OncLive® is honored to announce the 2021 Giants of the Cancer Care® inductees. The 14 winners are innovators of change whose invaluable contributions to the field have changed the trajectory of care across tumor types and improved the quality of life for countless patients.
Nancy E. Davidson, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/ University of Washington School of Medicine/ Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
- Davidson was among the first investigators to elucidate the role of apoptosis in the response of human breast cancer cells to estrogen deprivation and certain cytotoxic chemotherapies, demonstrating that these therapies are both antiproliferative and proapoptotic.
- Her research also demonstrated the feasibility of targeting the polyamine metabolic pathway in breast cancer cells, which inhibits proliferation, promotes apoptosis, and downregulates expression of critical molecules such as the estrogen receptor α protein.
- Davidson has led clinical trials involving chemotherapy and endocrine-related therapies for treating premenopausal breast cancer and has increased the understanding of the potential of angiogenesis inhibitors such as bevacizumab (Avastin) for treating metastatic breast cancer.
- She is senior vice president, director, and professor in the Clinical Research Division, as well as the Raisbeck Endowed Chair for Collaborative Research at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Davidson also serves as head of the Department of Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
- Davidson has won the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award, ASCO Allen S. Lichter Visionary Leader Award and Lecture, National Cancer Institute Rosalind E. Franklin Award, and she served as president of ASCO (2007-2008) and president of the American Association for Cancer Research (2015-2016).
Julie R. Gralow, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/ University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine/ Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
- Gralow is the chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. She is also the Jill Bennett Endowed Professor of Breast Medical Oncology (emeritus) and professor of global health at the UW School of Medicine and director of breast medical oncology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
- Gralow is cosecretariat for the Global Task Force on Expanded Access to Cancer Care and Control in Developing Countries.
- As a result of her work in cancer survivorship in the Ukraine in the 1990s, Gralow founded the Women’s Empowerment Cancer Advocacy Network (WE CAN). She is also cofounder of Team Survivor Northwest, an exercise and fitness program for women survivors of cancer.
- Gralow’s extensive research into bone health during cancer care led to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network convening a multidisciplinary Bone Health in Cancer Care Task Force, helping to establish the role of bisphosphonates in preventing cancer treatment–induced bone loss.
- Gralow is the principal investigator for the clinical core of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center/UW Breast Cancer Specialized Programs of Research Excellence grant.
- In 2000, she cowrote the book Breast Fitness: An Optimal Exercise and Health Plan for Reducing Your Risk of Breast Cancer.
Daniel G. Haller, MD, Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
- Haller is the cochair of the International Society of Gastrointestinal Oncology (ISGIO) Scientific Advisory Board.
- He was lead author for the Intergroup 0089 trial, still the largest trial of an adjuvant treatment trial for patients with high-risk colon cancer, establishing the treatment regimen of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), leucovorin, and levamisole for high-risk stage II and III disease.
- Haller was coauthor on the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) E7283 trial, which helped establish infusional 5-FU plus mitomycin C with radiation as the standard of care in anal cancer.
- He previously served as ECOG Gastrointestinal (GI) Committee chair and cochair of the National Cancer Institute GI Intergroup and as president of ISGIO (2009-2010).
- He held the inaugural Deenie Greitzer Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology Professorship, now the Deenie Greitzer and Daniel G. Haller Associate Professorship, at Perelman School of Medicine from 2015 to 2016.
- Haller has been an editor for over 35 years. His work includes the peer-reviewed journals such as Annals of Internal Medicine, Physician Data Query, and a 10-year term as editor in chief of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
- He is a 2017 recipient of The Ruesch Center for the Cure of Gastrointestinal Cancers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center Luminary Awards in GI Cancers and the 2011 ASCO Special Recognition Award.
Robert C. Young, MD, RCY Medicine/Fox Chase Cancer Center
- Young is part of the “Gang of Five,” a group of investigators at the National Cancer Institute who developed the first curative regimens for Hodgkin lymphoma and diffuse aggressive lymphomas, specifically the CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, prednisone) protocol.
