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Recipient of First AACR Young Champion in Cancer Research Award is Honored Guest at White House Science Fair

May 27, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) congratulates Elana Simon, the inaugural recipient of the AACR Young Champion in Cancer Research Award, on being invited to attend the 2014 White House Science Fair being hosted by President Obama today, Tuesday, May 27.

Simon was invited to the event at the White House after being recognized by the AACR last month for 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.

“Elana Simon’s journey from cancer patient to a young pioneering researcher has inspired the cancer research community,” said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. “Elana brought together a multidisciplinary team that rapidly achieved a scientific breakthrough with the potential to transform the diagnosis and treatment of a rare form of liver cancer. The AACR is delighted that Elana’s stellar contribution to advancing cancer science and medicine has been recognized with an invitation to the White House Science Fair.”

Six years ago, when she was just 12, Simon was diagnosed with fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma, a rare type of liver cancer that predominantly affects adolescents and young adults. She is now cancer-free and a co-author on a recently published Science paper that reported 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 the groundbreaking discovery that has the potential to change the way in which fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma is diagnosed and treated. 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.

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. Simon was presented with the inaugural award during the AACR Annual Meeting 2014, which was held in San Diego, California, April 5-9.

The first White House Science Fair was held in 2009 when President Obama launched his Educate to Innovate campaign to inspire more girls and boys to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. The 2014 White House Science Fair will include a specific focus on girls and women who are excelling in STEM and inspiring the next generation with their work.

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