One of the leading experts in adult stem cell biology will receive the 2021 Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research.
Hans Clevers, MD, PhD, FAACR, will present his award lecture during the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2021. His lecture will be available starting Friday, April 9, as part of the meeting’s featured On Demand content and will remain accessible to all registered attendees through June 21, 2021.
The AACR is honoring Clevers for a series of breakthrough discoveries that led to the development of mini-organs, now called organoids. Generating organoids from stem cells has been an essential first step toward the growth of the regenerative cancer medicine field. This unique cancer model system has also been instrumental in establishing new research avenues involving the testing of novel anticancer therapeutics on tissues derived from tumors and cultured as organoids.
“We are extremely proud to honor Dr. Clevers with this year’s Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. “His pioneering research in stem cell biology, which led to the establishment of organoids as an essential model system for cancer research, has deepened our understanding of cancer’s origins and revolutionized cancer drug development for the benefit of patients around the world.”
Clevers, group leader at the Hubrecht Institute for Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research, principal investigator at the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology and university professor and oncode investigator at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, has been a member of the AACR since 2007, and was elected as a Fellow of the AACR Academy in 2014. He served as a member of the AACR Board of Directors from 2013-2016.
Clevers’ research group first studied the behavior of the intestine in normal physiological states. His group cloned the transcription factor TCF1, which has since been proven to be a vital component in the Wnt signaling pathway. Clevers demonstrated the link between Wnt signaling and adult stem cell biology by demonstrating that TCF4 gene disruption leads to the elimination of small intestinal crypts, while the targeted knockout of the TCF1 gene severely disables the stem-cell compartment of the thymus.
In collaboration with Bert Vogelstein, MD, FAACR, Clevers demonstrated that mutations in the Wnt signaling pathway are capable of contributing to colon cancer onset and progression. This finding has since propelled countless research efforts focused on the development of novel anticancer therapeutics that precisely target the Wnt signaling pathway.
Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research recipients must be active in cancer research, have a record of recent noteworthy publications, and be conducting ongoing work that holds promise for continued substantive contributions to progress in the field of cancer.