On opening day of the 2022 World Conference on Lung Cancer, four leaders in the field of thoracic oncology were celebrated for their contributions during the IASLC Awards Ceremony. This annual awards presentation not only honors the recipients for their lifelong achievements and dedication to the profession; it also pays tribute to the lung cancer legends for which the awards are named.
Paul A. Bunn Jr. Scientific Award
Medical oncologist James Chih-Hsin Yang, MD, PhD, received the Paul A. Bunn Jr. Scientific Award. Dr. Yang’s research focuses on lung cancer treatment and the mechanism of resistance to chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Dr. Yang is a leader in lung cancer new drug development. Working with fellow investigators in Asia, he established the TKI as the front-line treatment for lung cancer patients with EGFR mutations.
Dr. Yang is also the principal investigator of several studies that led to the global approval of the second-generation EGFR TKI, afatinib, and contributed to the development of the third-generation TKI osimertinib. His studies focused on improving treatment outcomes for EGFR-positive patients. He contributed to and established the standards for the treatment of patients with uncommon EGFR mutations and leptomeningeal metastasis.
His clinical research has examined EGFR TKIs in combination with chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and immunotherapy. He has published more than 300 papers in peer-reviewed journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet Oncology, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Cancer Discovery, and the Journal of Thoracic Oncology. He served more than 15 years as associate editor of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology.
Dr. Yang has practiced at National Taiwan University (NTU) Hospital since 1995 and chaired the Department of Oncology from 2015 to 2020. He has led the NTU Cancer Center hospital since August 2020 and has directed the NTU Cancer Research Center since August 2021. He currently is president of the Taiwan Oncology Society and president of the Taiwan Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.
The Paul A. Bunn Jr. Scientific Award recognizes an IASLC investigator for a lifetime achievement of scientific contributions to thoracic cancer research.
Joseph W. Cullen Prevention & Early Detection Award
Thoracic radiologist Edward Patz, MD, received the Joseph W. Cullen Prevention & Early Detection Award. Dr. Patz is known for his long-standing interest in early lung cancer detection, molecular diagnostics, and novel therapeutic strategies. He has been studying lung cancer for more than 25 years and has been involved in numerous clinical trials, including the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial (NLST).
Dr. Patz has been the principal investigator of a basic science laboratory that is currently exploring the clonal evolution of tumors, cell-free plasma DNA as biomarkers for early detection, and the role of inflammation in cancer.
His work has resulted in several seminal publications with positive implications on patient care. His experience as both a clinical and basic science researcher, particularly in lung cancer biology, provides a unique perspective to help move these innovative translational projects forward to improve patient care and outcomes.
Dr. Patz has been involved with many lung cancer initiatives, including the IASLC staging project.
The Joseph W. Cullen Prevention/Early Detection Award recognizes an IASLC scientist for a lifetime achievement in the prevention of thoracic malignancies. Dr. Cullen served as Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. He created the Smoking, Tobacco and Cancer Program at the NCI in 1982.
Mary J. Matthews Pathology & Transitional Research Award
Rafael Rosell, MD, PhD, received the Mary J. Matthews Pathology & Transitional Research Award. Dr. Rosell is director of the Cancer Biology and Precision Medicine Program at the Catalan Institute of Oncology, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol in Barcelona, Spain. He is also chief scientific officer, chair, and founder of Pangaea Oncology SL and chief medical officer and president of the Dr. Rosell Oncology Institute as well as founder and president of the Molecular Oncology Research Foundation.
Dr. Rosell is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology committee on Clinical Practice Living Guidelines—Systemic Therapy for Stage IV NSCLC and has written more than 600 articles in scientific journals.
The Mary J. Matthews Pathology/Translational Research Award recognizes an IASLC scientist for a lifetime achievement in pathology and translational research of thoracic malignancies. Dr. Matthews served as a senior investigator and pathologist at the National Cancer Institute’s Medical Oncology Branch. She was a pioneer in the foundation of the histologic subtypes of lung cancer and the relationship between those subtypes and the clinical course of lung cancer.
Adi F. Gazdar IASLC Merit Award
Thoracic surgeon Valerie W. Rusch, MD, received the Adi F. Gazdar IASLC Merit Award. Dr. Rusch is vice chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where she holds the Miner Family Chair in Intrathoracic Cancers.
Dr. Rusch is a past president of the American College of Surgeons and has held leadership positions in the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Society for Thoracic Surgeons, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, and at IASLC. She has also served as a director and chair of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery.
Dr. Rusch is the recipient of multiple teaching awards, an author of more than 450 peer-reviewed publications, holds more than 50 visiting professorships, and has delivered more than 400 invited lectures.
After residencies in general and cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Washington, she served as a faculty associate at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, then a faculty member at the University of Washington.
She moved to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in 1989, where she served as chief of thoracic surgery from 2000 to 2013. Dr. Rusch’s career has been devoted to thoracic surgical oncology, to clinical and translational research, and she has been principal investigator for multiple National Cancer Institute-sponsored Cooperative Group clinical trials.
The Adi F. Gazdar IASLC Merit Award recognizes and honors Dr. Gazdar’s lifelong dedication to lung cancer research through his pioneering work in molecular pathology. In 2019, the IASLC board of directors unanimously voted to elevate its recognition of Dr. Adi F. Gazdar to one of its highest honors by renaming the IASLC Merit Award for Dr. Gazdar.