The theme of this year’s AACR meeting "Delivering Cures Through Cancer Science," reinforces the inextricable link between research and advances in patient care. The relationship between research and cancer care and cancer outcomes was recognized by BCRF Founder Evelyn Lauder and Scientific Director Larry Norton as fundamental to changing the breast cancer experience, and ultimately ending breast cancer as we know it. It is only fitting that this year’s AACR Annual meeting began with the recognition of a longtime BCRF investigator for his lifetime contributions to cancer research.
Dr. Robert Weinberg, BCRF investigator since 2003 was honored with the 2016 AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research for his seminal contributions to cancer research, which included the discovery of the first oncogene, Ras and the tumor suppressor gene, retinoblastoma protein (Rb). These discoveries fundamentally changed how we think about cancer. More recently. Dr. Weinberg's work has focused on understanding the complex mechanisms in tumor cell invasion and metastasis, in particular a process called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, by which tumor cells are transformed to malignant and spread to other tissues.
In addition to his extraordinary research accomplishments, Weinberg is the co-author, with Douglas Hanahan, of one of most influential papers in the field of cancer research, called “The Hallmarks of Cancer.” Weinberg and Hanahan updated these concepts 11 years later in an equally acclaimed paper, “Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation.”
In introducing Dr. Weinberg, Dr. Lewis Cantley described his seminal contributions to cancer research as forming the basis of our understanding of cancer biology and laying the groundwork for numerous other discoveries. In his acceptance remarks, Dr. Weinberg emphasized the importance of discovery-based, laboratory research to advancing the field. He noted a shift in emphasis in cancer research away from laboratory-based studies to genomics-based translational science. "This shift," he said, "has resulted in fewer early career scientists pursuing discovery-based, hypothesis-generating research and fewer research dollars to support and cultivate the intellectual pool needed to sustain the laboratory research that is fundamental to advancing the goals of precision medicine."
BCRF joins the AACR in honoring Dr. Weinberg and congratulates him on this prestigious award.
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