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Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR, Honored With 2019 AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship


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Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR

Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR

THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION for Cancer Research (AACR) recently honored Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR, with the AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship at the 2019 AACR Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

The AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship, now in its 13th year, is awarded to a scientist whose novel and significant work has had, or may have, a far-reaching impact on the detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer and who embodies the dedication of the princess to multinational collaborations. Her Imperial Highness Princess Kikuko Takamatsu was instrumental in promoting cancer research and encouraging cancer scientists. She became a champion for these causes following her mother’s death from bowel cancer in 1933 at the age of 43.

Dr. Sawyers is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Professor of Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College. He is recognized for his work on cancer drug resistance mechanisms, specifically those involving the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer.

This lectureship honors Dr. Sawyers’ role in developing molecularly targeted cancer therapies for the treatment of two diseases: CML and metastatic prostate cancer. His research into identifying treatments for cancers that have become resistant to established therapies has led to the development of dasatinib for patients with imatinib-resistant CML and enzalutamide and apalutamide for metastatic prostate cancer.

Research Interests and Professional Experience

DR. SAWYERS has focused on developing molecularly targeted therapies, initially for the treatment of CML. Following the clinical success of imatinib, he discovered that patients develop resistance through mutations in the BCR-ABL kinase domain and then collaborated with scientists to develop dasatinib, a  newer agent capable of overcoming imatinib resistance in select patients.

More recently, Dr. Sawyers has focused his efforts on targeting the androgen receptor in prostate cancer, based on preclinical work from his group showing that increased androgen receptor expression is the primary driver of castration resistance. He co-discovered two androgen receptor antagonists, enzalutamide and apalutamide, both of which received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration based on clinical benefit demonstrated in randomized phase III clinical trials in men with castration-resistant prostate cancer.

An active AACR member since 1998, Dr. Sawyers is Past President of the AACR, a Fellow of the AACR Academy, Chair of the AACR Project GENIE Steering Committee, and Co-Leader of the Stand Up To Cancer/Prostate Cancer Foundation Dream Team, “Precision Therapy of Advanced Prostate Cancer.”

Dr. Sawyers’ scientific accomplishments have been recognized with numerous additional honors throughout his career. Additionally, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


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