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Dr. Lewis Cantley Honored With the 2015 AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship

Friday, March 27, 2015

Photo of Dr Cantley in the labDr. Cantley in his lab The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will honor Lewis C. Cantley, Ph.D., with the ninth annual Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015, to be held in Philadelphia, April 18-22.

Cantley, the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, the Margaret and Herman Sokol professor in oncology research, and a professor of cancer biology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, is being recognized for his seminal contributions to the field of growth factor and oncogene signaling.

This lectureship honors his discovery of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) enzyme and his subsequent work delineating the PI3K signaling pathway. His research has shown that this pathway is commonly activated in cancer and has paved the way for the development of therapeutics aimed at inhibiting PI3K signaling. This work is already having a genuine impact on cancer patients.

He will present his lecture, “Targeting PI3K for Cancer Therapy,” Monday, April 20, 3:30 p.m. ET, in the Grand Ballroom of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Cantley is also chair of this year’s AACR Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee.

“It is an honor to receive this prestigious award. Princess Takamatsu dedicated her life to improving cancer treatments and the Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund, founded in her honor, has continued this worthy tradition. I am pleased to have a chance to present our research on targeting PI3K for cancer therapy,” said Cantley.

The AACR Princess Takamatsu Memorial Lectureship is presented to a scientist whose novel and significant work had or may have a far-reaching impact on the detection, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of cancer, and who embodies the dedication of the princess to multinational collaborations. Her Imperial Highness Princess Kikuko Takamatsu was instrumental in promoting cancer research and encouraging cancer scientists. She became a champion for these causes following her mother’s death from bowel cancer in 1933 at the young age of 43.

A preeminent cancer researcher whose discoveries about the mechanisms that drive the development of cancer has encouraged new approaches to therapy, Cantley is credited with a key role in elucidating the molecular components of several signaling networks that are fundamental to cell growth. His most significant contribution to cancer research has been his 1988 discovery of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) enzyme. This laid the foundation for his subsequent work, which revealed how biochemical signaling pathways control normal cell growth and trigger the development of cancer when they are defective. His demonstration of how PI3K is activated by growth factors and oncogenes, coupled with the delineation of the components of the PI3K signaling pathway, including Akt/PKB, have been critically important for the development of personalized cancer therapies. Cantley’s work has also indicated that PI3K is a significant factor in both insulin signaling and immune cell signaling, which has major implications for the treatment of diabetes and other immune-related diseases.

An active AACR member, Cantley is a founding co-editor-in-chief of Cancer Discovery, a member of the AACR board of directors, an elected fellow of the AACR Academy, and a leader of the Stand Up to Cancer Dream Team, “Targeting PI3K in Women’s Cancers.”

Cantley’s scientific accomplishments have been recognized with numerous additional honors throughout his career, including the Canada Gairdner International Award, the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the H.C. Jacobaeus Prize, the Pasarow Award for Cancer Research, the Rolf Luft Award from the Karolinska Institute, the Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research, and the Caledonian Prize Lectureship in Biomedical Science from the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Additionally, he is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Cantley received his doctorate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and completed his postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School in Boston. Before joining Weill Cornell Medical College in 2012, Cantley was director of the Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center, chief of the Division of Signal Transduction at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School.