Cancer specialist Mark Ratain receives prestigious award from leading oncology society

April 18, 2011

Mark Ratain, MD

Mark Ratain, MD, the Leon O. Jacobson Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, has been awarded the Translational Research Professorship for 2011 by the American Society for Clinical Oncology's Conquer Cancer Foundation.

The award, according to the foundation, provides "flexible funding to outstanding translational researchers who have made, and are continuing to make, significant contributions that have changed the direction of cancer research and who provide mentorship to future translational researchers."

"It is an honor just to be considered," Ratain said. "This is a highly competitive award from ASCO, the most important oncology organization in the world. This recognition is particularly meaningful to me, as the previous recipient was my mentor, collaborator and good friend, the late Merrill Egorin, a pioneer in the clinical pharmacology of anticancer agents, and a superior teacher for a generation of scientists in this field. In fact, this year's award is the continuation of the funding originally awarded to Dr. Egorin in 2009, and I hope to continue his great legacy."

This year's award provides $300,000 to a researcher who "brings advances in basic sciences into the clinical arena" and who helps train other translational researchers. Established by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Foundation supports, encourages, and recognizes excellence in clinical research in the field.

Award recipients must be senior academic physicians. They must serve as a research mentor to translational researchers and lead a translational research team at a not-for-profit institution.

Ratain, director of the University of Chicago's Center for Personalized Therapeutics, will use the award to advance the "1200 Patients Project," an effort to individualize cancer care by charting each patient's individual genetic variations as a guide to treatment.

"This project's primary goal," he said, "is to create a center in which personalized therapeutics based on an individual's genetics are the rule, not the exception, where genotyping is a central part of each patient's examination and an important component of treatment planning." The secondary goal is to train physicians and scientists who will become the next leaders in the field of pharmacogenomics.

This award, Ratain added, "will speed us toward those goals."

Established by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the Conquer Cancer Foundation supports vitally important clinical research, patient education, and patient advocacy programs that "benefit the world today and create new hope for the future." Of the four Translational Research Professorships awarded by ASCO, two have gone to University of Chicago faculty. Everett Vokes, MD, the John E. Ultmann Professor and Chair of Medicine, was one of the first co-recipients in 2008.

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