Seven MD Anderson faculty elected as AAAS Fellows

In recognition of wide-ranging contributions to the fields of cancer prevention, patient care, and basic, translational, and clinical research, seven faculty members from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Election as a Fellow, a tradition that began in 1874, is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. MD Anderson’s faculty now includes 40 AAAS Fellows.

“It is a great honor to be recognized as an AAAS Fellow, and we are proud to add seven more of our outstanding scientists and clinicians who work tirelessly for our patients and push the frontiers of cancer science,” said Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “As we celebrate 75 years of serving patients around the world, we applaud our faculty members’ distinguished work and further commit to Making Cancer History for generations to come.”

MD Anderson’s newly elected AAAS Fellows are:

Ralph B. Arlinghaus, Ph.D., professor of Translational Molecular Pathology, for research, teaching and leadership in oncology. He is known for his studies on RNA tumor viruses, the v-Mos oncoprotein and the role of Bcr in Bcr-Abl positive human leukemia. Arlinghaus has authored more than 260 journal publications and book chapters.

Powel H. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Clinical Cancer Prevention, for developing and testing novel therapies for the prevention of breast cancer. Brown is a leader in studies of estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer development and progression. His findings have improved the understanding of breast cancer subtypes and identified critical drug targets for breast cancer treatment.

Junjie Chen, Ph.D., chair of Experimental Radiation Oncology, for advancements to the field of DNA damage response and genomic integrity, particularly for clarifying how the breast cancer tumor suppressors BRCA1 and BRCA2 act to promote DNA repair and genomic stability. His work has resulted in a clearer understanding of the complex framework underlying DNA damage and how this might be utilized for cancer therapy.

Andy Futreal, Ph.D., chair ad interim of Genomic Medicine, for contributions to the fields of cancer susceptibility genetics and somatic cancer genomics. Futreal pioneered the use of large-scale genomics to characterize and identify novel human cancer genes, leading to the landmark discovery of the role of BRAF mutations in melanoma development and rapid approval of the first effective targeted breakthrough therapy for advanced melanoma. He identified mutations in the BRCA1, BRCA2 and ERRB2 genes that contribute to tumor development, and developed the Catalogue of Somatic Mutations (COSMIC) database of somatically acquired mutations found in human cancer.

Eugenie S.Kleinerman, M.D., professor of Pediatrics, for clinical and scientific expertise in osteosarcoma. Kleinerman pioneered the first effective immunotherapy for children with osteosarcoma, improving long-term survival from 70 to 78 percent. She further defined the role of the Fas/FasL, Notch, Osterix and REST proteins in osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma metastasis.

Jeffrey N. Myers, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Head and Neck Surgery, for comprehensive genomic characterizations of oral cancers. Myers performed some of the initial analysis of gene expression, copy number, methylation and point mutations in squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, oral cavity and skin. He also developed a novel computational approach to classify patients with tumors harboring p52 mutations, which have prognostic and predictive value.

David J. Tweardy, M.D., professor of Infectious Disease and division head of Internal Medicine, for distinguished contributions to the understanding of cytokine signaling and the role of STAT proteins in inflammation and cancer development. Using STAT3 inhibitors, Tweardy clarified the contribution of STAT3 to the host damage response. His findings revealed how STAT3 modulation may be harnessed to prevent and treat cancer and chronic inflammatory diseases.

About the AAAS
Founded in 1874, the AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society. Fellows must be nominated by either the steering groups of the association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of them are not affiliated with the nominee's institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Each steering group then reviews the nominations within its respective section and a final list is forwarded to the AAAS Council, which votes on the aggregate list.

This year 391 members have been awarded this honor because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on February 18 at the 2017 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.