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AACR Awards Centennial Medals for Distinguished Public Service


DENVER, CO — April 14, 2009

In commemoration of 100 years of progress in cancer research, the American Association for Cancer Research will present Kathy Giusti and Nicholas P. (Nick) Valvano with the AACR Centennial Medal for Distinguished Public Service at the opening ceremony of its 100th Annual Meeting 2009 on Sunday, April 19.

Giusti and Valvano were chosen for this honor by AACR's Board of Directors in recognition of their commitment and dedication to the fight against cancer and their efforts to increase public awareness and raise funds for research, treatment and support of people with cancer.

Kathy Giusti is the founder and chief executive officer of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). As a 13-year survivor of multiple myeloma, Giusti is being recognized for creating an innovative model for new drug development focusing on collaboration, speed and accountability to accelerate the availability of new treatment options, and eventually a cure, for patients with multiple myeloma.

"I am deeply honored to accept this award," said Guisti. "To be in the company of this year's winners – the SU2C Founders and Nick Valvano – is extremely flattering and humbling. These are individuals whose tenacity and unwillingness to accept the status quo in how cancer research is conducted are truly making a difference in the lives of all cancer patients."

Since its creation in 1998, the MMRF has raised more than $115 million in support of cancer research. Under Giusti's leadership, the foundation developed a unique collaboration of 15 prestigious academic institutions and a sister organization, the MMRC, to advance phase I and II clinical trials. They also contribute to and share access to a high quality tissue bank. Since its launch in 2004, the MMRC has initiated 18 clinical trials in collaboration with its industry partners. Several other medical charities have emulated this successful model.

"Kathy's extraordinary story is a powerful testimony to what one person with a vision can accomplish," said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), chief executive officer of the AACR. "Her driving belief that a collaborative approach to research holds the answers to improving and extending the lives of multiple myeloma patients makes Kathy an excellent recipient of AACR's Centennial Medal for Distinguished Public Service."

Nicholas P. (Nick) Valvano is chief executive officer of The V Foundation, which was founded in 1993 by his brother Jim Valvano as he waged his personal battle with cancer. Jim was the legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN broadcaster. The AACR selected Nick Valvano for this distinguished award to recognize him for his dedicated leadership of The V Foundation and its inspirational advocacy, education, fundraising and philanthropic efforts on behalf of cancer research.

"You don't do this kind of work for recognition, but it's great to know that people think the foundation is doing some good work," said Valvano.

Marshalling the talents and visibility of major sports figures, The V Foundation has been instrumental in creating an urgent awareness of the importance of cancer research and has raised more than $70 million for cancer research grants. Through the novel creation of an endowment fund to cover all of the foundation's operating expenses, The V Foundation announced in October 2006 that all donation revenue and net proceeds from events will be used solely to fund cancer research and related programs; none will go to overhead.

"I use the grief and sorrow we felt when my brother was diagnosed and passed away to guide us with what the foundation does," Valvano said. "We work hard to keep people in touch with the scientists doing the research. The more you know about the progress being made, the more reasons you have to hope."

"Combining creativity and drive with a sincere belief that there is a better way to do things is what has enabled Nick, his brother Jim before him, and The V Foundation to be so successful in raising money to help young scientists start their labs, to encourage multidisciplinary research and, especially, to fund projects in the communities," said Foti. "That is an incredible way to raise awareness of the importance and value of contributing to the cause of cancer research."

To mark the 100th anniversary of the AACR, the AACR Board of Directors – a distinguished panel of senior cancer scientists – established the AACR Centennial Medal to honor individuals in the public arena who have made significant and sustained contributions in the fight against cancer through their extraordinary contributions to cancer research advocacy and awareness. Past recipients include: Lance Armstrong, chairman and founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation; Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; The Honorable Arlen Specter, U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania; The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye, U.S. Senator, Hawaii; The Honorable Rosa L. DeLauro, U.S. Representative, Connecticut; and The Honorable Sue Myrick, U.S. Representative, North Carolina.

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes more than 28,000 basic, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and nearly 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.