Public Release: 

AACR and CEO Dr. Margaret Foti receive award for raising public awareness about melanoma

American Association for Cancer Research

The American Association for Cancer Research and its CEO, Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), received the CommunityCaring Award from the William S. Graham Foundation for Melanoma Research, Inc., (The "Billy Foundation") for "going above and beyond" what other organizations have done to help educate the public and survivors about cancer. Through its educational programs, the AACR has raised public awareness about the importance of prevention and early detection of melanoma. About 54,200 new cases of malignant melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year; about 7,600 people will die of this disease.

The award was presented to Dr. Foti on Saturday, November 8, 2003, at the Foundation's 5th Annual "SunSafe Moonlit Night Gala," held at the Pan Pacific Hotel in San Francisco, Calif.

"We are very pleased that Dr. Foti is the 2003 recipient of this award for the role she and the AACR played in promoting the public awareness programs of the 'Billy Foundation' through their Annual Meetings and Public Forums, and their assistance in the early detection of melanoma via their hosting of the Foundation's Mole Patrol/free skin cancer screenings," said Karen L. Graham, chair and president of the William S. Graham Foundation for Melanoma Research, Inc.

"Together with all of this, the AACR's Scientist?Survivor Program has hosted the 'Billy Foundation' for the past several years, thus allowing the ongoing training of the Foundation, and enabling us to bring back to our constituents the cutting edge information on cancer research."

Added Dr. Foti: "The AACR is deeply committed to the goals and objectives of the 'Billy Foundation,' and together we will succeed in our fight against this disease. This special honor must be shared with the extraordinary colleagues with whom I have had the pleasure to work through the years."

The AACR has taken a leadership role in building effective alliances with survivor and patient advocacy groups, like the "Billy Foundation," through its educational programs and Annual Meeting, the largest meeting in the world devoted to cancer research. For example:

  • The "Billy Foundation" has exhibited at the AACR Public Forum/Ask the Expert Sessions, designed to inform the general public about cancer and clinical trials at the Annual Meeting.
  • The "Mole Patrols," the Foundation's on-site skin screening by dermatologists, have been regular features at AACR meetings.
  • By participating in the AACR Scientist?Survivor Program, a program that has received accolades over the past six years for its contributions to education and mentorship, the "Billy Foundation" has brought back the latest scientific information to its larger community of survivors and advocates, thus strengthening its mission.

Recently, the AACR and the "Billy Foundation" also joined to create a new award, the AACR-William S. Graham Foundation Fellows Grant for Melanoma Research, to provide direct research support to an outstanding clinical or postdoctoral fellow in the U.S. This fellowship will be awarded for the first time March 27-31, 2004, at the AACR's Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla.

"Because of the spectacular science being done today, as well as important life-saving, lifestyle modifications, cancer rates are dropping," said Dr. Foti. "However, the number of new cancer cases is still going up. Melanoma cases in the U.S. are increasing, and the disease is being detected in younger individuals.

"So many more will succumb to cancer and its devastating effects unless we redouble our efforts and our energies and make cancer research and cancer prevention a national priority."

Other award winners include:

  • Katie Couric and NBC's Today, were honored with the National Public Awareness Award for their part in the promotion at a national level of the Foundation's public awareness and education programs.

  • Maude Becker, R.N., of the Colorado Cancer Center in Denver, Colo., and Ashfaq A. Marghoob, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, each received the HealthCaring Award for their inspiring contributions to the care of melanoma patients.

  • Sol Barer, Ph.D., president of Celgene Pharmaceuticals in Warren, N.J., was the recipient of the INSIGHTS Award, which is given to the company or organization that has shown the "insight" to rally behind the foundation and its life saving programs.

  • The Pleasanton Unified School District was given the S.unS.afe Kidz®Community Commendation Award for its outstanding implementation of the foundation's Guidelines for SunSafety®. Assistant Superintendent Cindy Galbo accepted the award for the district.

Charles M. Balch, M.D., professor of surgery and oncology at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., and executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), delivered a keynote address on melanoma research and its direction in the future. Samantha Mohr, a meteorologist for KPIX/CBS in San Francisco, Calif., was the evening's mistress of ceremonies.


Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is a professional society of nearly 22,000 laboratory and clinical scientists engaged in cancer research in the United States and over 60 other countries. The AACR's mission is to accelerate the prevention and cure of cancer through research, education, communication, and advocacy. Its principal activities include the publication of five major peer-reviewed scientific journals (Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention). The AACR's Annual Meeting attracts more than 16,000 participants who share new and significant discoveries in the cancer field, and the AACR's specialty meetings throughout the year focus on all the important areas of basic, translational, and clinical cancer research.

The William S. Graham Foundation for Melanoma Research, Inc., is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to raise funds in support of research designated to finding the cure for the later stages of the deadly disease, malignant melanoma; to educate the public regarding the cause and prevention; and through specific public awareness programs, to assist in the early detection of this insidious, potentially lethal cancer. Karen Graham, founder and president of the "Billy Foundation," named the organization in honor of her son, Billy Graham, who succumbed to malignant melanoma in 1994 at age 22.

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