Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will honor Fadlo R. Khuri, M.D., with the 37th Annual AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award during the AACR Annual Meeting 2013, held in Washington, D.C., April 6-10. Khuri, deputy director of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., is receiving this award in recognition of his accomplishments as an investigator in lung and aerodigestive medical oncology.
His award lecture, “Targeting Survival Signaling in Aerodigestive Cancers,” will take place at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, April 10, in Ballroom C in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
“As a practicing clinical oncologist and as a physician-scientist, it is a profound honor for me to receive the AACR-Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Memorial Award, particularly in light of the extraordinary role models who have previously received this award,” said Khuri, who is also professor and chair of hematology and medical oncology, adjunct professor of medicine, pharmacology and otolaryngology, and Roberto C. Goizueta distinguished chair in translational cancer research at Emory University School of Medicine. “The award recognizes work by our team of physicians and scientists, at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, all of which was carried out with the sole purpose of making a difference for patients with lung and head and neck cancers.”
This award provides incentive to young investigators early in their careers. It was established in 1977 by the AACR and the Rosenthal Family Foundation to recognize research that has made, or promises to make, a notable contribution to improved care of people with cancer.
One of Khuri’s early accomplishments is the recognition of the potential of oncolytic viral therapy in cancer treatment. ONYX-015 is an adenovirus that selectively replicates in p53-deficient cancer cells and is, therefore, capable of selectively destroying those cancer cells. Khuri recognized the limitation of standard chemotherapy in cancers with a mutated tumor suppressor p53, and so he combined ONYX-015 with chemotherapy in a controlled clinical trial and demonstrated superior disease control in patients with recurrent head and neck cancer, a disease that recurs rapidly with either therapy alone. ONYX-015 was the first viral anticancer agent approved in Asia.
He demonstrated that the expression of retinoic acid receptor and COX-2 indicate poor prognosis in lung cancer, and identified prognostic factors such as DAPK methylation and lack of IL-10 expression that independently predict cancer-specific survival. These studies have added further knowledge to individualized adjuvant therapy. He also showed that farnesyl transferase inhibitors can reverse the resistance of non-small cell lung cancers to taxanes.
Khuri’s studies toward development of novel cancer agents led to the hypothesis of pharmacologically-enhanced oncogene addiction, which describes the use of anticancer agents to enhance the dependency of cancer cells to certain pathways so that the addiction can be exploited for effective treatment strategies. Based on this phenomenon, Khuri and colleagues discovered that despite mTOR suppression, rapamycin induces the paradoxical up-regulation of Akt. These studies may lead to the development of new oncogenic pathway-targeting agents for cancer treatment. These and other contributions of Khuri toward testing of novel treatment strategies in clinical trials led to his recognition internationally in the fields of chemoprevention and chemotherapy.
He was instrumental in obtaining the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation to Winship Cancer Institute in 2009. Additionally, he worked to increase NCI peer-reviewed funding in cancer at Emory, from $7.4 million in 2000 to more than $30 million in 2011. His contributions to cancer research and patient care extend beyond the laboratory. He increased patient enrollment in therapeutic clinical trials at Emory from 143 in 2001 to more than 500 in each of the last three years.
Khuri currently serves on the editorial board of the AACR’s journal, Cancer Prevention Research, and is the editor-in-chief of Cancer, a journal of the American Cancer Society. He is an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation. Additionally, he has received the American Cancer Society Clinical Oncology Career Development Award, the Georgia Cancer Coalition Distinguished Clinical Scholar Award and the Middle East Medical Assembly’s Naji Sahyoun Memorial Award.
Khuri received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, N.Y., in 1989. He completed his internship and residency at the Boston City Hospital, Boston University School of Medicine, in Massachusetts in 1990 and 1992, respectively, and a fellowship at the New England Medical Center at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston in 1995.
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Press registration for the AACR Annual Meeting 2013 is free to qualified journalists and public information officers: www.aacr.org/PressRegistration.
About the American Association for Cancer ResearchFounded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 34,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in more than 90 countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise of the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis and treatment of cancer by annually convening more than 20 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 17,000 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight peer-reviewed scientific journals and a magazine for cancer survivors, patients and their caregivers. The AACR funds meritorious research directly as well as in cooperation with numerous cancer organizations. As the scientific partner of Stand Up To Cancer, the AACR provides expert peer review, grants administration and scientific oversight of team science and individual grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit www.AACR.org.