Lugano, Feb. 9, 2017 - ESMO, the leading European professional organisation for medical oncology, has announced today a new award honouring individuals for outstanding achievements in the area of cancer immunotherapy.
"Immunotherapy is an exciting and rapidly evolving area in oncology. Recognising excellence in this emerging area is a duty and an honour for us, as the society of reference committed to improving outcomes for cancer patients," said ESMO President Fortunato Ciardiello.
The new ESMO Award for Immuno-Oncology is in memory of Professor Georges Mathé, a French oncologist and immunologist who performed the first bone marrow graft between unrelated donors in 1958.
"Georges Mathé was indeed a pioneer of immunotherapy but also one of the co-founders of ESMO in 1975, who had the vision that medical oncology would become one of the most exciting development areas for cancer medicine," said Christoph Zielinski, Chair of the ESMO Fellowship and Award Committee.
Immunotherapy, which engages the patient's own defences to fight cancer, has considerably changed the landscape of treatment options in the last few years. Professor Mathé worked in this field from the fifties to the eighties, anticipating the need of developing immunotherapy and applying it to cancer treatment.
"I am very proud that ESMO is honouring my father's achievements with this prestigious award, recognising the growing importance of immunotherapies applied to cancer care. As the descendant of one of ESMO's founders and immunotherapy pioneers, I am grateful for the appreciation of his work which has brought new hope for cancer patients," said Catherine Gaston-Mathé.
The first award will be presented at the ESMO Immuno-Oncology Congress in Geneva on 7 December 2017.
"ESMO has always maintained the visionary attitude of its founders," said Rolf A. Stahel, ESMO Past President and initiator of the ESMO immuno-oncology projects.
ESMO organised the very first educational meeting on the basics of immunology in 2007. In 2013 a series of smaller annual events dedicated to immune-oncology was started with the ESMO Symposium on Immuno-Oncology.
"In the light of recent developments, renewing our commitment to keeping oncologists up to date in such a rapidly evolving field, the now fully-fledged ESMO Immuno-Oncology Congress will be the ideal platform for all stakeholders interested in immunotherapy as a new way to treat cancer patients," Stahel said.
Basic, translational and clinical researchers, immunologists, oncology clinicians will be offered an expanded programme and focused sessions dedicated to different tumour types.
"From the basics of immunotherapies to the latest research results in different cancer types; from understanding different treatment options to management of toxicities and interpretation of new data, we aim to create the European community of immune-oncology stakeholders," said Stahel.
"Immunotherapy provides medical oncologists with another tool to treat cancer patients. The ESMO Immuno-Oncology Congress will help to increase the overall understanding of the potential of this therapy and its implications for clinical practice, today and in the future," said Professor George Coukos, Scientific Co-Chair of the congress, director of the Department of Oncology at the University Hospital of Lausanne (CHUV) and the Ludwig Cancer Research Centre, Lausanne, Switzerland.
"I think this is one of the most exciting fields to be working in today! There are very important developments in many disease types which could lead to a radical reduction in the relapse rate and therefore an increase in the cure of many cancers," explained Coukos.
"The launch of the ESMO Immuno-Oncology Congress together with the new award in memory of Georges Mathé reflects ESMO's commitment to help cancer physicians and researchers keep abreast of the latest developments in oncology, in an effort to bring innovative approaches to cancer patients," the ESMO President concluded.