OncLive Honors 13 Cancer Care Pioneers

OncologyLive, Vol. 23/No. 11, Volume 23, Issue 11

In Partnership With:

Partner | Cancer Centers | <b>UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center </b>

For the 10th consecutive year, OncLive® is honored to recognize oncology leaders whose innovations have contributed to immeasurable improvements in outcomes for countless patients.

For the 10th consecutive year, OncLive® is honored to recognize oncology leaders whose innovations have contributed to immeasurable improvements in outcomes for countless patients. The 13 winners of the 2022 Giants of Cancer Care® awards have made their mark with novel therapies and protocols across the spectrum of care.

Breast Cancer

Carlos L. Arteaga, MD

UT Southwestern Medical Center/Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

  • Arteaga is the Lisa K. Simmons Distinguished Chair in Comprehensive Oncology, a professor of medicine, and associate dean of Oncology Programs at UT Southwestern Medical Center. He also serves as director of the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • Arteaga discovered the value of targeting TGF-β, which causes breast cancer to spread, metastasize, and develop resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs.
  • He was also among the first to report on cellular alterations that confer resistance to therapies targeted to the ERBB family of receptors, including HER2, which is known to be amplified in approximately 20% of all breast cancers.
  • Arteaga also participated in early studies which observed the synergistic effect of chemotherapy with anti-HER2 antibodies, contributing to the clinical development of trastuzumab (Herceptin) for the treatment of patients with HER2-overexpressing breast cancer.
  • He was also among the first investigators to observe that loss of tumor suppressor PTEN confers resistance to ERBB receptor–targeted therapies, such as EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Additionally, Arteaga helped contextualized the role of PI3K signaling on resistance to estrogen-targeting therapies in patients with breast cancer.

Community Outreach, Education, and/or Cancer Policy

Lori J. Pierce, MD

University of Michigan

  • Pierce is a professor of radiation oncology and vice provost for academic and faculty affairs at the University of Michigan Medical School.
  • In July 1992, Pierce and her colleagues published findings showing that Black patients had poorer overall survival than White patients following breast conserving surgery and radiation.
  • Pierce and her colleagues have shown that the androgen receptor (AR) inhibitor enzalutamide (Xtandi) improves sensitivity to radiation in estrogen receptor– negative breast cancers.
  • Pierce led a study in 2000 showing that women with BRCA1/2 germline mutations were not more likely to experience recurrence, distant relapse, or radiation- associated complications compared with women with wild-type breast cancer.
  • Pierce serves as the program director of the Michigan Radiation Oncology Quality Consortium.
  • Pierce is chair of the board of the American Society of Clinical Oncology after serving as president from 2020 to 2021. During her tenure, she selected “Equity: Every Patient. Every Day. Everywhere” as her presidential theme and launched initiatives to expand diversity in clinical trial enrollment and improve access to quality cancer prevention, screening, and treatment in underserved communities.

Gastrointestinal Cancers

Jaffer A. Ajani, MD

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Ajani is a professor of gastrointestinal medical oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
  • Ajani was the principal investigator for the phase 3 RATIONALE 302 trial (NCT03430843) evaluating tislelizumab for patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Results from that trial showed that the novel humanized immunoglobulin G4 anti–PD-1 antibody improved overall survival compared with chemotherapy as second-line therapy.
  • He was the coauthor of a study in which investigators performed a single-cell analysis of intratumoral heterogeneity to classify patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis. Ajani and his collaborators defined the extensive cellular heterogeneity and identified 2 distinct subtypes—gastric-like and intestine-like—correlated with patient survival. They also developed a 12-gene prognostic signature.
  • Ajani has served as chair of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s Esophageal/Gastric Cancers panel since 1997 and led the drafting of the 2022 clinical practice guidelines for gastric cancer.
  • He was a lead investigator of the CheckMate 577 trial (NCT02743494), which demonstrated a statistically significant disease-free survival benefit with adjuvant nivolumab (Opdivo) compared with placebo in patients with completely resected esophageal or gastroesophageal junction cancer with residual pathologic disease in patients who have received neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy. The data led to the agent’s approval for this population.

Genitourinary Cancers

Eric J. Small, MD

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

  • Small holds the Doris and Donald Fisher Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Cancer Research and the Stanford W. Ascherman and Norman R. Ascherman Endowed Chair at UCSF. He also serves as professor in residence of medicine and urology, deputy director and chief scientific officer, and coleader of the Prostate Cancer Program at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
  • In 2007, Small and colleagues published data from the first-in-human testing of ipilimumab (Yervoy) for patients with hormone-refractory prostate cancer, which showed that the CTLA-4 inhibitor was safe for this population.
  • Small was part of the team investigating sipuleucel-T (Provenge) and led a phase 3 trial evaluating its efficacy in patients with metastatic, asymptomatic, hormone- refractory prostate cancer. The FDA approved sipuleucel-T for men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer who had no or minimal symptoms in April 2010, making it the first therapeutic cancer vaccine to win agency approval.
  • He piloted the early trials targeting the androgen receptor in advanced prostate cancer and has played a key role in the development of the novel androgen signaling inhibitors abiraterone acetate (Zytiga) and apalutamide (Erleada) from first first-in-human studies to FDA approval.

