Public Release: 

Dr. Donald Coffey honored with 2015 AACR Margaret Foti Award

Coffey to be recognized for leadership and extraordinary achievements in cancer research

American Association for Cancer Research

PHILADELPHIA -- Donald S. Coffey, PhD, will be honored with the ninth annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015, to be held in Philadelphia, April 18-22. He will receive the award during the opening ceremony, Sunday, April 19, 8:15 a.m. ET, in Hall A of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Coffey, a fellow of the AACR Academy, and the Catherine Iola and J. Smith Michael distinguished professor of urology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, is being honored for his tremendous leadership and profound contributions to cancer research. His distinct reputation as a natural advocate and leader is evidenced by his extraordinary tenure as AACR president (1997-1998), which resulted in a number of new exciting initiatives for the organization. Likewise, his pioneering work on the structure of the cell nuclei and the pathogenesis of prostate cancer, coupled with his dedication to mentoring young cancer researchers and promoting cancer research nationally, epitomizes the spirit of this award.

"Dr. Coffey is an internationally recognized research scientist who has made seminal contributions to numerous areas of cancer research," said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the AACR. "His work on the nuclear matrix established a new paradigm for understanding the biology of normal and cancer cells, while his prostate cancer research helped change the face of that deadly disease. However, Dr. Coffey's impact on cancer research extends far beyond his scientific achievements. His outstanding leadership skills, dedication to mentoring young investigators, passionate advocacy for sustained increases in funding for cancer research, and remarkable ability to translate complex scientific concepts into lay language make him an icon in the field and a true champion of cancer research. He is greatly deserving of this award."

The Margaret Foti Award for Leadership and Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research, established in 2007, recognizes an individual whose leadership and extraordinary achievements in cancer research, or in support of cancer research, have made a major impact on the field.

"To receive this premier award honoring Dr. Margaret Foti, who has built the American Association for Cancer Research into the world's leading organization to impact the control of cancer, fulfills my lifetime dream. Sixty years ago, my wife Eula and I accepted our joint calling to serve this mission. Johns Hopkins University, the AACR, and hundreds of colleagues, supported by private and public donors, have all made this possible. We thank all of you," said Coffey.

Coffey has made many important discoveries about abnormal and normal cell behavior and has launched major new research avenues in cell biology; he is widely known for his discovery of the nuclear matrix and the fact that DNA synthesis occurs on this matrix. He characterized the first Dunning animal models, which are used to isolate tumor metastasis genes and design chemotherapy regimens in prostate cancer. Coffey was the first to establish methods to identify androgen-insensitive prostate tumors and to elucidate the mechanisms of clonal selection in this insensitivity. He has also done groundbreaking work on telomerase in prostate cancer and contributed to the first prostate cancer gene therapy trial ever conducted.

Coffey's outstanding service to the AACR began in 1976. In addition to his tenure as president from 1997 to 1998, he has been a member of the AACR board of directors (1993-1996) and Nominating Committee (2001-2003), co-chair of the Science Education Committee, program chair of the AACR Annual Meeting 1995, and a member of the Public Education Committee and Long-range Planning Committee, as well as associate editor of Cancer Research. He has also provided his mentorship in the Scientist?Survivor Program and for early-career scientists.

Coffey has served in various other leadership positions throughout his career, including the National Cancer Advisory Board, the board of directors of the National Coalition for Cancer Research, president of the Society for Basic Urological Research, national chair of the National Cancer Institute's National Prostatic Cancer Program, and director of the Brady Laboratory for Reproductive Biology and the research laboratories in the Department of Urology at Johns Hopkins.

Coffey has been recognized with numerous other honors, including the St. Paul's Medal from the British Association of Urological Surgeons, the Achievement Award from the American Urological Association, the First Yamanouchi Award from the Society of International Urology, the Eugene Fuller Prostate Award from the American Urological Society, and the Falk Award from the National Institute of Environmental Science.

While working toward his bachelor's degree in chemistry from East Tennessee State University, which he received in 1957, Coffey was a chemist at the North American Rayon Corporation. Upon graduating, Coffey spent two years as a chemical engineer at the Westinghouse Corporation in Baltimore. He began his tenure at Johns Hopkins in 1959, where he has served since, joining the Johns Hopkins Hospital as acting director of the Brady Urological Research Laboratory. He also received his doctorate from the university's medical school in 1964. Additionally, he is currently an adjunct professor of medicine at Howard University in Washington, D.C.


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About the American Association for Cancer Research

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes more than 35,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in 101 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 25 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with over 18,500 attendees. In addition, the AACR publishes eight prestigious, 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 investigator grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit. The AACR actively communicates with legislators and other policymakers about the value of cancer research and related biomedical science in saving lives from cancer. For more information about the AACR, visit

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