AACR CEO Margaret Foti Receives Children’s Champion Award From The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

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margaret foti and group Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), was recognized with the Children’s Champion Award for her outstanding pediatric cancer advocacy efforts, at a town hall meeting of the AACR’s Pediatric Cancer Working Group, in Philadelphia, Sunday, April 19, during the AACR Annual Meeting 2015.

“The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is proud to honor Margaret Foti with the Children’s Champion Award,” said Steven M. Altschuler, MD, CEO of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). “We applaud Dr. Foti’s leadership in advocating on behalf of children with cancer to strengthen both research and advocacy efforts. Her commitment mirrors our mission to enhance the health and well-being of children in the United States and around the world. We are tremendously grateful for this partnership.”

The Children's Champion Award and past honorees

The Children’s Champion Award was established in 2007 by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to honor individuals and/or organizations that improve the lives of children through public health policy, education, and advocacy. Past recipients include Sen. Robert Casey, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Rep. Charlie Dent, Rep. Chaka Fattah, Rep. Joe Pitts, Rep. Pat Meehan, Mayor Michael Nutter, and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick.

“On behalf of clinicians and scientists across the world who are working to advance research and treatment for children with cancer, I am delighted to present Margaret Foti with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Children’s Champion Award,” said Garrett Brodeur, MD, oncologist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and 2015-2016 chairperson of the AACR Pediatric Cancer Working Group Steering Committee. “Dr. Foti has been a staunch advocate for pediatric cancer for decades, increasing its visibility and underscoring how the significance of research findings in pediatrics can impact the understanding of adult cancers.”

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Children’s Champion Award,” said Foti. “Our children are our future, and I have both a personal and professional commitment to their well-being and survival from the devastating collection of diseases we call childhood cancer. I am immensely proud of receiving this award from one of the greatest children’s cancer institutions in the country. The AACR is dedicated to advancing pediatric cancer research, but cancer is the leading cause of disease-related death among children in the United States, and this sobering statistic reminds all of us that we urgently need to do more. We will continue to work hard to foster the research advances that will lead to more cures for children affected by cancer.”

Dr. Foti's contributions

During Foti’s tenure as CEO of the AACR, membership has grown from about 3,000 to 35,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical researchers; population scientists; other health care professionals; and cancer advocates residing in 101 countries. Of these 35,000 members, nearly 2,000 comprise the membership of the AACR Pediatric Cancer Working Group. In addition, the organization’s scientific meetings, peer-reviewed journals, and science policy work have flourished, furthering progress against all cancers through research, education, communication, and collaboration.

Through her visionary leadership, the AACR established the Pediatric Cancer Working Group in 2011 to ensure that childhood cancer research is a global priority supported by improved federal and philanthropic funding, the latest technologies, and the most effective educational strategies. Along with steady increases in membership, the working group has been essential to the establishment of new AACR funding opportunities and to special conferences focused on pediatric cancer. The second of these conferences is scheduled to be held Nov. 9–12, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Foti also leads the AACR’s Scientific Partnership with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), a charitable initiative that supports groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated time frame, including to patients with pediatric cancer through the SU2C-St. Baldrick’s Dream Team, which is working on a project titled “Immunogenomics to Create New Therapies for High-risk Childhood Cancers.” The AACR plays an integral role by providing expert peer review, grants administration, and scientific oversight of individual and team science grants in cancer research that have the potential for near-term patient benefit.

Under Foti’s guidance, the AACR has become an outspoken proponent of policies that support adult and pediatric cancers. The organization engages with policymakers through its Science Policy and Government Affairs Committee and Washington, D.C., office, which opened in 2007 to amplify the voice of cancer researchers, patients, survivors, and caregivers on Capitol Hill. The AACR’s commitment to advocacy is evident through the leading role it plays in organizing the annual Rally for Medical Research Hill Day, which raises awareness among the nation’s policymakers about the need to make funding for the National Institutes of Health a national priority and the importance of continued investment in medical research.

Dr. Foti's awards and recognitions

Foti’s contributions have been widely recognized by numerous awards from organizations around the world. Her extensive list of formal recognitions includes honorary degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Rome La Sapienza and the University of Catania in Sicily, and an honorary degree in medicine from the University CEU of San Pablo in Madrid. Most recently, she received the 2014 Ellen V. Sigal Advocacy Leadership Award from Friends of Cancer Research, the 2014 Morton M. Kligerman Visiting Professorship Award from the University of Pennsylvania, the 2013 Stanley P. Reimann Honor Award from Fox Chase Cancer Center, and the 2013 Distinguished Partner in Hope Award during the Annual Colorectal Cancer Conference hosted by the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Foti received her award during the Pediatric Cancer Working Group’s town hall meeting, which was held in Philadelphia in the Regency Ballroom C at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, 6:30 p.m., Sunday, April 19.