Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) is proud to announce three innovative investigators as the recipients of this year’s Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research. The prize, named in honor of MSK’s past President Emeritus, the late Paul A. Marks, MD, recognizes a new generation of leaders in cancer research under the age of 50 who are making significant contributions to the understanding of cancer or are improving the treatment of the disease through basic or clinical research. The winners will evenly share an award of $150,000. They will present their work at a lecture hosted by MSK in March 2024.
The winners of the 2023 Paul Marks Prize are Mark Agnel Frederick Dawson, MBBS, PhD, of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria, Australia; Cigall Kadoch, PhD, of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine.
“The MSK community is honored to present the Paul Marks Prize to these three outstanding investigators, all of whom have already made differences in the lives of people with cancer — and whom we know will continue to pursue answers to challenging scientific questions in the future,” said Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, FACS, MSK’s President and CEO. “Supporting the next generation of cancer scientists is part of our mission of ending cancer for life and a fitting tribute to the legacy of our esteemed colleague Dr. Marks.”
A committee of prominent members of the cancer research community — led by W. Kimryn Rathmell, MD, PhD, MMHC, Chair of the Department of Medicine, Physician-in-Chief, and a professor of biochemistry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center — selected the winners.
About the Recipients
Mark Agnel Frederick Dawson, MBBS, PhD, is a professor at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Victoria, Australia; the Sir Edward Dunlop Fellow for Cancer Council Victoria; an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council investigator; and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) International Research Scholar. He is a physician-scientist whose investigations have led to the development of a novel class of cancer drugs called epigenetic inhibitors for treating a range of cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia. Dr. Dawson earned his MBBS from the University of Melbourne and his PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is the first Australian to win the Paul Marks Prize.
Cigall Kadoch, PhD, is an associate professor of pediatric oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an HHMI Investigator. Her work has centered on unraveling the mechanisms of large, highly intricate nuclear protein machines called BAF chromatin remodeling complexes, which are among the most frequently mutated entities in human cancer. Her work has led to new classes of drugs to correct abnormal gene expression caused by these defective complexes. Dr. Kadoch earned her PhD from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Michelle Monje, MD, PhD,is a professor of neurology and neurological sciences and a pediatric neuro-oncologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine and an HHMI Investigator. She studies cancers of the brain, brain stem, and spinal cord, especially diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a lethal brain cancer in children. Her research seeks to understand how these cancers originate and what drives them, with the goal of ultimately developing better therapies. Her research has uncovered a critical role for the nervous system itself in the initiation, growth, and progression of these tumors, including the role of neuronal activity-regulated growth factor secretion and the formation of functional synapses between neurons and cancer cells. As a clinician, she has led early-phase clinical trials for young people with brain cancer. Dr. Monje earned her MD and PhD from Stanford.
Dr. Paul Marks: A Leader in Cancer Research
Honoring the legacy of the late Paul A. Marks, MD — a distinguished scientist and leader who served as President of MSK for nearly two decades — the biennial Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research recognizes early and mid-career investigators who have made significant contributions to increasing the understanding of cancer. As President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Marks led Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for 19 years, beginning in 1980. After stepping down from that role in 1999, he remained a vital part of MSK for many years as President Emeritus and Member of the Sloan Kettering Institute. Dr. Marks’ research in cell biology and cancer genetics made major contributions toward a new approach to cancer treatment and prevention, through the development of new and more potent chemotherapy and chemoprevention agents. He also helped establish the highest standards for research and patient care at MSK and provided leadership in the national and international medical science community.