AACR Awards Webster Cavenee, PhD, Award for Leadership, Achievements


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Webster K. Cavenee, PhD

Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

Dr. Cavenee is truly deserving of this award, which acknowledges an all-around champion of cancer research.

—Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc)

Webster K. Cavenee, PhD, was honored with the eighth annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting held recently in San Diego. Dr. Cavenee is Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego, and Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego. He was recognized for his pioneering work in cancer genetics, for his leadership and global efforts against, glioblastoma multiforme; and for his service to the AACR for more than 25 years, including serving as AACR President in 1998-1999.

Groundbreaking Discoveries

“Dr. Cavenee is an outstanding basic cancer researcher who made groundbreaking discoveries that fundamentally changed our understanding of tumor initiation and progression,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “His impact on international cancer research extends far beyond his own scientific achievements. He is a key leader in our global efforts to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery and improve survival for patients with glioblastoma multiforme. In addition, he has volunteered an enormous amount of his professional life to furthering the work of the AACR. Dr. Cavenee is truly deserving of this award, which acknowledges an all-around champion of cancer research.” Dr. Cavenee said he was honored to be chosen to receive the AACR Margaret Foti Award, noting “This is especially gratifying because of the stellar group of previous awardees and the magnificent accomplishments of the namesake of the award.”

The Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research, established in 2007, recognizes an individual whose leadership and extraordinary achievements in cancer research, or in support of cancer research, have made a major impact on the field.

Pioneering Work in Genetics

Much of Dr. Cavenee’s career has been spent unraveling the inherited genetic changes that predispose individuals to cancer. His pioneering work in retinoblastoma provided the first indisputable genetic evidence for the existence of tumor suppressor genes in humans and confirmed the “two-hit” hypothesis that had been proposed more than a decade earlier. He went on to identify other recessive genetic lesions that predispose individuals to Wilms tumor, osteosarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma, and established the concept of loss of heterozygosity, now known to contribute to multiple cancers, both spontaneous and hereditary.

Advanced Understanding of Glioblatoma Multiforme

Dr. Cavenee has also made key contributions to understanding the biology of glioblastoma multiforme. His research in this area has helped illuminate the molecular mechanisms that drive the growth, migration, and survival of glioblastoma multiforme cells and identified potential new therapeutic approaches.

In addition to his extraordinary research accomplishments, Dr. Cavenee is an active leader in global efforts against glioblastoma multiforme. He is a member of the Strategic Scientific Advisory Council of the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative, which is a research-based effort launched by the National Brain Tumor Society that aims to double the 5-year survival rate for glioblastoma multiforme patients in 5 years.

Commitment to AACR

Dr. Cavenee has served in various leadership positions for the AACR and as a member of numerous committees. In addition to his term as AACR President, he was a member of the AACR Board of Directors from 1994 to 1997.

Dr. Cavenee was named to the inaugural class of Fellows of the AACR Academy last year. He has been recognized with numerous other awards throughout his career. Dr. Cavenee is also an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

Dr. Cavenee received his undergraduate degree from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and his doctorate from the University of Kansas Medical School in Kansas City. After completing postdoctoral work at the Jackson Laboratory and the University of Utah, Dr. Cavenee held professorships at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio and McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He has been Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego,
since 1991. ■



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