Gynecologic Cancers

David M. Gershenson, MD

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Gershenson is a professor of gynecologic oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
  • He played a major role in designing and initiating clinical trials focused on novel therapeutics for patients with rare ovarian cancers.
  • In 2009, Gershenson was the principal investigator for a retrospective study establishing that chemoresistance was prevalent in low-grade serious ovarian carcinoma, suggesting that targeted agents would be more effective.
  • Gershenson was a coauthor on a 2017 study establishing the poor prognosis associated with advanced-stage or recurrent ovarian clear cell and mucinous carcinomas.
  • He was the principal investigator for the phase 2/3 GOG281/LOGS trial (NCT02101788), which showed that the MEK1/2 inhibitor trametinib (Mekinist) extended progression-free survival in patients with recurrent low-grade serous ovarian cancer compared with existing standard-of-care chemotherapy or antiestrogen regimens.
  • Gershenson’s participation on several committees and organizations underscore his commitment to raising awareness of rare ovarian tumors. He is a former chair of the Rare Tumor Working Group of the Gynecologic Cancer Intergroup and previously served as the chair of the Rare Tumor Committee of the Gynecologic Oncology Group.

Leukemia

John F. DiPersio, MD, PhD

Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center/Washington University School of Medicine

  • DiPersio is the Virginia E. and Sam J. Golman Professor in Medicine, chief of the Division of Oncology, director of the Center for Gene and Cellular Immunotherapy, and deputy director of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center. He also serves as professor of medicine, pathology and immunology at the Washington University School of Medicine.
  • DiPersio is internationally known for his expertise in T-cell function and stem cell research, as well as his achievements in experimental sequencing of cancer genomes and innovations in stem cell transplantation. His current research focuses on graft-vs-host disease and developing novel therapeutics for patients with acute myeloid leukemia.
  • His research demonstrated that the hematopoietic stem cell mobilizer plerixafor (Mozobil) blocks the chemokine receptor CXCR4, which enables mobilization of leukemic cells to peripheral blood and sensitizes them to chemotherapy. The FDA approved plerixafor in combination with growth- colony stimulating factor for patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma in 2008.
  • DiPersio was a coauthor for the COMFORT series of trials evaluating ruxolitinib (Jakafi). The FDA approved the JAK inhibitor in 2011, the first agent approved to treat patients with intermediate-2/high-risk myelofibrosis.

Lung Cancer

Roy S. Herbst, MD, PhD

Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital/Yale School of Medicine

  • Herbst is Ensign Professor of Medicine (Medical Oncology), chief of medical oncology and a professor of pharmacology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, and associate cancer center director for Translational Science at Yale Cancer Center. He also serves as assistant dean for Translational Research at the Yale School of Medicine.
  • Herbst and his colleagues were among the first to describe the PD-1/PD-L1 adaptive immune response in early-phase trials, and to offer trials of the PD-L1 inhibitor atezolizumab (Tecentriq) and the PD-1 inhibitor pembrolizumab (Keytruda) for patients with lung cancer.
  • He was the corresponding author for the ADAURA trial (NCT02511106), which showed that osimertinib (Tagrisso) extended disease-free survival in patients with EGFR-mutated non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
  • Herbst led the early-phase development of therapies targeting the EGFR and VEGF signaling pathways such as gefitinib (Iressa), erlotinib (Tarceva), axitinib (Inlyta), cetuximab (Erbitux), and bevacizumab (Avastin).
  • Herbst is the study chair for LungMAP, an umbrella trial exploring targeted therapies for patients with advanced NSCLC conducted at more than 700 sites in the United States.

Lymphoma

Julie M. Vose, MD, MBA

University of Nebraska Medical Center

  • Vose is chief of the Division of Oncology and Hematology and the Neumann M. and Mildred E. Harris Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
  • Vose is known internationally as a leading expert in the treatment of patients with Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). As codirector of the James O. Armitage Center for Hematological Malignancies Research and a director of the Nebraska Lymphoma Study Group, Vose has been on the ground floor of conducting and archiving pivotal research including histopathologic, immunologic, and molecular characterization on patients treated by the study group.
  • She initiated the North American Mantle Cell Lymphoma Project in 2013, aiming to evaluate the clinical, biological, and genomic markers affecting outcomes in patients with mantle cell lymphoma. Investigators in the project have developed the simplified Mantle Cell Lymphoma International Prognostic Index (MIPI) scoring system to quantify risk more accurately in this patient population.
  • Vose has focused her career on translational research aimed at the improvement of therapy for Hodgkin lymphoma and NHL including the development of brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris), an antibody-drug conjugate directed at CD30 that is now approved for use in several hematologic malignancies.

