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doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000494638.11679.16
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AACR Mourns Loss of Distinguished Cancer Researcher & Fellow of the AACR Academy

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is deeply saddened by the loss of Alfred G. Knudson, Jr., MD, PhD, a pioneering cancer researcher who is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking “two-hit” hypothesis, which helped provide the basis for the current understanding of the genetic origins of cancer. Knudson, who passed away July 10 at 93, was elected as an inaugural Fellow of the AACR Academy.

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Figure

Alfred G. Knudson, Jr., MD, PhD

Alfred G. Knudson, Jr., MD, PhD

Knudson was a world-renowned cancer geneticist and physician who treated children with retinoblastoma, a rare type of cancer. He proposed the two-hit hypothesis in 1971 to explain the relationship between the hereditary and nonhereditary forms of retinoblastoma, 15 years before molecular technologies were available to compare genetic differences between tumors in patients with hereditary versus sporadic cancers.

The two-hit hypothesis predicted the existence of tumor suppressor genes that can suppress cancer cell growth. Knudson subsequently mapped the retinoblastoma susceptibility gene to chromosome band 13q14, laying the foundation for the eventual cloning of RB1, the first tumor suppressor gene.

The now-confirmed two-hit hypothesis advanced understanding of the genetic mutations that turn normal cells into cancer cells. It also guided the work of many geneticists and molecular biologists over the years and provided powerful insights into the development of cancer as well as cancer treatment and prevention.

Knudson's scientific accomplishments have been widely recognized. He was the recipient of the Charles S. Mott General Motors Cancer Research Foundation Prize in 1988, the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor in 1989, the Canada Gairdner International Award in 1997, the Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research in 1998, the Distinguished Career Award from the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology in 1999, the Kyoto Prize in 2004, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Freedom to Discover Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research in 2005, and the AACR Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. Knudson was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1992 and was elected an inaugural Fellow of the AACR Academy in 2013.

In addition to his academic and research contributions, Knudson was an active member of the AACR since 1976, serving as associate editor of Cancer Research from 1985 to 2000 and the editorial board of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention from 1991 to 1998. Additionally, he was a member of the 2012 AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Committee.

Knudson was a senior member of the scientific research staff at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia since 1976, including serving as Director of the Fox Chase Institute for Cancer Research from 1976 until 1982, President of Fox Chase Cancer Center from 1980 to 1982, and Scientific Director of the cancer center from 1982 to 1983.

Beyond his many achievements as a distinguished researcher and renowned leader of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Knudson was well-known for his passionate commitment to mentoring students, fellows, early-career scientists, and senior investigators. His selfless dedication to mentorship helped inspire generations of leaders in the field of cancer research.

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Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Welcomes Four Leaders to Its Board

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network adds four leaders from across the country to its Scientific and Medical Advisory Board (SMAB).

“Members of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network Scientific and Medical Advisory Board have committed their careers to change the course of a deadly and complex disease,” said Steven Leach, MD, Chair of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network SMAB and Director of the David M. Rubenstein Center for Pancreatic Cancer Research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “I'm pleased to welcome these outstanding individuals to our community of trailblazers.”

The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network shares resources and speak with more pancreatic cancer patients and caregivers than any other organization in the world.

Distinguished members of the SMAB represent some of the most lauded medical and research institutions in the country. Members of the volunteer board provide guidance to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network in prioritizing and implementing research initiatives. Additionally, members provide direction on vital patient service programs, including Know Your Tumor, Clinical Trial Finder, and the Patient Registry.

The newly appointed members of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network SMAB will serve 3-year terms effective July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2019:

  • Eric Collisson, MD: Medical oncologist and Associate Professor at the University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology and Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Collisson's clinical research focuses on basic themes in biology and clinical behaviors of gastrointestinal malignancies.
  • Andrew M. Lowy, MD, FACS: Professor of Surgery and Director of Surgical Oncology at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego. Lowy is recognized for his expertise in the surgical treatment of pancreatic cancer, and he conducts clinical and basic research focused on pancreatic cancer as well.
  • He serves as chair of the National Cancer Institute's Pancreatic Cancer Task Force, which is charged with setting the direction of clinical research in pancreatic cancer in the U.S. Lowy currently serves as the surgical principal investigator in the largest pancreatic cancer clinical trial ever conducted in the U.S.
  • Nicholas N. Nissen, MD: Director, Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgery and Liver Transplant at Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles. Nissen's clinical and research efforts focus on improving the safety and success of liver and pancreatic surgery, and in establishing patient-centered multidisciplinary treatment teams.
  • Rosalie C. Sears, PhD: Professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Genetics, Co-Director of the Brenden-Colson Center for Pancreatic Care, and Senior Member, Knight Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.
Eric Collisson, MD

Eric Collisson, MD

Andrew M. Lowy, MD, FACS

Andrew M. Lowy, MD, FACS

Nicholas N. Nissen, MD

Nicholas N. Nissen, MD

Rosalie C. Sears, PhD

Rosalie C. Sears, PhD

Sears studies cellular signaling pathways that control tumor cell behavior, which contributed to development of a drug that dramatically inhibits tumor growth and significantly extends survival in mouse pancreas cancer models.

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Maryland Proton Treatment Center Names New Medical Director

Charles B. Simone, II, MD, has been named the new Medical Director of the Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC) beginning in November 2016.

Charles B. Simone, II, MD

Charles B. Simone, II, MD

In this position, Simone will continue to define and implement processes ensuring that MPTC is integrated into the radiation oncology program and the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Maryland Medical Center/System, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM).

He will also participate in development of clinical trials and research protocols; assume a leadership role within the Maryland Proton Alliance, a partnership between UM SOM and MPTC; and provide expertise in refining criteria for proton therapy patient selection within the department's clinical practice guidelines.

