Blackburn, DuBois, and Helman named new vice-chairs of SU2C Scientific Advisory Committee
Three new vice-chairs of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) were announced today by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the Scientific Partner of SU2C. They are: Nobel Laureate Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD, University of California San Francisco; Raymond N. DuBois, MD, PhD, Medical University of South Carolina; and Lee J. Helman, MD, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. All three have served as members of the SAC.
The announcement was made on behalf of SAC Chair Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, institute professor, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and himself a Nobel laureate.
“Elizabeth Blackburn, Ray DuBois, and Lee Helman have contributed greatly to the scientific direction of SU2C,” Sharp said. “As vice-chairs, SU2C will benefit even more from their expertise and time in invaluable ways as we continue to expand and diversify SU2C’s growing research portfolio.”
The SAC is composed of prestigious academic, advocacy, regulatory, and industry leaders in cancer research. Its role is to provide insight and guidance to SU2C, setting direction for SU2C’s research initiatives, reviewing proposals for new grant awards, and conducting rigorous oversight of all active grants in the SU2C portfolio.
Blackburn, DuBois, and Helman join Arnold J. Levine, PhD, professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and William G. Nelson, MD, PhD, director of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, who have served as vice-chairs, with Sharp as chair, since the inception of SU2C in 2008.
In that time, SU2C has launched 24 “Dream Teams” of top researchers at different leading institutions, each attacking a specific cancer or problem in cancer research; 51 Research Team grants, including 11 SU2C Catalyst® teams carrying out clinical trials to find new uses for drugs; 11 Convergence Research Teams bringing together biologists, oncologists, physicists, engineers, and computational/machine learning experts; and 23 Phillip A. Sharp Innovation in Collaboration Awards in a program that recognizes Sharp’s keen interest in active collaboration between different research teams. SU2C has also awarded 46 Innovative Research Grants (IRG) to early-career scientists to support cutting-edge cancer research that would be deemed too high-risk to receive funding through traditional channels.
“We have a tremendous portfolio of active research grants to which the SAC gives continuing oversight to ensure that all units and researchers are making progress toward their goals,” Sharp said. “Elizabeth Blackburn is a highly accomplished scientist. Ray DuBois was instrumental in launching the SU2C Catalyst program in cooperation with industry collaborators. Lee Helman is, among other things, a national expert in pediatric cancer research, which is a continuing focus of SU2C.”
“The SAC stays engaged with our teams after they are selected, rigorously evaluating progress and offering guidance on how best to quickly translate research into treatments that will help patients,” said Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, president and chief executive officer of SU2C. “That is one of the most distinctive hallmarks of the SU2C approach, and we are delighted that Drs. Blackburn, DuBois, and Helman are joining Drs. Sharp, Levine, and Nelson in leading the SAC’s efforts.”
Blackburn received the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology in 2009 for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres, and for her discovery of the enzyme telomerase, which plays a key role in cell replication, cell aging, and human cancers. Her research has revolutionized the understanding of how cells function and has been called one of the most important discoveries in the field of molecular genetics. She is the Morris Herzstein professor emerita in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and president emerita of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
DuBois was appointed professor and dean of the College of Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in March 2016 after serving four years as executive director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University with a joint appointment in the Mayo College of Medicine. Before that, he was provost and executive vice president and professor of cancer medicine and cancer biology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He is an internationally renowned expert on the molecular and genetic basis of colorectal cancer.
Helman is head of basic and translational research within the Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases (CCCBD) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and director of the cancer and blood diseases research program at The Saban Research Institute of CHLA. He is also professor of pediatrics and medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He served previously at the National Cancer Institute as chief of the pediatric oncology branch from 1997 to 2007 and as scientific director for clinical research in the Center for Cancer Research from 2007 to 2016. He is an internationally recognized for his expertise in pediatric sarcomas.
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About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. As SU2C’s scientific partner, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and a Scientific Advisory Committee led by Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, conduct rigorous, competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and provide expert review of research progress.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, Ellen Ziffren, and Kathleen Lobb. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders. Sung Poblete, PhD, RN, has served as SU2C’s president since 2011. For more information, please visit StandUpToCancer.org.
About the American Association for Cancer Research
Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the world’s first and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research and its mission to prevent and cure cancer. AACR membership includes 40,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and patient advocates residing in 120 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 30 conferences and educational workshops, the largest of which is the AACR Annual Meeting with more than 22,600 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 www.AACR.org.