AACR: MD Anderson’s Scott Kopetz and Elizabeth Travis honored with 2024 Scientific Achievement Awards

Awards presented at AACR Annual Meeting recognize significant achievements in translational research and oncology leadership

Two researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will be honored with Scientific Achievement Awards at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2024 for accomplishments in clinical and translational research as well as outstanding leadership in oncology. 

Scott Kopetz, M.D., Ph.D., will be presented with the AACR-Waun Ki Hong Award for Outstanding Achievement in Translational and Clinical Cancer Research. Kopetz spearheaded the development of novel therapies for patients with BRAF-mutated metastatic colon cancer with poor prognoses. The AACR-Women in Cancer Research Charlotte Friend Lectureship will be awarded to Elizabeth Travis, Ph.D., for her lauded research contributions to defining the effects of radiation on normal tissues, and for her leadership in supporting women and their careers in science.

“We are proud to see Drs. Kopetz and Travis recognized by AACR for their remarkable research accomplishments and exemplary leadership,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Their work has defined current practices in medical and radiation oncology, and their commitment to leadership and impactful research has inspired many clinicians and scientists.”

Kopetz, professor of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology and associate vice president for Translational Integration, is internationally renowned as a leader in colorectal cancer. He is honored for exceptional translational and clinical research and for leading efforts to establish new standards of care for BRAF-mutated metastatic colorectal cancer, which previously had a poor prognosis. Using molecular profiling and patient-derived xenografts, Kopetz discovered resistance mechanisms and approaches to overcome these pathways. He led clinical studies evaluating vemurafenib, cetuximab and irinotecan, including the Phase III BEACON study that resulted in additions to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of encorafenib plus cetuximab. Kopetz will present his award lecture April 7.

Travis, professor of Experimental Radiation Oncology, dedicated 41 years of service to cancer research and patients. Her seminal contributions have advanced both the field of radiation oncology and the careers of many clinicians and scientists. Throughout her career, Travis dedicated herself to supporting women in science through her leadership and mentorship. She also worked tirelessly to educate, train and advocate for trainees and young faculty in science and medicine. She pioneered the study of pulmonary complications in cancer therapy and the effects of radiation on normal tissues. She developed the now-standard method for measuring indications of radiation damage, opened the study into the pathophysiology of radiation lung damage, and demonstrated that bone marrow transplantation reduces lethality from abdominal irradiation and intestinal damage. Travis will present her award lecture April 8.

“The work of Dr. Kopetz and Dr. Travis exemplifies MD Anderson’s commitment to exceptional research that can bring meaningful benefits to patients,” said Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph. D., chief scientific officer at MD Anderson. “We applaud their contributions to the field and congratulate them on these prestigious honors from AACR.”