Tony Hunter and Raymond N. DuBois awarded Landon-AACR Prizes for Cancer Research

March 01, 2004

Two scientists whose landmark discoveries in basic and translational research set the stage for new ways to treat and prevent cancer are being honored this year with the prestigious Landon-AACR Prizes for Cancer Research.

These prizes, offered by the Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation and the American Association for Cancer Research, are the largest offered to cancer researchers from a professional society of their peers. Each recipient receives an unrestricted cash award of $200,000 and presents a scientific lecture at the AACR Annual Meeting, held this year from March 27-31 in Orlando, Florida.

This year's winners are:"The work of these two scientists has resulted in significant breakthroughs in our understanding, treatment and prevention of cancer today," said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), AACR's chief executive officer. "We are very proud to present such prestigious prizes for basic and translational research to such outstanding scientists."

Since 1979, Tony Hunter has been investigating the role of critical molecular signals in the regulation, development and growth of cells and what happens when this process goes awry in cancer. Among other significant findings, Hunter discovered how phosphate molecules stimulate cell growth when they are attached to proteins by enzymes called tyrosine kinases. Hunter's work has led to intensive study of these kinases worldwide, which ultimately yielded several anti-cancer drugs that block the activity of tyrosine kinases. Many of these drugs are now undergoing clinical trials, and one - Gleevec - has been approved for treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia.

"I'm honored to have received this prestigious award from the Landon Foundation and the AACR," said Hunter. "I hope that this recognition underscores the vital importance of basic research in developing new treatments for cancer, and that it heralds an era of cancer treatments that can specifically halt cancer cells with a minimum of adverse effects."

Raymond DuBois is being honored for his groundbreaking contributions to the understanding of the role of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 or COX-2 in cancer and the potential for COX-2 inhibition in preventing and treating cancers. Dr. DuBois was the first to report the link between COX-2 and colon cancer, which set in motion later work that defined potential mechanisms and chemopreventive strategies to inhibit this enzyme's activity. Dr. DuBois performed the bench research that formed the underpinnings for this line of studies, and he then carried his findings into clinical trials. Several COX-2 inhibitor drugs, which suppress inflammation in the body, have either been approved or are being tested in patients to combat tumor formation and growth.

"I was surprised and humbled to learn that I'd been chosen to receive the Dorothy P. Landon Prize for Translational Cancer Research. It's a tremendous honor," said Dr. DuBois.

"Throughout my career I have been very fortunate to be associated with outstanding laboratory staff, students, postdocs and collaborators who have kept the faith and made this work possible.

"Recognition, such as this Landon award, is important to promote translational research activity and we are acutely aware of the need to hasten our efforts to better understand strategies and targets for cancer prevention so that we may save lives and reduce morbidity from this dreaded disease."

The Landon-AACR Prizes in Cancer Research were launched in the summer of 2002 to promote, recognize and reward seminal contributions to our understanding of cancer through basic and translational cancer research. These distinguished scientific prizes bring heightened public attention to landmark achievements in the continuing effort to prevent and cure cancer through quality research.
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Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is a professional society of more than 22,000 laboratory, translational and clinical scientists engaged in cancer research in the United States, Canada, and more than 60 other countries. AACR's mission is to accelerate the prevention and cure of cancer through research, education, communication and advocacy. Its principal activities include the publication of five major peer-reviewed scientific journals (Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and Molecular Cancer Research). AACR also holds an annual meeting with about 16,000 participants featuring presentations of new and significant discoveries in the cancer field, as well as more than either specialty meetings involving all of the important areas of basic, translational and clinical cancer research.

The Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation was created through a bequest from Mrs. Landon who willed that her estate be committed to medical research, especially cancer research and research into cancer-related diseases. R. Kirk Landon, son of Kirk A. Landon, serves as chairman of the Foundation's Board of Trustees. The Foundation accomplishes its mission through a variety of programs and initiatives, the first of which were the Landon-AACR Prizes.

For further information, please contact:

Andrew Porterfield
Associate Director of Communications
The Salk Institution for Biological Studies
858-453-4100 ext. 1340
porterfield@salk.edu

Cynthia Floyd Manley
Director, Media Relations and Publications
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
615-936-5711
Cynthia.manley@vanderbilt.edu

Photos of Drs. Hunter and DuBois can be downloaded from the AACR website: www.aacr.org.

American Association for Cancer Research

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