Myeloma

Robert Z. Orlowski, MD, PhD

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Orlowski is chairman ad interim, director of myeloma, the Florence Maude Thomas Cancer Research Professorship, and professor of medicine in the departments of lymphoma/myeloma and experimental therapeutics at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
  • Orlowski was the first to document the clinical effectiveness of bortezomib (Velcade) in patients with multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma.
  • He played a prominent role in the development of the bortezomib/doxorubicin combination and carfilzomib (Kyprolis) for patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, spearheading their development from the preclinical stage through to phase 1 and phase 3 studies.
  • His research into the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway and its link to apoptosis led to the validation of proteasome inhibitors, both alone and in combination with other agents, as rationally designed therapeutics.
  • Orlowski has developed and characterized models of drug-resistance to several novel agents including bortezomib, carfilzomib, lenalidomide (Revlimid), and pomalidomide (Pomalyst).
  • His laboratory identified the zinc finger transcription factor ZKSCAN3 as a novel mediator of myeloma and lymphoma proliferation and the tight junction protein TJP1 as a mediator of drug response to proteasome inhibitors in myeloma therapy.

Prevention/Genetics

Louis M. Staudt, MD, PhD

National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research/Center for Cancer Genomics

  • Staudt is chief of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Lymphoid Malignancies Branch, director of the NCI Center for Cancer Genomics, and a National Institutes of Health distinguished investigator.
  • He was the first to identify 2 subtypes of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) as molecularly distinct diseases. Staudt discovered that activated B cell-like (ABC) and germinal center B cell-like (GCB) DLBCL subtypes had significantly different 5-year overall survival rates.
  • Staudt established that survival following chemotherapy among patients with DLBCL correlated with molecular features. These findings had applications across other malignancies including chronic lymphocytic leukemia, mantle cell lymphoma, and follicular lymphoma.
  • His research in gene-expression profiling led to the identification of 7 distinct subtypes of DLBCL, allowing for precision medicine approaches in the field.
  • Staudt’s research uncovered the importance of NF-κβ pathway as a target, first in patients with ABC DLBCL, leading to the development of agents such as ibrutinib (Imbruvica), which inhibits B-cell receptors and NF-κβ signaling.

Radiation Oncology

Patricia J. Eifel, MD

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

  • Eifel serves as a clinical professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson). For 20 years, she served as chief of the Gynecology Service at MD Anderson.
  • She was principal investigator for the seminal study Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG) 90-01. Those findings demonstrated that the addition of chemotherapy to radiation improved survival for women with cervical cancer, establishing a new standard of care.
  • Eifel’s investigations into the internal motion of pelvic target volume have illustrated the complexity of highly conformal external beam delivery and underlined the continued importance of brachytherapy, patenting an adaptive intracavitary brachytherapy applicator with a movable shield.
  • In 1982, she became the first woman hired as a faculty member at the Joint Center for Radiation Therapy at Harvard Medical School. She has served as both president and board chair of the American Society for Radiation Oncology. She has published more than 200 peer-reviewed publications as well as numerous books and book chapters. She authored the textbook, Gynecologic Radiation Oncology: A Practical Guide, which details approaches to common and rare gynecologic cancers treated with radiation.

Supportive, Palliative, and/or Geriatric Care

Jennifer Temel, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School

  • Temel is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, clinical director of thoracic oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital, codirector of the Cancer Outcomes Research and Education Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, and coleader of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Outcomes Research Program.
  • She led studies exploring early integration of palliative care in the ambulatory care setting. She and her fellow researchers found that patients with metastatic non–small cell lung cancer who received early palliative care experienced a better quality of life, reduced burden of symptoms, and less depression as well as a longer median survival time. These results led to evidence-based clinical guidance recommending the expanded use of palliative care for patients with metastatic cancer and high symptom burden.
  • The American Society of Clinical Oncology issued a new policy statement recommending that physicians initiate candid discussions about the full range of treatment and palliative care options soon after patients’ diagnosis with advanced cancer based on her findings in January 2011.
  • In 2017, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine named Temel as one of the 30 most influential leaders in hospice and palliative medicine.

Translational Science

Luis Alberto Diaz Jr, MD

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

  • Diaz is head of the Division of Solid Tumor Oncology and the Grayer Family Chair at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In 2021, President Joseph R. Biden appointed him to the 7-member National Cancer Advisory Board.
  • His landmark proof-of-principle study using the immunotherapy PD-1 blockade in patients with colorectal cancer whose tumors are mismatch repair–deficient showed dramatic responses in patients who had failed standard therapy, resulting in a new indication for pembrolizumab (Keytruda). Pembrolizumab was the first agent approved based on a genetic profile rather than the site of disease.
  • Diaz codiscovered the role KRAS mutations play as an acquired resistance mechanism to anti-EGFR antibodies in colorectal cancer.
  • He was a pioneer in providing the first definitive examples of circulating tumor DNA being successfully used as a biomarker for screening, monitoring, and detection of patients with an increased risk of recurrence.
  • Diaz and his colleagues developed the basis for a molecular Papanicolaou test to detect early-stage ovarian and endometrial cancers based on genetic markers found in DNA from liquid specimens.