The Pezcoller-Marina Larcher Fogazzaro-EACR Women in Cancer Research Award celebrates the achievements of a cancer researcher who has demonstrated academic excellence and achievements in the field of cancer research and who has, through leadership or by example, furthered the advancement of women in cancer research.
The 2022 winner will give the prestigious Pezcoller-Marina Larcher Fogazzaro-EACR Women in Cancer Research Award Lecture at the EACR 2022 Congress ‘Innovative Cancer Science: Translating Biology to Medicine’ to be held in Seville, Spain from 20 – 23 June 2022.
The award winner will receive a €10,000 honorarium. They will also be invited to give a lecture at the Pezcoller Foundation in Trento, Italy, at a date to be agreed.
María S. Soengas is the Head of the Melanoma Group and the Dean for Academic Affairs at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in Madrid. The long-term goal of her team is to translate basic research in melanoma into the clinic by identifying novel tumour markers and drug targets.
The interest of Soengas in melanoma stems from her studies as a postdoctoral fellow at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (NY). There, she performed the first functional characterization of apoptotic factors as melanoma suppressors and chemoresistance mediators. She then decided to incorporate patient biopsies to her projects on cellular and animal models of melanoma. To this end, she joined the Department of Dermatology at the University of Michigan, which hosts one of the largest Multidisciplinary Melanoma Clinics in the US. In 2008 she moved to the CNIO, setting up a multidisciplinary laboratory which has now expanded to ambitious national and international networks.
Results from her team have led to the identification of novel oncogenes and tumor suppressors (papers in Nature, Science, Nature Cell Biology, Cancer Cell, PNAS or Cancer Research, among others). Studies in her group combine genetic and functional analyses in cells with human biopsies and sophisticated animal models. In particular, they have generated immunocompetent and immunodeficient animal models for non-invasive imaging of pre-metastatic niches in melanoma (Nature), and have identified signaling cascades define resistance to immunomodulatory agents actively used in clinical trials (Nature Medicine; EMBO Mol Med).
Results from her group served as the basis for the constitution of Bioncotech Therapeutics (now Highlight Therapeutics), which has now immunomodulatory agents in Phase II clinical trials. With respect to committee services, Soengas is actively involved in training of predoctoral and postdoctoral fellows, as well as junior investigators.
Soengas has received fellowships and awards from the American Dermatology Foundation, the Elsa V. Pardee Foundation and the V Foundation for Cancer Research and the World Wide Cancer Research, among others. She also received the Dana Ashby Young Investigator Award of the Melanoma Research Foundation, as well as the Outstanding Research Investigator Award and the Elsa Medrano Award by the Society for Melanoma Research (SMR), or the Fritz Anders Medal by the Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research, among others. Soengas is also actively involved in initiatives to empower and promote career development for female scientists. She has lead an international L’Oreal-MRA Women-Lead Team Award, and is the coordinator of the “Women in Science” section of Spanish Association for Cancer Research (Asociación Española de Investigación sobre el Cáncer, ASEICA). She has been recently elected as Vice President of ASEICA, and sits at multiple advisory boards of national and international institutions.
The Pezcoller Foundation is a non-profit institution, whose goal is to promote scientific research against diseases which afflict mankind, specifically the fight against cancer. The Founder, Prof. Alessio Pezcoller, was Chief Surgeon at Santa Chiara Hospital in Trento, Italy. The Foundation was established in 1980.
The Foundation depends primarily on the substantial sum of money bequeathed by Professor Alessio Pezcoller, and by significant contributions from its sponsors: the Cassa di Risparmio di Trento e Rovereto Foundation, the Province of Trento, the Administrative Councils of Trento and of Rovereto and other occasional private donations.
Due to its ever increasing recognition within the international oncological community, the Foundation collaborates with some of the most important cancer institutions: the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the European Association for Cancer Research (EACR). The Pezcoller Awards are officially recognised during the international conferences of the two above mentioned associations.
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