre-eminent scientist and we are very pleased to recognize his stellar contributions to a number of areas in cancer research,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (hon.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “His ability to integrate ideas from many areas of cancer biology helped establish a paradigm-shifting framework for studying cancer that has provided a foundation for cancer researchers and those looking to identify new therapeutic targets for more than a decade. We look forward to watching him build on his seminal accomplishments in the coming years.”

“I am honored by this recognition, not only of my past accomplishments in cancer research, but also of my future potential to continue contributing to our mission to better understand mechanisms and apply such knowledge toward improved therapies for human cancer,” Hanahan said.

Hanahan is recognized as a pioneer in several fields of cancer research. He helped usher in the genetic era of cancer research whereby researchers use genetically engineered mouse models of cancer to further our understanding of cancer initiation and progression. He developed one of the first transgenic mouse models of cancer and demonstrated that oncogenes could initiate multistep tumorigenesis. He also used his transgenic mice to study the immune system and made groundbreaking contributions to understanding autoimmunity. Hanahan also collaborated with the late Judah Folkman, helping to establish the field of tumor angiogenesis, which has led to the development of antiangiogenic therapies for a number of types of cancer.

However, his interest is not limited to tumor angiogenesis, and his multidisciplinary approach has contributed much to studies of the tumor microenvironment. In particular, he integrated understanding of tumor immunology with that of the tumor microenvironment. For example, he was among the first to show that the tumor microenvironment was a barrier to antitumor cytotoxic T-cell attack. Hanahan’s current research includes studies on genetic signatures and cues in the microenvironment that modulate tumor invasion and metastasis, with the hope of advancing knowledge of cancer mechanisms and therapeutic applications.

Throughout his career, Hanahan has not only made significant research contributions, but he has provided extraordinary leadership to the cancer field. He is noted for his mentorship, and many of his past lab members are now world-renowned researchers. In 2000, he co-authored, with Robert Weinberg, one of the most influential papers in the field of cancer research, “The Hallmarks of Cancer.” Hanahan and Weinberg updated these concepts in an equally acclaimed paper in 2011, “Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation.”

Hanahan’s considerable research achievements have also been recognized this year with election as a Fellow of the AACR Academy. Other notable achievements include an American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellowship, and membership in the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, and the European Molecular Biology Organization.

Hanahan received his bachelor’s degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and his doctorate in biophysics from Harvard University. Before moving to the ISREC, he was professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. Prior to UCSF he worked as a senior scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory; he is an honorary American Cancer Society research professor and Merck-Serono chair at EPFL.

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