Center News Magazine: Physician-in-Chief José Baselga Elected President of the American Association for Cancer Research

By Celia Gittelson, BA  |  Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Pictured: José Baselga Physician-in-Chief José Baselga

Memorial Sloan Kettering Physician-in-Chief José Baselga has been elected President of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. Dr. Baselga will officially become president-elect during the AACR’s Annual Meeting 2014, to be held in San Diego, California, from April 5 through 9, and will serve for one year as President beginning in 2015.

Dr. Baselga will assume the post in 2015, just a year after physician-scientist Charles Sawyers, Chair of Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, completes his term as AACR President in April.

Bringing visionary leadership to cancer research

In his new role, Dr. Baselga will work with the AACR Board of Directors and membership, which includes more than 34,000 members in more than 90 countries, to further the association’s mission to prevent and cure cancer through research, education, communication, and collaboration.

“We are proud and delighted that José Baselga has been elected President of the AACR,” says Memorial Sloan Kettering President and CEO Craig B. Thompson. “Dr. Baselga is a committed clinician, a distinguished researcher, as well as a visionary and enthusiastic leader and collaborator with his colleagues throughout our institution. I know he will bring these same qualities to bear on his leadership of the AACR as he works to advance progress in the prevention, biology, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.”

An innovative laboratory and clinical researcher

Dr. Baselga is an internationally recognized physician-scientist with a special interest in translational and early clinical research as well as on the identification of novel mechanisms of resistance to current cancer therapies. His laboratory research includes the development of novel molecularly targeted cancer therapies, with a special focus on breast cancer and therapeutic approaches to targeting the PI3K pathway. His work in the preclinical and early clinical development of therapies has helped introduce a number of new targeted agents including trastuzumab and lapatinib.

More recently, he led the early clinical development and pivotal clinical studies that resulted in approval by the US Food and Drug Administration of two drugs for the treatment of breast cancer — pertuzumab for the treatment of patients with HER2-positive metastatic disease, and everolimus for the treatment of advanced hormone-receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer.

Dr. Baselga joined Memorial Sloan Kettering in 2013 from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) where he was Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Associate Director of the MGH Cancer Center. He did his medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Hospital and was a faculty member on the Breast/Gynecology Service from 1994 through 1996, after which he returned to his native Spain.

He is past president of the European Society for Medical Oncology, and has served on the Board of Directors of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the AACR. He is also a founding editor-in-chief (with Lewis C. Cantley) of the AACR’s journal, Cancer Discovery.

Dr. Baselga has also been the recipient of many awards of honors, among them ASCO’s Young Investigator and Career Development Award and the AACR-Rosenthal Family Foundation Award.