Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) is proud to announce that Charles L. Sawyers, MD, FAACR, Chair of MSK’s Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program (HOPP) and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, will receive the 2021 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Distinguished Public Service Award during the AACR Annual Meeting 2021: Week 1. The AACR Distinguished Public Service Award is given to individuals whose extraordinary work has exemplified the AACR’s mission to prevent and cure all cancers through research, education, communication, collaboration, science policy, advocacy, and funding for cancer research. Dr. Sawyers will be awarded this prestigious award alongside Kathy Giusti, MBA, founder of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation and the Harvard Business School Kraft Precision Medicine Accelerator and Nancy P. Pelosi (D-California), Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dr. Sawyers is recognized for his dedication to advancing precision medicine by conceptualizing, then leading, AACR Project GENIE (Genomics Evidence Neoplasia Information Exchange) through the formative years of the project. Dr. Sawyers envisioned AACR Project GENIE as an international, pancancer registry of real-world data, built through data sharing among participating institutions, with the goals of powering precision oncology and clinical decision making, while remaining dedicated to open science and collaboration.
As a result of Dr. Sawyers’ leadership and guidance as chair of the AACR Project GENIE executive and steering committees, the most recent public data release contained nearly 113,000 sequenced samples from more than 104,000 patients treated at 19 participating institutions, making the AACR Project GENIE registry among the largest fully public cancer genomic data sets released to date.
Outside of his work with AACR Project GENIE, Dr. Sawyers is a world-renowned physician-scientist and leader in the development of targeted therapies for cancer. He played a critical role in developing the molecularly targeted cancer drug imatinib (Gleevec) for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. Dr. Sawyers’ research into treatments for cancer that becomes resistant to established therapies led to the development of dasatinib (Sprycel) for patients with imatinib-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia and the antiandrogen drugs enzalutamide (Xtandi) and apalutamide (Erleada) for metastatic prostate cancer.
Dr. Sawyers served as AACR President from 2013-2014 and was elected to the 2014 class of Fellows of the AACR Academy. Last year, he was elected by the Fellows of the AACR Academy as the AACR Academy President-Elect for 2020–2021. He will assume the Presidency of the AACR Academy at the AACR Annual Meeting 2021.