Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD. ©Elisabeth Fall
Raymond N. DuBois, MD, PhD
Lee J. Helman, MD
Three new Vice-Chairs of the Scientific Advisory Committee of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) were announced by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the Scientific Partner of SU2C. They are Nobel Laureate Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD, of the University of California San Francisco; Raymond N. DuBois, MD, PhD, of the Medical University of South Carolina; and Lee J. Helman, MD, of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. All three have served as members of the Scientific Advisory Committee.
“Elizabeth Blackburn, Ray DuBois, and Lee Helman have contributed greatly to the scientific direction of SU2C,” said Scientific Advisory Committee Chair Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Professor, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and who also is a Nobel Laureate. “As Vice-Chairs, SU2C will benefit even more from their expertise and time in invaluable ways as we continue to expand and diversify SU2C’s growing research portfolio.”
The Scientific Advisory Committee is composed of prestigious academic, advocacy, regulatory, and industry leaders in cancer research. Its role is to provide insight and guidance to SU2C, setting direction for SU2C’s research initiatives, reviewing proposals for new grant awards, and conducting rigorous oversight of all active grants in the SU2C portfolio.
Drs. Blackburn, DuBois, and Helman join Arnold J. Levine, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and William G. Nelson, MD, PhD, Director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, who have served as Vice-Chairs. Dr. Sharp has served as Chai of the Scientific Advisory Committee since the inception of SU2C in 2008.
Dream Teams of Research
In that time, SU2C has launched 24 “Dream Teams” of top researchers at different leading institutions, each attacking a specific cancer or problem in cancer research; 51 Research Team grants, including 11 SU2C Catalyst® teams conducting clinical trials to find new uses for drugs; 11 Convergence Research Teams, bringing together biologists, oncologists, physicists, engineers, and computational/machine learning experts; and 23 Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Awards in a program that recognizes Dr. Sharp’s keen interest in active collaboration between different research teams. SU2C has also awarded 46 Innovative Research Grants to early-career scientists to support cutting-edge cancer research that would be deemed too high risk to receive funding through traditional channels.
“We have a tremendous portfolio of active research grants to which the [Scientific Advisory Committee] gives continuing oversight to ensure that all units and researchers are making progress toward their goals,” Dr. Sharp said. “Elizabeth Blackburn is a highly accomplished scientist. Ray DuBois was instrumental in launching the SU2C Catalyst program in cooperation with industry collaborators. Lee Helman is, among other things, a national expert in pediatric cancer research, which is a continuing focus of SU2C.”
“The [Scientific Advisory Committee] stays engaged with our teams after they are selected, rigorously evaluating progress and offering guidance on how best to quickly translate research into treatments that will help patients,” said Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, President and Chief Executive Officer of SU2C. “That is one of the most distinctive hallmarks of the SU2C approach, and we are delighted that Drs. Blackburn, DuBois, and Helman are joining Drs. Sharp, Levine, and Nelson in leading the [Scientific Advisory Committee’s] efforts.”
More About the New Vice-Chairs
Dr. Blackburn received the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 2009 for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres as well as for her discovery of the enzyme telomerase, which plays a key role in cell replication, cell aging, and human cancers. Her research has revolutionized the understanding of how cells function and has been called one of the most important discoveries in the field of molecular genetics. She is the Morris Herzstein Professor Emerita in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California San Francisco and President Emerita of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Dr. DuBois was appointed Professor and Dean of the College of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in March 2016, after serving 4 years as Executive Director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University with a joint appointment in the Mayo College of Medicine. Before that, he was Provost and Executive Vice President and Professor of Cancer Medicine and Cancer Biology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He is an internationally renowned expert on the molecular and genetic bases of colorectal cancer.
Dr. Helman is Head of Basic and Translational Research within the Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Director of the Cancer and Blood Diseases Research Program at The Saban Research Institute of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles . He is also Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He served previously at the National Cancer Institute as Chief of the Pediatric Oncology Branch from 1997 to 2007 and as Scientific Director for Clinical Research in the Center for Cancer Research from 2007 to 2016. He is internationally recognized for his expertise in pediatric sarcomas. ■