The National Foundation for Cancer Research Announces Expansion of Scientific Advisory Board

Oct 14, 2015, 13:35 ET from National Foundation for Cancer Research

BETHESDA, Md., Oct. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) today announced the expansion of its Scientific Advisory Board. The NFCR Scientific Advisory Board includes Webster Cavenee, PhD, Chair; Frederick W. Alt, PhD; Ruggero De Maria, PhD; Kanaga Sabapathy, PhD; and Peter Vogt, PhD.

The mission of the NFCR Scientific Advisory Board is to provide scientific, strategic, and clinical guidance and direction for NFCR basic science and translational research programs. Directed by Webster Cavenee, PhD, the NFCR Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of leaders in cancer research who have made significant breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, scientists who are committed to furthering NFCR's unwavering commitment to funding research that will cure cancer—all types of cancer.

The National Foundation for Cancer Research is an innovative cancer charity with a deep scientific base and a truly collaborative approach to cancer research reaching global dimensions.  Research takes time and needs unwavering support. The path from a promising discovery to an effective treatment often takes a decade or more, and the NFCR Scientific Advisory Board will play a key role in guiding and prioritizing NFCR's global research program, prioritizing the connections between basic and clinical research, translating discoveries in the laboratory into health benefits for patients—giving reason to hope in the progress being made against cancer—new treatments brought into the clinic, patients saved, and cures delivered.   

"Research will cure cancer, and NFCR is about research," said Sujuan Ba, PhD, NFCR President. "This Scientific Advisory Board will be about creating an environment that works to liberate science—an architecture for discovery, and the roadmap to new approaches for treating cancer."  This distinguished group will work closely with NFCR leadership to explore ways to accelerate the development successful treatments and ultimately a cure.

The appointments to NFCR's Scientific Advisory Board include:

Webster Cavevee PhD, Chair, was Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, San Diego, and Distinguished Professor at the University of California where his research to understand the biology of glioblastoma multiforme is illuminating molecular mechanisms that drive the growth, migration, and survival of glioblastoma multiforme cells and identify potential new therapeutic approaches.

Recognized for his pioneering research in cancer genetics and groundbreaking discoveries that have fundamentally changed our understanding of tumor initiation and progression, Dr. Cavenee's research to unravel the inherited genetic changes that predispose individuals to cancer, his pioneering work in retinoblastoma, provided the first indisputable genetic evidence for the existence of tumor suppressor genes in humans—confirming the "two-hit" hypothesis that had been proposed more than a decade earlier. Dr. Cavenee went on to identify other recessive genetic lesions that predispose individuals to Wilms tumor, osteosarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma, and established the concept of loss of heterozygosity, now known to contribute to multiple cancers, both spontaneous and hereditary.

Dr. Cavenee's impact on international cancer research extends far beyond his own scientific achievements.  In addition to his extraordinary research accomplishments, Dr. Cavenee was elected AACR President in 1998-1999 and is an active leader in global efforts against glioblastoma multiforme. Dr. Cavenee was awarded the 2007 Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research, and was honored with the 8th AACR Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Frederick W. Alt, PhD is Director of the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children's Hospital, Charles A. Janeway Professor of Pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital, and professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Alt studies the mechanisms that generate immune system antigen receptor diversity and, more generally, mechanisms that generate and suppress genomic instability in mammalian cells. These two focus areas often intersect, notably in ongoing work on the mechanisms of chromosomal translocations and deletions that contribute to lymphoid and other cancers. Dr. Alt's groundbreaking work in cancer genetics over four decades has helped to shape the very roots of modern cancer research. His seminal discovery of gene amplification has proved foundational to the modern understanding of cancer – not only how the disease forms, but also how it can become resistant to treatment.

Dr. Alt was awarded the 2015 Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research, the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research, and the Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences, Stanford University Medical Center. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ruggero De Maria, PhD is Scientific Director of Regina Elena National Cancer Institute (Rome, Italy) where he was appointed by the Italian Minister of Health to manage the scientific activities between basic, translational and clinical researchers.  His leadership consists in increasing scientific productivity among clinicians and basic scientists.

De Maria's current research is centered on the molecular characterization of cancer stem cells with the aim of discovering innovative biomarkers and molecular targets to improve cancer management and develop novel cancer therapies. Formerly Head of the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Molecular Medicine at the National  Institute of  Health, Rome  (Istituto  Superiore  di  Sanità), his  research  team  was  the  first  to  isolate  CSCs  from  colon  and  lung  cancers  and  develop innovative CSC-based  preclinical  models  of  these  tumors. Other research interests comprise the study of microRNA and the microenvironment in solid tumors. Moreover, he has published several seminal articles on glioblastoma stem cells.

De Maria was elected President of the Italian ACC Association (Alleanza Contro il Cancro/Alliance in the fight against Cancer) in 2013; he is currently a member of the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR Innovator Scientific Advisory Board.

Kanaga Sabapathy, PhD, FRCPath is a Professor in the Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, and a joint Professor with the Department of Biochemistry at the National University of Singapore where he is Head of the Division of Cellular & Molecular Research at the National Cancer Center, Singapore, and Director of the Academic Clinical Program in Oncology for the SingHealth hospital system.

Dr. Sabapathy's research is focused on better understanding the molecular mechanism contributing to carcinogenesis- the process of cancer formation, and the alterations that lead to therapeutic resistance, with the aim of finding ways to combat cancer and enhance treatment response. He unravelled the mechanisms of a protein known as p73, its stability and how it leads to cancer. His research also helped the understanding of how mutant p53, a tumor protein, can promote cancer development and drug resistance.

By investigating the molecular mechanisms involved in cancer development, progression and chemoresistance; through the study of the p53 and p73 tumor suppressor paradigms, as well as the c-Jun/JNK signaling pathways Dr. Sabapathy's research is aimed at both understanding the molecular nature of cancer and its responses to therapy to unravel how p73 can either suppress or promote tumour growth, and so design effective targeted-therapies against the disease.

For his research in identifying suitable targets for therapy and designing of better approaches to treating cancer, in 2015 Dr. Sabapathy was selected as a recipient of Singapore's inaugural National Research Foundation Investigatorship to pursue groundbreaking, high-risk research. The Investigatorship is recognition of each researcher's track record of research achievements and contributions.

Peter Vogt, PhD is the Executive Vice President and Chief Science Officer of The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Best known for his seminal research that led to the elucidation of oncogenes, Dr. Vogt's genetic studies contributed critically to the identification of the first oncogene src and to the discovery that retroviral oncogenes are derived from the genome of the cell. His contributions include the identification of additional retroviral oncogenes that have become important in human cancer such as myc, jun and PI3-kinase. Today PI3-kinase is considered one of the most promising cancer targets.

Dr. Vogt's recent research on cancer-specific mutations in p110 has shown that these mutations confer oncogenic activity, making them highly specific targets. He also continues work on small molecule inhibitors of the Myc protein, challenging the dogma that Myc is undruggable.

In recognition of his stellar scientific achievements in cancer research, in 2010 Dr. Vogt was awarded the Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

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SOURCE National Foundation for Cancer Research