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John Leonard Joins Board of Trustees of the AACR Foundation

May 8, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is pleased to announce that John E. Leonard, Ph.D., has joined the board of trustees of the AACR Foundation.

Leonard has worked in the biotechnology industry since 1988 and has held numerous leadership positions, including senior vice president of development at Vaccinex Inc., where he has served as an officer since 2009. Leonard is also the president and chief executive officer of the John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation, which provides support for several grants and scholarships including a fellowship in basic cancer research in partnership with the AACR.

“I am absolutely delighted that Dr. Leonard has accepted our invitation to join the AACR Foundation board of trustees,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “Dr. Leonard brings a wealth of experience in the biotechnology industry to the foundation. His guidance, expertise, and enthusiasm for the foundation’s mission will be invaluable as we expand our efforts to fund urgently needed cancer research and gives new hope to cancer patients.”

In the biotechnology industry, Leonard specialized in therapeutic antibody development. While at IDEC Pharmaceuticals and then Biogen Idec, he served in leadership positions on product development teams for drugs including rituximab (Rituxan), used to treat B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and rheumatoid arthritis; ibritumomab tiuxetan (Zevalin), for B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and natalizumab (Tysabri), for multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

“Translational research can improve the lives of patients with life-threatening diseases,” Leonard said. “Especially now, when cancer research funding from the federal government is insufficient, private funding has an even greater role to play. I look forward to helping the AACR address this need.”

Leonard received his doctorate in biochemistry from the University of California, Riverside. He served in the U.S. Army Reserve’s Medical Service Corps and retired as a colonel; he is a veteran of the 1990-91 Gulf War.

Leonard is a co-holder of five patents and author or co-author of numerous articles published in peer-reviewed journals. He has been a member of the AACR since 1986.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, in 2011 set up and funded the John and Elizabeth Leonard Family Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to support translational research, promote education in mathematics and the sciences, aid the disadvantaged, and address environmental issues. 

The mission of the AACR Foundation supports that of the AACR—to prevent and cure cancer through research, education, communication, and collaboration. Through its programs and services, the AACR fosters cancer research and related biomedical science; accelerates the dissemination of new research findings among scientists and others dedicated to the conquest of cancer; promotes science education and training; and advances the understanding of cancer causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment throughout the world. The foundation funds programs deemed by the AACR to be of the highest priority and impact in achieving this shared mission.

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