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Elana Simon Recognized With Inaugural AACR Young Champion in Cancer Research Award

April 14, 2014
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SAN DIEGO — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) honored Elana Simon, a survivor of fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma who also conducted groundbreaking research investigating the molecular characteristics of the disease, with the first AACR Young Champion in Cancer Research Award at the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, held in San Diego, Calif., April 5-9.

Simon was presented with the award during the opening ceremony, Sunday, April 6, in recognition of her pioneering efforts to further the understanding of fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma, and for serving as an inspiration to both junior and senior cancer researchers who are working hard to conquer cancer.

The AACR established the Young Champion in Cancer Research Award this year to recognize an individual who has made an early contribution to cancer research and enhanced public understanding about the disease.

“I would like to thank the American Association for Cancer Research and President Charles Sawyers for this award,” Simon said. “I would also like to thank my surgeon, Dr. Michael La Quaglia, for his support; everyone in my father’s lab who took time off from whatever they were doing to help me out, to work with me; and all of the fibrolamellar patients who raised the funds, donated their tissues, and even volunteered to work in the lab. Through working together with the public we can forge an alliance in which we will all win.”

Simon was diagnosed with fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma, a rare variant of hepatocellular carcinoma that predominantly affects adolescents and young adults, six years ago, when she was just 12. She is now cancer-free and a co-author on a recently published Science paper that reports the identification of a chimeric transcript that characterizes the disease.

Simon was a central figure in bringing together fellow patients, their doctors, surgeons, and basic researchers from numerous disciplines, including cellular biophysics and genomics, to make a breakthrough that has the potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment of fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma. Her ability to unite people from diverse fields and perspectives to rapidly achieve a scientific breakthrough highlights the importance of team science in the fight against cancer.

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