LOS ANGELES – January 28, 2020— Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) has awarded the 2020 Laura Ziskin Prize in Translational Research to two highly respected clinical investigators who will come together in a novel collaboration between leaders in breast cancer immuno-oncology and tumor immunology for research to further the availability of immune checkpoint inhibitors for breast cancer patients. Dr. Leisha A. Emens, MD, PhD of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, and Dr. Xiang Zhang, PhD of Baylor College of Medicine will share a $250,000 grant for their year-long research project which was awarded today at the 2020 SU2C Scientific Summit in Santa Monica.
The Ziskin Prize is named after legendary Hollywood producer and Stand Up To Cancer Co-Founder Laura Ziskin, who lived with breast cancer for seven years before it took her life in 2011. Inaugurated in 2012, the prize was created with $1.1 million for this purpose in Ziskin’s will and has been awarded in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019.
“With their diverse backgrounds and complementary expertise, we’re confident that these two investigators will make great contributions to further develop therapies that could provide improved outcomes for breast cancer patients – and potentially reduce mortality rates,” said Selection Committee co-chair John Glaspy, MD, MPH, professor. In granting the award, Selection Committee members included: co-chair Stephen Baylin, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine; Lewis Cantley, PhD, Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medical College/Ronald P. Stanton Clinical Cancer Program at New York-Presbyterian; Gordon Mills, MD, PhD, OHSU Knight Cancer Institute; Carlos Arteaga, MD, Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center; Ingrid Mayer, MD, MSCI, Vanderbilt University; Nancy Davidson, MD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Dennis Slamon, MD, PhD, Chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and executive vice chair for research for UCLA’s Department of Medicine; and Matthew Ellis, MB, BChir, BSc, PhD, FRCP, Baylor College of Medicine.
Dr. Emens is a professor of medicine in hematology/oncology, co-leader of the Hillman Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Program, and director of translational immunotherapy for the Women’s Cancer Research Center (WCRC) at UPMC. She is internationally recognized for her work in breast cancer immunotherapy. Clinically, she has developed a vaccine for breast cancer patients, and most recently led the development of atezolizumab from preclinical evaluation in human breast tumors to Phase 1 and Phase 3 clinical trials, resulting in an FDA approval for advanced triple negative breast cancer.
Dr. Zhang is a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine Breast Center whose research focuses on metastatic breast cancer where he has made significant contributions to the field. In the area of bone metastasis, he discovered the osteogenic niche that promotes early-stage bone colonization and invented a series of pre-clinical models and technologies to accelerate anti-metastasis drug discovery. In the area of tumor immunology and immunotherapies, he has made significant discoveries regarding the tumor microenvironment and its responses to checkpoint blockade therapies and has given a new understanding of how these interactions can affect the therapies.
About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer® (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a division of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by media and entertainment leaders who utilize these communities’ resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, to increase awareness about cancer prevention, and to highlight progress being made in the fight against the disease. As of December 2019, more than 1,600 scientists representing more than 180 institutions are involved in SU2C-funded research projects.
Under the direction of our Scientific Advisory Committee, led by Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D., SU2C operates rigorous competitive review processes to identify the best research proposals to recommend for funding, oversee grants administration, and ensure collaboration across research programs.
Current members of the SU2C Council of Founders and Advisors (CFA) include Katie Couric, Sherry Lansing, Kathleen Lobb, Lisa Paulsen, Rusty Robertson, Sue Schwartz, Pamela Oas Williams, and Ellen Ziffren. The late Laura Ziskin and the late Noreen Fraser are also co-founders. Sung Poblete, Ph.D., R.N., serves as SU2C’s CEO. For more information, visit StandUpToCancer.org.
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Jane E. Rubinstein
Sr. VP Communications
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