Research Achievement, Federal Support Highlighted at AACI Annual Meeting

AACI recognized scientific achievement and federal support for cancer research at its annual meeting in October in Washington, DC.

Carl H. June, MD, received the 2017 AACI Distinguished Scientist Award for his pioneering efforts in gene transfer therapy to treat cancer. U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Bob Casey (D-PA) received 2017 AACI Public Service Awards.

Dr. June is director of translational research at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, and Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Following presentation of his AACI award on October 16, Dr. June delivered a talk, "Recent Advances in T Cell Therapy for Cancer Treatment", that highlighted his ongoing work and the implications of the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationís approval of gene transfer therapy to treat cancer.

Senators Blunt and Casey received their AACI awards during lunch at the AACI annual meeting on October 16. Sara Maskornick, legislative assistant to Sen. Casey, accepted the award on the senatorís behalf from fellow Pennsylvanian Karen Knudsen, PhD, director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University, in Philadelphia. Ms. Maskornick conveyed the senatorís appreciation to AACI and the cancer centers, particularly the Pennsylvania cancer centers. Sen. Casey has been an outspoken supporter of strong federal funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) throughout his tenure in the senate, writing appropriators for the last several years in support of this funding.

After accepting his award from AACI President-elect Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, Sen. Blunt delivered remarks underscoring his support for the NIH and federal funding for cancer research and his close ties with his home state cancer centers the Siteman Cancer Center, in St. Louis, and Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, in Columbia.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Sen. Blunt has worked to provide significant increases for the NIH. For Fiscal Year 2018, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee has proposed a $2 billion increase for the NIH. He urged the assembled cancer center leaders to continue to press their elected officials in Washington for increased cancer research funding.

AACIís Board of Directors, the AACI/CCAF Annual Meeting Program Committee and the AACI Government Relations Forum Steering Committee selected the senators for recognition.