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doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000479776.17581.57
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The American Cancer Society has awarded five Medals of Honor, the society's highest honor, to four individuals and one foundation to recognize the most valuable contributions and impact in the fight to end cancer in the categories of basic research, clinical research, cancer control, and philanthropy.

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“Our Medal of Honor recipients truly embody what the American Cancer Society is all about,” ACS Chief Executive Officer Gary Reedy said in a news release. “Each of the recipients has significantly contributed to the advancement and impact of our collective efforts to eliminate cancer as a major health problem.”

The recipients are:

  • James P. Allison, PhD, Professor and Chair of Immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who received an ACS Medal of Honor for Basic Research, which recognizes his work on the regulation of immune cell activation and defining immune check point blockade;
  • Steven A. Rosenberg, MD, PhD, Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute and Professor of Surgery at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, who received an ACS Medal of Honor for Basic Research, which recognizes his in-depth understanding of the immunology of cancer, and how to harness the body's own cancer-fighting cells;
  • Jack Cuzick, PhD, Director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and Head of the Centre for Cancer Prevention and the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Queen Mary, University of London, who received an ACS Medal of Honor for Clinical Research, which recognizes his contributions to the field of biostatistics, epidemiology, and clinical medicine;
  • Sidney Jerome Winawer, MD, attending physician and member with tenure at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Professor of Medicine and the Paul Sherlock Chair in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical School, who received the ACS Medal of Honor for Cancer Control, which recognizes his lifetime contributions and dedication to advance screening and prevention of colorectal cancer; and
  • The Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, based in Minneapolis and Naples, Florida, which received the ACS Medal of Honor for Philanthropy for a $7.5 million grant to expand the Hope Lodge in Rochester, Minnesota, and to build the Twin Cities Hope Lodge in Minneapolis.

Maciej (Matt) Lesniak, MD, has joined Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University as the Michael J. Marchese Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He will also have a leadership role in the expansion of the neuro-oncology related initiatives at Lurie and its Brain Tumor Institute.

“Matt is a superb surgeon and an exceptionally accomplished physician-scientist,” Leonidas Platanias, MD, PhD, Director of the Lurie Cancer Center, said in a news release. “His research is supported by one of the largest grant portfolios in the country, and his presence will expand our strengths as a leader in neuro-oncology research.”

Lesniak's research focuses on novel targeted therapies for brain cancer, including gene therapy, stem cell biology, immunotherapy, and nanotechnology. He is currently principal investigator for six National Institutes of Health-funded grants, and recently received the 2015 National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award for exceptional and transformative cancer research.

Kiran K. Turaga, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Surgery at Medical College of Wisconsin, has been named the Sharon K. Wadina Endowed Professor in Sarcoma Research. He also serves as Director of Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin's Regional Cancer Therapy Program. He has been at MCW since 2010.

Turaga had previously completed a surgical oncology fellowship at Moffitt Cancer and Research Institute at the University of Florida. He is a section editor for the Annals of Surgical Oncology; and serves on the Mesothelioma Research Foundation's scientific advisory board.

Yutaka Kondo, of Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences; and Junko Takita, of the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo, have both received the Japanese Cancer Association-Mauvernay Award during the General Assembly of the 74th Annual Meeting of the Japanese Cancer Association. The award, supported by the JCA and Debiopharm Group, recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of oncology by Japanese researchers in both the fundamental and clinical aspects. Each award includes a prize of CHF 25'000 (approximately $25,364).

Kondo's award recognizes his basic research on targeting epigenetics as a new cancer treatment. His work focuses on the functional impact of aberrant epigenetic mechanisms on tumorigenesis and the potential clinical application in cancer detection, classification, and therapeutic targets validation.

Takita's award recognizes her applied research on identification of molecular therapeutic targets for pediatric cancers. Her work focuses on the molecular mechanisms of intractable pediatric cancers, including neuroblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, pleuropulmonary blastoma, and hematological malignancies.

The following members of the oncology community have each received $180,000 grants from the Cambia Health Foundation through its annual Sojourns Scholar Leadership Program to promote palliative care workforce development by funding research, clinical, educational, or policy projects:

  • Rachel Bernacki, MD, MS, of Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Ariadne Labs;
  • Dulce Cruz-Oliver, MD, CMD, of Saint Louis University; and
  • Thomas LeBlanc, MD, of Duke University School of Medicine.

Michael Khodadoust, MD, PhD, a hematology and oncology fellow at Stanford University, has received the 2015 Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Young Investigator Award, to recognize his research, “Tumor Antigen Identification in a Study of Therapeutic Tumor Vaccination in Mantle Cell Lymphoma.” The grant is intended to provide funding opportunities to young oncologists beginning their careers who do not have the full extent of resources that are often available to more established researchers.

Khodadoust's research focuses on the prediction and validation of tumor antigens, with a focus on mantle-cell lymphoma. He has been investigating immune responses in an ongoing clinical trial incorporating tumor vaccination into the current standard of care. On the basis of encouraging results with intratumoral CpG, the toll-like receptor 9 agonist, in the treatment of lymphoma, the trial aims to produce antilymphoma immune responses through stimulation with CpG and vaccination with autologous tumor. The aim of Khodadoust's work overall is to identify the antigens that drive the immune responses.

Howard L. McLeod, PharmD, FCCP, Medical Director of the DeBartolo Family Personalized Medicine Institute at Moffitt Cancer Center, has received the Russell R. Miller Award at the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Global Conference. The award recognizes an individual's substantial contributions to the literature of clinical pharmacy, thereby advancing both clinical pharmacy practice and rational pharmacotherapy.

“Dr. McLeod is at the forefront of oncology precision medicine. His research has given clinicians and researchers a better understanding of how genetics can impact the effectiveness of medication and why it should be used when establishing a treatment plan,” Moffitt Director Thomas A. Sellers, PhD, MPH, said in a news release.

Cynthia Stutzer, MS, RN, Clinical Nurse Specialist at British Columbia's Children Hospital, has received the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses 2015 Casey Hooke Distinguished Service Award. The award is presented to an APHON member who has demonstrated excellence to service and leadership of the organization.

Stutzer has been an active APHON member for more than 26 years, and has been Assistant Editor of the Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing for 14 years.

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