Prior to coming to MPTC, Simone was Co-Director of the Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Program at the University of Pennsylvania Health System. He was also Associate Professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Thoracic Oncology Service Chief for the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

He is nationally recognized as an expert for the use of proton therapy in the treatment of thoracic malignancies, development of clinical trial strategies, and innovative research in thoracic radiation oncology. He chairs the Lung Committee of the Proton Collaborative Group, a national cooperative research coalition, is a member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology Lung Resource Panel, and a member of the NRG Oncology Lung Cancer Committee and the NRG Oncology Radiation Oncology Committee.

In his research, Simone has worked extensively on radiation therapy for thoracic tumors. He has coauthored more than 150 peer-reviewed manuscripts, chapters, reviews, and editorials, and has presented more than 100 scientific lectures to national and international audiences.

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Cancer Prevention Expert Named to HHS 2018 Advisory Committee

Anne McTiernan, MD, PhD, a breast cancer epidemiologist and cancer prevention expert at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, has been appointed to the 2018 Physical Guidelines Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Anne Mctiernan, MD, PhD

Anne Mctiernan, MD, PhD

She is among 17 nationally recognized experts in physical activity and health to serve on the committee. Over the next 2 years, the committee will examine current scientific evidence on the link between physical activity and health outcomes, and ultimately will submit evidence-based recommendations in a scientific advisory report to the secretary of HHS. These recommendations will help inform the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which is expected to be released in 2018.

McTiernan is a member of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch, where cancer prevention is a major focus of research. McTiernan has led groundbreaking randomized clinical trials that have shown regular moderate aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day) significantly reduces risk factors for breast cancer in women and colon cancer in men.

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Cancer Surgeon Named Finalist for 2016 Giants of Cancer Care Recognition

Norman Wolmark, MD, an internationally recognized cancer surgeon and Medical Director of Breast Surgical Oncology, Cancer Research and Clinical Trials at Allegheny Health Network (AHN), has been named a finalist in the 2016 Giants of Cancer Care recognition program. The finalists were selected for their achievements, talents, and compassionate care to patients and families in oncology research and clinical practice.

Norman Wolmark, MD

Norman Wolmark, MD

Wolmark is Chairman of the NSABP Foundation and Chair and principal investigator of NCI-funded NRG Oncology. The NSABP has a nearly 60-year history of conducting groundbreaking research studies in breast and colorectal cancer, enrolling more than 110,000 men and women in clinical trials, and coordinating research at nearly 700 major medical centers, university hospitals, large oncology practice groups, and health maintenance organizations in the U.S., Canada, and Ireland.

A member of a number of professional associations and organizations including the American Surgical Association, Wolmark is widely published, with more than 400 scientific journal articles and book chapters in print. He is a widely sought-after speaker and lecturer in his field and serves on the editorial board of The Journal of Clinical Oncology, JAMA, and The Lancet, on numerous advisory boards, and as an advisor to oncology programs, societies, and institutes throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Wolmark is a finalist in the breast cancer category along with Larry Norton, MD, of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Sandra Swain, MD, of Washington Cancer Institute, Georgetown University; Martine Piccart, MD, PhD, Universite Libre de Bruxelles; and Umberto Veronisi, MD, European Institute of Oncology.

Now in its fourth year, the Giants of Cancer Care recognition program celebrates the achievements of leading physicians and researchers who have devoted their time, talent, and resources to improving care for the many patients and their families affected by cancer. Their discoveries have propelled the field forward and established the building blocks for future advances.

Unlike other programs, the Giants of Cancer Care honors specialists nominated by their peers. Recipients demonstrate the qualities that distinguish this award from others: unlimited selflessness, compassion for their patients, and a desire to understand and develop life-changing treatments against a disease that affects so many.

The winners will be announced at the 34th Annual Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium: Innovative Cancer Therapy for Tomorrow, Nov. 9-11, at the New York Marriott Marquis.

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Society for Epidemiologic Research Elects President

Andrew Olshan, PhD, Associate Director of Population Sciences and co-leader of the epidemiology program at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chapel Hill, has been elected President of the Society for Epidemiologic Research. He currently is serving as President-Elect and will become President of the organization in July 2017.

Andrew Olshan, PhD

Andrew Olshan, PhD

Olshan is a leading expert in the molecular epidemiology of cancers of the head and neck and evaluation of risk factors for childhood cancer as well as reproductive, perinatal, and pediatric epidemiology.

He is the Barbara Sorenson Hulka Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a Professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at the UNC School of Medicine. Olshan also is the principal investigator of the Carolina Head and Neck Cancer Study, co-principal investigator for the Carolina Breast Cancer Study, and he leads the North Carolina Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention.

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WVU Cancer Institute Fellow Receives ASCO Merit Award

Mark Knestrick, MD, a recent graduate of WVU's Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program, received a 2016 Conquer Cancer Foundation of ASCO Merit Award. The Merit Award is open to oncology trainees who are first authors on abstracts selected for presentation at an ASCO scientific meeting, including the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago where Knestrick presented his research: Benefits of physician orders for scope of treatment (POST) forms on end-of-life care in cancer patients: Insights from the West Virginia registry (Abstract 10006).

Mark Knestrick, MD

Mark Knestrick, MD

The research indicated that POST forms when compared to traditional advance directives (living will or medical power of attorney) were associated with a greater achievement of quality metrics for end-of-life care in cancer patients.

Knestrick teamed up with Alvin H. Moss, MD, of WVU Medicine and Section Chief of Supportive Care Services and Sandra Pedraza, MD, also of Supportive Care Services, on the research project.

This WVU research was also selected for presentation and discussion at the Best of ASCO meetings, which highlight the most cutting-edge science and education from the ASCO Annual Meeting.

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