AACR Honors Cancer Genome Atlas Researchers with 2020 Team Science Awards

The American Association for Cancer Research presented the founding members and the current project team associated with The Cancer Genome Atlas with the 2020 AACR Team Science Awards during the AACR Virtual Annual Meeting II. The awardees include UNC Lineberger members Charles Perou, Katherine Hoadley, Joel Parker, Benjamin Vincent, and Jen Jen Yeh.

July 13, 2020

The American Association for Cancer Research presented the founding members and the current project team associated with The Cancer Genome Atlas with the 2020 AACR Team Science Awards during the AACR Virtual Annual Meeting II.

UNC Lineberger faculty have held leadership roles with TCGA, the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute cancer genomics program that brought together researchers from across the globe to develop comprehensive genomic profiles of 33 major cancers. TCGA was launched in 2006 and culminated with more than 28 papers published in leading scientific journals in 2018.

“This is a well-deserved recognition for the TCGA program, its team members, including Chuck, Katie, Joel, Ben and Jen Jen, and the seminal insights the research has generated the past decade and a half,” said UNC Lineberger Director Shelley Earp, MD. “UNC Lineberger’s investment in genomics came just in time and helped position this wonderful group of cancer scientists into TCGA leadership roles. Their contributions have been game changing as we now have a clearer understanding of the genomic drivers of nearly three dozen cancers. We are extremely proud of our UNC Lineberger team; they have helped change the face of cancer care in the state and the world.”

AACR award recipients

TCGA was presented with two awards. One recognized TCGA Pilot Project Network leaders and members, including Charles M. Perou, PhD. UNC Lineberger was a cancer genomics characterization center since 2006 generating expression data for over 10,000 tumors.

The other award honored members of the current TCGA project team, including UNC Lineberger’s Katherine A. Hoadley, PhD, Joel Parker, PhD, Benjamin G. Vincent, MD, and Jen Jen Yeh, MD, for their efforts to analyze the data generated by the project. One key outcome was the development of the Pan-Can Atlas, which provides an expanded classification for cancers based on their genetic and genomic alterations and serves as a critical resource for the development of precision cancer treatments. Hoadley was a member of the Pan-Can Atlas steering committee.

Former UNC Lineberger faculty who were recruited to leadership positions at other cancer centers, Neil Hayes, MD, MPH, and Kim Rathmell, MD, PhD, were key contributors to the UNC TCGA team and were also honored.

“In addition to these groundbreaking discoveries, TCGA has revolutionized cancer genomics research by establishing new standards and procedures for managing interdisciplinary teams of biological scientists, clinicians, computational scientists, and pathologists,” AACR stated in a release. “TCGA has also been influential in developing and implementing universal policies that have made genomic data broadly available for public access."

About the AACR and awards

The AACR Team Science Award was established in 2007 to acknowledge and catalyze the growing importance of interdisciplinary teams to the understanding of cancer and/or the translation of research discoveries into clinical cancer applications. The award recognizes an outstanding interdisciplinary team of researchers for their innovative and meritorious science that has advanced or may advance our fundamental knowledge of cancer, or a team that has applied existing knowledge to advancing the detection, diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of cancer.

The AACR was founded in 1907 and is the oldest and largest scientific organization in the world focused on every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research. Through its programs and services, the AACR fosters research in cancer and related biomedical science; accelerates the dissemination of new research findings among scientists and others dedicated to the conquest of cancer; promotes science education and training; and advances the understanding of cancer etiology, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment throughout the world.

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