- For 18 years, Young served as president and CEO at Fox Chase Cancer Center and then served another 2 years as chancellor. The Robert C. Young MD Chair in Cancer Research at Fox Chase is named in his honor.
- Prior to Fox Chase, he served in various positions at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), including a 14-year term as chief of the medicine branch.
- Young’s research contributed to the standardized staging and grading of ovarian tumors, identified prognostic factors for patients with ovarian cancer, and demonstrated that combination chemotherapy was more effective for patients with advanced ovarian adenocarcinoma vs standard-of-care melphalan.
- Along with Robert F. Ozols, MD, PhD, Young contributed to the understanding of how tumors develop resistance. The pair received the 25th Annual Bristol Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer Research (2002).
- Young is the recipient of several awards including the American Association for Cancer Research Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research (2013) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology Distinguished Service Award for Scientific Leadership (2004).
Toni K. Choueiri, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School
- Choueiri is director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology and of the Kidney Cancer Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is also the Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg Chair and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
- His research has led to the approval of several drugs and combinations including cabozantinib (Cabometyx), avelumab (Bavencio), pazopanib (Votrient), and axitinib (Inlyta)-avelumab in advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC).
- Choueiri led the CheckMate 9ER trial (NCT03141177), the results of which led to the FDA approval of cabozantinib/nivolumab (Opdivo), a combination superior to sunitinib (Sutent) for patients with advanced RCC.
- Along with Daniel Heng, MD, Choueiri established the International Metastatic RCC Database Consortium.
- Choueiri helped develop one of the first liquid biopsy methods that could detect early stages of kidney cancers with high accuracy. The test was nearly 100% accurate when used with blood samples.
- His research into biomarkers has shed light on complex immunogenomics mechanisms contributing to response and therapy resistance
- He was coleader for a multinational study to identify COVID-19 risk factors unique to patients with cancer. The results of the CCC19 study (NCT04354701) showed that patients with cancer and COVID-19 had increased risk for 30-day all-cause mortality.
Richard M. Stone, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School
- Stone is chief of staff and clinical director of the Adult Acute Leukemia Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
- He was lead investigator for the phase 3 RATIFY trial (NCT00651261), one of the first to enroll patients based on specific leukemia genotype. Results from that trial led to the FDA approval in 2017 of midostaurin (Rydapt) for adults with newly diagnosed, FLT3 mutation–positive acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
- Stone’s laboratory is conducting several ongoing trials, including immunotherapy with interleukin 2 as late postremission therapy for adults with AML and use of a BCL2 antisense oligonucleotide in older adults with AML.
- His research team is also testing the feasibility of adding a FLT3 inhibitor to chemotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed AML and of using a pediatric-like regimen to treat adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
- Additionally, his laboratory is exploring the efficacy of novel agents in AML and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS).
- Stone is a member of the board of directors for the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the former chair of the ABIM Medical Oncology Board.• Stone is the recipient of the Anaplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation Leadership in Science Award (2009).
Pasi A. Jänne, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School
- Jänne was one of the investigators to aid in the discovery of EGFR mutations and has led the development of therapeutic strategies for patients with EGFR-mutant lung cancer.
- He and his colleagues demonstrated that loss of response to gefitinib (Iressa) was driven by MET amplification, paving the way for further study of resistance mechanisms to earlier- and next-generation inhibitors.
- Jänne was the primary investigator for the phase 1 AURA trial (NCT01802632) that evaluated the efficacy of osimertinib (Tagrisso) in patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The agent is approved as adjuvant therapy following tumor resection in patients with NSCLC with tumors that have EGFR exon 19 deletions or exon 21 L858R mutations.
- Jänne is the director of 3 centers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology, Belfer Center for Applied Cancer Science, and Chen-Huang Center for EGFR-Mutant Lung Cancers.
