ASCO Endows Young Investigator Award in Honor of Society Founder Jane C. Wright, MD

Apr 26, 2016

For the first time in ASCO’s history, the Society has endowed its own Young Investigator Award (YIA), illustrating its continued commitment to investing in the future of cancer research. Ongoing support of this kind will ensure that the Conquer Cancer Foundation (CCF), ASCO’s philanthropic arm, is well equipped to continue funding the oncology leaders of tomorrow through a program that has helped successfully jump-start the careers of more than 894 physician-scientists. It is entirely fitting, therefore, that ASCO has chosen to name the YIA in memory of one of its seven founding members—the only woman among them—and a venerable giant in the field of oncology, Jane Cooke Wright, MD.

A renowned researcher, mentor, and chemotherapy pioneer, Dr. Wright left an indelible mark on the oncology community. Upon graduating with honors from New York Medical College in 1945, she dedicated the next 40 years to cancer research and treatment, and earned her reputation as a true trailblazer. Her successful career included many noteworthy titles and accomplishments, including head of the Cancer Research Foundation at Harlem Hospital at age 33; appointee to the President’s Commission on Heart Disease, Cancer, and Stroke by President Lyndon B. Johnson; highest ranked African-American woman at a nationally recognized medical institution; and the first woman president of the New York Cancer Society. She was instrumental in establishing ASCO as a new society during a pivotal time. This YIA pays tribute to her remarkable leadership at ASCO, her many contributions to the field of oncology, and her tenacity in finding a cure for cancer.

“Our mother devoted her career to scientific research and discovery; yet, she maintained an ever-present focus on patients and the quality of their care,” said Alison W. Jones, PhD, and Jane W. Jones, MD, Dr. Wright’s daughters. “She believed in the value of mentoring the next generation of researchers and inspired her students to approach their work with some of the same attributes that are a part of her permanent footprint on the history of cancer care—passion, ambition, and determination. ASCO’s endowment of the YIA in her memory symbolizes the Society’s enduring support of the promising investigators and leaders to come, and she would be incredibly proud to be its namesake.”

The Conquer Cancer Foundation established its first three endowed YIAs in 2013 as a result of financial support provided to sustain the YIA program, one that is critical to CCF’s mission to improve the care and treatment of people living with cancer. The Foundation is pleased to announce that two additional supporters have joined ASCO in endowing new YIAs in 2016: the Åke Bertil Eriksson Endowed Young Investigator Award, supported by Aaron and Barbro Sasson and the Anna Braglia Endowed Young Investigator Award in Cancer Supportive Care, supported by HELSINN.

CCF is grateful to the generous supporters who have endowed its YIAs, and hopes that this positive momentum will raise awareness of the opportunity to fund a greater amount of meritorious applicants who have the potential to accelerate the pace of discovery and, ultimately, improve global cancer care.

The inaugural recipients of the Jane C. Wright, MD, Endowed YIA and Åke Bertil Eriksson Endowed YIA will be awarded at the Grants & Awards Ceremony on Sunday, June 5, during the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago. Learn more about CCF’s endowments and funding opportunities.

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