Dana-Farber researchers receive AACR 2024 Scientific Achievement Awards

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Christopher D.M. Fletcher, MD, Timothy R. Rebbeck, PhD, David Pellman, MD, and Gordon J. Freeman, PhD, will be recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) with 2024 Scientific Achievement Awards. The four researchers will be honored during the AACR Annual Meeting 2024, to be held April 5-10 at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

Fletcher will receive the AACR James S. Ewing-Thelma B. Dunn Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pathology in Cancer Research. This award, named for the AACR's first President, James S. Ewing, MD, and the AACR's first female President, Thelma B. Dunn, MD, both of whom were pathologists, serves to recognize and celebrate pathologists who have significantly contributed to advancing cancer research, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Fletcher, emeritus chief of onco-pathology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is being recognized for breakthrough discoveries that have led to the molecular characterization of soft tissue tumors and for transforming the cancer pathology field by providing expert insights into tumor diagnosis and clinical prognosis. Fletcher was the first to integrate morphological aspects of soft tissues with the characterization of genetic insults leading to the definition of more than 40 distinct molecular and morphological characteristics capable of classifying mesenchymal neoplasms. These categorized molecular signatures have since contributed to the establishment of innovative therapies for cancer patients worldwide.

Fletcher's award lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 9, at 4 p.m. PT.

Rebbeck will receive the AACR-American Cancer Society Award for Research Excellence in Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention. This award, supported by the American Cancer Society, recognizes outstanding research accomplishments in cancer epidemiology, biomarkers, and prevention.

Rebbeck, the Vincent L. Gregory, Jr. Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, director of the Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and director of the Center for Global Health Equity at Dana-Farber, is being recognized for groundbreaking contributions to optimizing standards of cancer prevention in clinical practice and to reducing cancer mortality by characterizing the role of BRCA1/2 mutations in high-risk breast and ovarian cancer populations, and by quantifying prostate cancer risk in the global African diaspora using clinical patient data, conglomerate genotypes, and tumor biomarkers.

Rebbeck's award lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 9, at 3 p.m. PT.

Pellman will receive the AACR-G.H.A. Clowes Award for Outstanding Basic Cancer Research. This award, supported by Loxo@Lilly, is intended to recognize an individual who has made outstanding recent accomplishments in basic cancer research.

Pellman, the Margaret M. Dyson Professor of Pediatric Oncology and the Associate Director for Basic Science at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, is being recognized for pioneering work identifying mechanisms responsible for the structural and numerical chromosome aberrations in cancer. Through the development of innovative murine models, Pellman demonstrated that whole genome duplication, now known to occur in approximately 40% of human cancers, has the potential to accelerate the somatic evolution of cancer. He also identified a mechanism explaining chromothripsis, a massive form of chromosome rearrangement that is also common in cancer. Using in-house developed methodology to combine long-term, live-cell imaging with single-cell whole genome sequencing, his group has recreated chromothripsis in the laboratory, demonstrating that it can arise from cancer-associated aberrations of the nucleus called micronuclei, thereby contributing to the mechanistic understanding of cancer genome instability.

Pellman's award lecture will be held on Monday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. PT.

Freeman, whose award was previously announced, will receive the AACR-Cancer Research Institute Lloyd J. Old Award in Cancer Immunology.

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