The American Association for Cancer Research will present Distinguished Public Service Awards to three individuals whose extraordinary work has exemplified the AACR’s mission to prevent and cure all cancers through research, education, communication, collaboration, science policy, advocacy, and funding.
Each will receive their awards virtually during the AACR Annual Meeting 2021 Opening Ceremony, which takes place Sunday, April 11, from 8:30 – 10:15 a.m. EDT.
Kathy Giusti, MBA, has provided extraordinary, steadfast, and inspirational leadership for more than two decades at the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). As founder and chief mission officer, Giusti’s efforts have stimulated innovative multiple myeloma research and drug discovery efforts by enabling leading research institutions to collaborate with industry to speed the development of effective new treatments. The MMRF has raised more than $500 million for multiple myeloma research, helped to open more than 100 clinical trials, and played a significant role in bringing 13 treatments to market through her leadership.
A multiple myeloma survivor, Giusti founded and co-chairs the Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator at Harvard Business School. Giusti co-led the formation of the Kraft Accelerator Leadership Forum, a group of CEOs from disease-focused foundations working together to address medicine’s most important challenges. The forum works to share best practices and accelerate precision medicine models.
U.S. Rep. Nancy P. Pelosi (D-California) has been a champion for science-related issues throughout her distinguished congressional career, including now as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Pelosi has consistently advocated for robust, sustained, and predictable annual funding increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Her support for the $10 billion the NIH received in 2010 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was extremely important to funding the science necessary to improve public health and save lives from the myriad of diseases faced by individuals all over the world, including cancer.
During a keynote address at the virtual AACR Annual Meeting 2020, Pelosi reaffirmed her support of medical research, saying that one of her proudest moments while serving as a member of the House Appropriations Committee was “helping to secure the doubling of the NIH budget to give researchers and scientists the tools to create modern medical miracles.”
Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR, has advanced precision medicine by conceptualizing, then leading, AACR Project GENIE (Genomics Evidence Neoplasia Information Exchange) through the project’s formative years. Sawyers envisioned AACR Project GENIE as an international, pancancer registry of real-world data, built through data sharing among participating institutions, with the goals of powering precision oncology and clinical decision making, while remaining dedicated to open science and collaboration. The most recent public data release contained nearly 113,000 sequenced samples from more than 104,000 patients treated at 19 participating institutions, making the AACR Project GENIE registry among the largest fully public cancer genomic data sets released to date.
Outside of his work with AACR Project GENIE, Sawyers is a world-renowned physician-scientist and leader in the development of targeted therapies for cancer. He played a critical role in developing the molecularly targeted cancer drug imatinib (Gleevec) for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. Sawyers’ research into treatments for cancer that becomes resistant to established therapies led to the development of dasatinib (Sprycel) for patients with imatinib-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia and enzalutamide (Xtandi) for metastatic prostate cancer that has become resistant to docetaxel.
Sawyers served as AACR President from 2013-2014. He was elected by the Fellows of the AACR Academy as the AACR Academy President-Elect for 2020-2021 and will assume the Presidency of the AACR Academy at the AACR Annual Meeting 2021.
“The AACR is extremely proud to present these Distinguished Public Service Awards to three highly accomplished individuals whose leadership and selfless dedication to scientific progress have helped countless cancer patients, survivors, and their families, both in the United States and around the world,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “We are grateful for their pioneering contributions to cancer research and biomedical science and look forward to celebrating them at the AACR Annual Meeting 2021.”