- He is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
- Jänne has received numerous awards including the American Society of Clinical Oncology Science of Oncology Award (2020), the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award (2018), the European Society for Medical Oncology Translational Research Award (2018), American Association for Cancer Research Waun Ki Hong Award for Outstanding Achievement in Translational and Clinical Cancer Research (2018).
Michael B. Atkins, MD, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center/ MedStar Georgetown University Hospital
- Atkins is a pioneer in the introduction of immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer and one of the world’s leading authorities in cancer immunotherapy.
- His research helped establish dual checkpoint blockade with antibodies against both PD-1 and CTLA-4 as the standard of care in melanoma. The nivolumab (Opdivo)/ipilimumab (Yervoy) combination induces extended treatment-free melanoma remissions in more than 50% of patients.
- He was a founding member and leader of the Cytokine Working Group and leader of the Georgetown Lombardi Cancer Immunotherapy Interest Group.
- Atkins has led several major multi-investigator clinical and translational research efforts. His research in melanoma and kidney cancer has uncovered critical biology of these diseases and led to FDA approval of more than 20 new treatments.
- Atkins established and led the cutaneous and biologic therapy programs at Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center and codeveloped a new staging system for melanoma.
- He is deputy director of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, the William M. Scholl Professor and vice chair of the Department of Medical Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center, and codirector of the Melanoma Research Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.
- He has published more than 500 scientific and review articles, coedited 5 books, and given more than 700 lectures worldwide.
- Atkins served as president of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer from 2002 to 2004.
Steven T. Rosen, MD, City of Hope
- Rosen is provost and chief science officer, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director’s Distinguished Chair, the Morgan & Helen Chu Director’s Chair and director of the Beckman Research Institute, and director of the Irell & Manella Graduate School of Biological Sciences at City of Hope.
- Rosen was previously director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University for 24 years. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) named Lurie an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center under Rosen’s leadership.
- Rosen is a pioneer in the development monoclonal antibodies and recombinant toxins that can specifically target cancer cells.
- He led pivotal research into apoptosis inducers, proteasome inhibitors, and metabolism inhibitors as methods to promote cancer cell death. His research also led to the discovery that RNA-based analogs and cell signaling regulators can interfere with cancer growth processes.
- Rosen has been a leader of investigations to the discovery of how interferons and cytokines can trigger an immune response against cancer cells and angiogenesis inhibitors to prevent cancer cells from growing new blood vessels.
- He has been at the forefront of research into hormone therapies and transcriptional regulators and antisense compounds to activate or silence certain genes in cancer and normal cells.
Paul G. Richardson, MD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School
- Richardson is the clinical program leader and director of clinical research at the Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the RJ Corman Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
- During a career that has spanned more than 25 years, Richardson has contributed to the development of 3 major classes of therapies that have transformed the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma.
- He led or co-led the clinical development and study of immunomodulatory drugs thalidomide (Thalomid), lenalidomide (Revlimid), and pomalidomide (Pomalyst); proteasome inhibitors bortezomib (Velcade) and ixazomib (Ninlardo); and monoclonal antibodies daratumumab (Darzalex) and elotuzumab (Empliciti).
- Richardson’s groundbreaking clinical work on lenalidomide helped pave the way for FDA approval of the drug in 2006. He was the principal investigator for the landmark SUMMIT trial of bortezomib in relapsed/refractory myeloma, which led the FDA to grant accelerated approval for the drug in just 3 years, and later led the APEX trial (NCT00048230), which resulted in the FDA granting full approval to bortezomib.
- He also played a pivotal role in the phase 3 PANORAMA1 trial, which led to FDA approval of panobinostat (Farydak) combination with bortezomib and dexamethasone for patients with previously treated myeloma.
Richard J. O’Reilly, MD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK)
- O’Reilly and his colleagues developed and introduced methods for removing T cells from a donor’s transplant, allowing use of matched unrelated donors for bone marrow transplants and T-cell–depleted transplants from human leukocyte antigen half-matched donors without the risk of graft-vs-host disease.
