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AACR CEO Margaret Foti Is Recognized With Ovarcome Excellence Award

In keynote address, Foti highlights progress, challenges and the need for collaboration. By Marci A. Landsmann

​Margaret Foti, chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), has been honored with the Ovarcome Excellence Award in recognition of her longtime career advancing ovarian cancer research. The award from Ovarcome, a Houston-based foundation that provides grants for researchers and financial support to ovarian cancer patients worldwide, was presented at the organization’s May 21 gala event in Houston.

​Margaret Foti (on left), chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research, stands with Runsi Sen, founder, president and chief executive officer of Ovarcome. | Photo by Paul Driscoll
During her keynote address, Foti stressed the importance of sustained research funding, collaboration and the work of organizations like Ovarcome.

“Cancer touches us all, either directly or indirectly because of the diagnosis of cancer in a loved one,” said Foti, who oversees the largest membership organization of cancer researchers in the world. In the late 1990s, Foti’s sister was diagnosed with stage IIIC ovarian cancer. She is doing well now after participating in a phase I clinical trial that included a stem cell transplant and three administrations of high-dose chemotherapy. Her sister has eight grandchildren, Foti said, “whom she would never have known had it not been for cancer research and all the hard work and dedicated efforts of scientists and health care professionals on the front lines of patient care.”

Research continues to open more treatment avenues, Foti said. In the 1970s, Susan Band Horwitz, who is now a professor of pharmacology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, studied how a chemical called paclitaxel (Taxol) could kill cancer cells. This chemotherapy still forms the cornerstone of ovarian cancer treatment. And geneticist Mary-Claire King identified the BRCA1 gene in 1990. Mutations in this gene increase the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and patients who know they have the mutation can get appropriate screening and take preventive measures, such as having surgery to remove their ovaries and breasts, if they choose.

Despite these discoveries, ovarian cancer is still the deadliest of gynecologic cancers, Foti stressed. And while progress has been made, particularly in learning more about the genetic makeup of individual ovarian tumors, more work needs to be done.

“Today’s advances will continue at a rapid pace, provided there is sufficient federal and philanthropic funding for research,” said Foti. “That is why we are so happy that one of Ovarcome’s goals is to fund research in search of a cure.”

“It is our absolute privilege and honor to bestow the Ovarcome Excellence Award 2016 to Dr. Margaret Foti,” said Runsi Sen, founder, president and chief executive officer of Ovarcome. “Her personal connection and commitment to ovarian cancer and her extraordinary leadership in advancing the mission of global cancer research make us immensely proud to have the opportunity to recognize her.”

Marci A. Landsmann is the editor of Cancer Today.


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