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ECOG-ACRIN names Stanford University's Heather Wakelee as young investigator of the year

Johns Hopkins University's Valsamo (Elsa) Anagnostou receives ECOG-ACRIN's Paul Carbone, M.D. Fellowship Award

ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group

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IMAGE: This is Dr. Heather Wakelee, recipient of the 2015 ECOG-ACRIN Young Investigator Award. view more

Credit: Stanford University

Philadelphia, Pa., - Heather Wakelee, MD, is the recipient of the 2015 ECOG-ACRIN Young Investigator Award, the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group announced today. Dr. Wakelee is associate professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif. She is also faculty director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Office at the Stanford Cancer Institute. Dr. Wakelee is an active member of the ECOG-ACRIN Thoracic Committee since 2003 and is a strong contributor to the ECOG-ACRIN Lung Biology Subcommittee and the Thoracic Surgery Subcommittee.

The Young Investigator Award, established in 1999, recognizes extraordinary scientific achievements and research leadership contributions made by investigators during the early years of their careers. A committee composed of previous recipients and ECOG-ACRIN scientific leaders selects one awardee annually. The award is one of ECOG-ACRIN's highest distinctions.

"Dr. Wakelee has already made huge contributions to our thoracic cancer program in ECOG-ACRIN and she is one of the truly rising stars in lung cancer research," said Robert L. Comis, MD, group co-chair.

Dr. Wakelee created and directs an outstanding lung cancer clinical program, where she has made tremendous advances in adjuvant therapy for lung cancer through Stanford's institutional membership in ECOG-ACRIN, in place since 1990.

"Dr. Wakelee serves in important leadership roles at Stanford," said George W. Sledge, Jr., MD, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Medical Oncology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "In addition to running the thoracic medical oncology program and directing our cancer clinical trials, she is the Stanford principal investigator for ECOG-ACRIN and for Stanford's NCI Lead Academic Participating Site U10 grant."

She is the study chair for ECOG-ACRIN's E1505, a phase III trial testing chemotherapy with and without bevacizimab in patients with early stage non-small cell lung cancer - by far the largest adjuvant chemotherapy trial conducted in North America for patients with early stage lung cancer. She also is the study co-chair mentoring Joel Neal, MD, for ECOG-ACRIN's E1512, a soon-to-be-reported randomized phase II trial that studied the combination of erlotinib and cabozantinib in non-small cell lung cancer.

She is also recognized as an international thought leader in the field of adjuvant therapy for lung cancer.

She serves in several important capacities on national and international committees for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), where she is a regent for the United States. Dr. Wakelee is also an active participant in the International Thymic Malignancy Interest Group (ITMIG), where she champions clinical trials in this rare disease.

"Dr. Wakelee has developed into an internationally recognized thoracic medical oncologist, who demonstrates tireless effort in support of ECOG-ACRIN and is truly deserving of the ECOG-ACRIN Young Investigator Award," said Dr. Sledge. "She is a true ECOG-ACRIN loyalist, and indeed, a champion of cancer clinical trials at every level. She will continue to be a driving force in the field of medical oncology for many years to come."

2015 Paul Carbone, MD Fellowship Award Recipient

The ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group also announced today that Valsamo (Elsa) Anagnostou, MD, PhD, will receive the 2015 Paul Carbone, MD Fellowship Award. Dr. Anagnostou is a young physician scientist who is conducting lung cancer research as a medical oncology fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Anagnostou will receive a one-time research grant in the amount of $25,000 to support her proposed study to understand what genetic alterations will predict the success of the immunotherapy drug nivolumab in treating patients with lung cancer. Nivolumab is a fully human monoclonal antibody that works by helping the immune system to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells. Her research will examine the connection between tumor genetics and a patient's response to immunotherapy, one of the most important questions in lung cancer therapy today due to the fact that only a fraction of patients respond to immunotherapy approaches.

"The selection of Dr. Wakelee and Dr. Anagnostou reflects exceptional strength in the therapeutic and biomarker programs of ECOG-ACRIN and its member institutions, particularly in molecular and immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer," said Joseph A. Sparano, MD, Chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Mentoring Program.

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Both awards are funded by the ECOG Research and Education Foundation.

About the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group

The ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group is a membership-based scientific organization that designs and conducts cancer research involving adults who have or are at risk of developing cancer. ECOG-ACRIN comprises nearly 1100 member institutions in the United States and around the world. Approximately 12,000 physicians, translational scientists, and associated research professionals from the member institutions are involved in Group research, which is organized into three scientific programs: Cancer Control and Outcomes, Therapeutic Studies, and Biomarker Sciences. ECOG-ACRIN is supported primarily through National Cancer Institute research grant funding, but also receives funding from private sector organizations through philanthropy and collaborations. It is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa. For more information, visit http://ecog-acrin.org or call 215.789.3631.

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