Lee Ellis honored by AACR for contributions to education and training in cancer research

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has honored Lee Ellis, M.D., professor of Colon and Rectal Surgery at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, as the 2022 recipient of the AACR Daniel D. Von Hoff Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education and Training in Cancer Research.

“Being recognized by AACR is a great honor, and we are so pleased to see Lee receive this award for his longstanding commitment to cancer care, research, education and training,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “His leadership in mentoring the next generation of cancer physicians and researchers will have a profound and lasting impact on cancer patients worldwide.”

AACR established the Von Hoff Award to honor an individual who has contributed significantly to the education and training of cancer researchers and other professionals at all career levels, especially of early-career and early-stage investigators. Daniel Von Hoff is known for conceptualizing the AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop, which began in 1996. The annual weeklong workshop provides intensive mentoring to help oncology fellows and junior faculty develop effective clinical trial protocols. Ellis first participated in the workshop as a student, then as a faculty mentor and co-director.

Ellis is internationally recognized for his pioneering contributions to understanding cell signaling and angiogenesis in gastrointestinal malignancies, for leading a public dialogue on reproducibility of preclinical results, and for his work in setting standards for clinical trial endpoints. He conducted groundbreaking research on the biology of metastatic colorectal cancer and identified VEGF as a valid therapeutic target that is now standard of care for patients with these malignancies. His laboratory also was the first to correctly hypothesize that mutated Ras could be a resistance marker for EGFR-targeted therapies.

In addition to training and mentoring fellows, laboratory investigators, clinical investigators and junior faculty at MD Anderson for three decades, Ellis has served on numerous national workshops and committees dedicated to clinical and translational cancer research training. His dedication to education and mentorship of early-career investigators includes:

  •  Four years as a site visitor for the National Cancer Institute Surgery Branch
  • Six years as co-director of the AACR/ASCO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop
  • Seven years as faculty on the ESMO Methods in Clinical Cancer Research Workshop
  • Eight years as faculty on the SWOG Young Investigator Training Course and, currently, SWOG Vice Chair for Translational Research
  • 10 years as co-director of MD Anderson’s Surgical Oncology Training Program
  •  11 years as principal investigator of the MD Anderson Surgical Oncology NIH-T32 training grant

Through his education and training efforts, as well as his many leadership roles at the AACR, ASCO, ESMO, SWOG and other organizations, Ellis has made a long-term impact on cancer research, cancer medicine and the lives of countless clinical and research fellows and faculty around the globe.

“It has been a great honor to get to know so many colleagues and trainees at the workshops Dan Von Hoff envisioned and to be recognized for training the next generation of cancer researchers,” Ellis said. “I am deeply passionate about education and service, and it’s gratifying to see some of the professionals I’ve mentored now taking on leadership positions themselves and continuing to apply what they’ve learned to make progress for cancer patients around the world.”