Cancer research and treatment has evolved significantly in the past five decades. As the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) celebrates its 50th anniversary, the organization named former MD Anderson president John Mendelsohn, M.D., Waun Ki Hong, M.D., and Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D. to its list of luminaries.
Mendelsohn served as president of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center from 1996 – 2011 and directs its Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy. Mendelsohn is widely regarded for his transformative role in understanding how growth factors bind to the surface of cells and regulate their functions.
Based on his clinical and laboratory research, Mendelsohn and colleagues at the University of California San Diego developed monoclonal antibody 225, which inhibits cell proliferation by blocking the signaling pathways activated by epidermal growth factor receptors. This discovery became commercially known as Erbitux and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating colon and head and neck cancers.
Mendelsohn has received numerous honors, including the Raymond Bourgine Award, Joseph H. Burchenal Clinical Research Award, the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award, Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal and election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Additionally, he's currently a fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
Hong leads MD Anderson's Cancer Medicine division and is internationally recognized as the foremost authority on treating and preventing head and neck and lung cancers. In his nearly four-decade career, his innovative research led to seminal contributions in chemoprevention, larynx preservation and personalized therapy in lung cancer.
Hong has authored more than 660 scientific publications and trained and mentored hundreds of oncology fellows. Throughout his career, he served as president of the American Association for Cancer Research and was elected to the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Hong is also a current member of the NCI's National Cancer Advisory Board.
He's received numerous awards for his clinical and translational research, including the David A. Karnofsky Memorial Award, the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor, the Rosenthal Award, Joseph H. Burchenal Award, Cancer Prevention Research Award from AACR and the Ho-Am Award from the Samsung Foundation. Hong is one of the most influential oncologists in cancer medicine today.
Gabriel Hortobagyi, M.D., professor and former chair of MD Anderson's Breast Medical Oncology, is credited with leading breakthrough advances in treating breast cancer, including combination chemotherapies for inoperable tumors and multidisciplinary care for patients at all disease stages.
Hortobagyi is widely known for a landmark study he initiated in 1974 where presurgical chemotherapy was administered to patients with widespread disease. This research concluded that many large tumors could be reduced up to 50 percent and then surgically removed. He also led a 10-year study examining a three-drug regimen given before surgery and radiation that benefited patients with advanced disease. Hortobagyi led the clinical development of several drugs (anthracyclines and taxanes) in the breast cancer field and led the definitive studies that established the role of bisphosphonates in the management of bone metastases from breast cancer.
Over the course of his career, he's authored more than 1000 scientific articles, served as president of ASCO and the International Society of Breast Diseases and chaired numerous committees, including those at the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Breast Cancer International Research Group.
For his efforts, Hortobagyi has received worldwide honors, including the Brinker International Award for Clinical Research, the Japanese Surgical Society Medal, the Sir Peter Freyer Medal in Galway, Ireland, the Jill Rose Award, the William L. McGuire Award and was named Chevalier of the Order of la Legion d'Honneur de France in 2001.
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