- He developed new immune cell therapies to manage other potential complications of transplantation, such as Epstein-Barr virus–associated lymphomas and cytomegalovirus infections.
- In 1973, O’Reilly participated in the first transplant of bone marrow from an unrelated donor to a patient.
- O’Reilly founded the clinical and preclinical research program at MSK and established a worldwide reputation for bone marrow transplantations in children with severe combined immune deficiencies and leukemias.
- He serves as the Claire L. Tow Chair for Pediatric Oncology Research at MSK.
- O’Reilly was the 2016 inaugural recipient of the Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Prize, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the field of pediatric oncology.
- He has been honored with several awards throughout his career including the Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation Timothy Gee Humanity in Medicine Award (2011), the Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplant Consortium Lifetime Achievement Award (2011), the Society for Translational Oncology Pinedo Cancer Care Prize (2009), and the Leiden University Boerhaave Medal (2000).
Walter J. Curran Jr, MD, GenesisCare
- Curran is the Global Chief Medical Officer of GenesisCare. He previously served as executive director of Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and is professor emeritus and former chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Emory University School of Medicine. He was also a group chairman and principal investigator of NRG Oncology.
- Curran was named a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and Chair in Cancer Research (2013).
- In 2015, former President Jimmy Carter selected Curran as one of the physicians to treat him after he received a diagnosis of multiple myeloma.
- Curran is an international expert in the treatment of patients with locally advanced lung cancer and malignant brain tumors and led landmark clinical and translational trials in both areas. He is responsible for defining a universally adopted staging system for patients with malignant glioma.
- In 2006, a peer survey in Journal of Medical Imaging named him the leading radiation oncologist/cancer investigator.
- In 2004, the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology named him an honorary member, a position awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to the achievement of the society’s goals, particularly in the field of interdisciplinary or international cooperation.
- Curran was awarded the American Society for Radiation Oncology Gold Medal (2019) and the Brain Tumor Foundation for Children Visionary Award (2012).
Matthew L. Meyerson, MD, PhD
Matthew L. Meyerson, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School
- Meyerson’s laboratory developed the use of single nucleotide polymorphism arrays for human cancer genome analysis and defined both lineage-specific and cancer-universal regions of amplification and deletion.
- He identified the most common DNA amplification in lung adenocarcinoma, common SOX2 amplification in squamous cell carcinomas, and amplification of anti-apoptotic genes including MCL1 across multiple human cancers.
- His research contributed to the identification of mutations in the EGFR gene in lung adenocarcinomas as well as activating mutations of FGFR2 in multiple cancers and ALK mutations in glioblastoma.
- Meyerson pioneered the use of single-template sequencing in cancer genome analysis and discovered genetic mutations associated with breast, colon, and lung cancers.
- He developed a genomic approach to discover microbial sequences in human disease that has been applied to cancers and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. He completed a new software approach for identifying pathogens using next-generation sequencing data.
- Meyerson is a professor of genetics and pathology at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Cancer Genomics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Supportive, Palliative, and/or Geriatric Care
Dawn L. Hershman, MD, MS, Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University
- Hershman has developed a comprehensive multidisciplinary program to study how to improve cancer care delivery, which includes reducing disparities and designing studies to improve the quality of life and quality of care for survivors.
- Her seminal 2018 paper, “Effect of Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture or Waitlist Control on Joint Pain Related to Aromatase Inhibitors Among Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer” demonstrated that acupuncture significantly improved pain scores in from baseline to 6 weeks.
- Hershman is vice chair of the Southwestern Oncology Group/National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program research base and cochair of the Cancer Care Delivery Committee.
- She is the director of breast oncology and coleader of the Cancer Population Science Program at Columbia University Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center.
- Previous awards include the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and Irving Institute for Clinical and Translational Research Mentor of the Year Award (2021), the Hologic Inc Endowed Women Who Conquer Cancer Mentorship Award (2020), the American Society of Clinical Oncology Advanced Clinical Research Award in Breast Cancer (2010), and the Conquer Cancer Career Development Award (2002).