Joseph Tomaszewski, PhD, has retired from his most recent position as Deputy Director of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis at the National Cancer Institute. He had served in the role since 2005, and before that was Chief of NCI's Developmental Therapeutics Program in the Toxicology and Pharmacology Branch for 20 years (and until 2008).
As Deputy Director, he was instrumental in the development of NCI's Experimental Therapeutics (NExT) Program, consolidating NCI's anticancer drug discovery and development resources in support of a robust, balanced, and goal-driven therapeutics pipeline.
Additionally, he played a key role in developing the Chemical Biology Consortium, the drug discovery engine of NExT, to revitalize early drug discovery at the NCI. In 2005 he created the Laboratory of Human Toxicology and Pharmacology, which has been responsible for developing human in vitro toxicology assays and the development of numerous state-of-the-art pharmacodynamics biomarker assays. He was responsible for developing a new pharmacodynamics initiative within NCI to support early clinical trials under the FDA's Exploratory-IND Guidance as well as PK/PD driven Phase I clinical trials.
As Chief of the Toxicology and Pharmacology Branch, he had responsibility for the preclinical toxicological and pharmacological evaluation of all new cancer drugs that were developed by the NCI and for non-oncology therapeutics under the NIDDK Type 1 Diabetes RAID and NIH RAID Pilot Programs.
Several members of the oncology community have been selected to become Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators. HHMI will provide each investigator with his or her full salary, benefits, and a research budget over the initial five-year appointment.
The Institute will also cover other expenses, including research space and the purchase of critical equipment. The appointment may be renewed for additional five-year terms, each contingent on a successful scientific review.
“Scientific discovery requires original thinking and creativity,” HHMI President Robert Tjian, said in a news release. “Every scientist selected has demonstrated these qualities. One of the most important things we can do at HHMI is to continue to support and encourage the best discovery research.”
Twenty six biomedical researchers were selected this year to be HHMI investigators, including these members of the oncology community:
- Sue Biggins, PhD, of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center;
- Squire J. Booker, PhD, of Pennsylvania State University;
- Levi A. Garraway, MD, PhD, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute;
- Britt A. Glaunsinger, PhD, of University of California, Berkeley;
- Reuben S. Harris, PhD, of University of Minnesota;
- Hening Lin, PhD, of Cornell University;
- Joshua T. Mendell, MD, PhD, of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; and
- Jennifer A. Zallen, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Margaret Foti, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the American Association for Cancer Research, was recognized as a 2015 Honoree of the “one hundred” by Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center for her “dedication and commitment to solving cancer through research” and her “passionate advocacy for increased federal funding for cancer research and biomedical science.” Each year, 100 individuals and groups—including caregivers, researchers, philanthropists, advocates, and volunteers—whose commitment to the fight against cancer inspires other to take action are selected through a public nomination process and celebrated at a spring gala.
During Foti's tenure as CEO of AACR, the organization's membership has grown from approximately 3,000 to 35,000; the organization's comprehensive program of national and international conferences and workshops has grown; and AACR's portfolio of peer-reviewed scientific journals to disseminate new research findings has increased from one to eight. Foti also leads the AACR's scientific partnership with Stand Up To Cancer, the charitable initiative that supports groundbreaking translational research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated time frame.
Six New York City-based scientists were recently awarded the second annual Pershing Square Sohn Prizes for Young Investigators in Cancer Research by The Pershing Square Sohn Cancer Research Alliance. Each recipient will receive $200,000 of funding per year for up to three years to enable them to continue to pursue explorative and high-risk/high-reward research.
The prizes were developed to help bridge the gap between academia and the business community and support young scientists at a formative stage in their careers. Each recipient is given a mentor in the pharmaceutical industry and the opportunity to present his or her work to scientific and business audiences.
The recipients are:
- Timothy Chan, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, whose research focuses on defining the molecular determinants that cause sensitivity and resistance to immune checkpoint blockage therapy in melanoma and lung cancer patients;
- Arvin Dar, PhD, of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, whose research focuses on developing a pharmacological strategy to selectively reduce mutant RAS signaling, thereby improving outcomes for as many as one in four for melanoma, lung, and prostate cancer patients;
- Evripidis Gavathiotis, PhD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, whose research focuses on developing insight on apoptosis regulation of cancer cells and discovering innovative pharmacological approaches that may lead to effective therapies for pancreatic cancer patients;
- Mortiz Kircher, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, whose research focuses on refining the unique imaging capabilities that detect pancreatic cancer and integrating novel therapeutic weapons into SERRS-nanostars;
- Christine Mayr, MD, PhD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, whose research proposes inhibiting only specific functions in a protein instead of the entire protein in order to open up new avenues for cancer treatment and reverse cancer progression in leukemia and lymphoma patients; and
- Sohail Tavazoie, MD, PhD, of The Rockefeller University, whose research focuses on finding a new way to identify and then block the tRNA fragments that cause metastatic cancer in melanoma and breast cancer patients.
Also, finalists Christopher Mason, PhD, of Weill Cornell Medical College, and Christopher Vakoc, MD, PhD, of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, were awarded funding for one year and encouraged to reapply for next year's prizes for their exceptional work. Mason's work focuses on epigenetics and Vakoc's on potential leukemia therapies.
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