National Cancer Institute honors medicine professor with prestigious award

Afshin Dowlati, associate professor of medicine, recently received the Michaele C. Christian Oncology Development Lectureship and Award from the National Cancer Institute.

The award recognizes the contributions of individuals to the development of novel agents for cancer therapy. Dowlati, who was chosen unanimously to receive this honor, was recognized for his scientific accomplishments, program-building and mentorship of the next generation of clinical researchers in oncology.

The award and presentation were made at the annual fall NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program Early Drug Development meeting.

“This award is a true tribute to the national impact and stature of Afshin’s discoveries in cancer therapeutics,” said Stanton Gerson, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University, and the University Hospitals Case Medical Center Seidman Cancer Center. “Afshin is a respected clinician and leader in developing novel treatments and has built our early phase cancer therapeutics program as well as our lung cancer program into one of the best in the nation. It is one of the crown jewels of the Cancer Center and is known worldwide for its exemplary clinical care and cutting edge research,” said Gerson.

Dowlati joined the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in 2000 and leads the Developmental Therapeutics Program, through which he coordinates all Phase One clinical trials in novel cancer agents research at the Cancer Center. He also directs the multidisciplinary lung cancer team comprised of oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, nurses, psychiatrists, social workers and dieticians at Seidman Cancer Center. In this position, he continues to advance new drug development, drug discovery and targeted therapies for cancer.

Dowlati’s in-depth lung cancer research has made headlines and changed the standard of care for advanced lung cancer. He was part of the group that presented significant findings in 2005 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) illustrating that a novel drug can produce improved survival rates for patients with advanced, non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer. The following year, Dowlati took this research one step further and presented findings at ASCO about a promising new biomarker that may be used to predict the survival of patients with lung cancer and their response to this new drug and other treatments.

This award was established by the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program in 2007 to honor the 20-year NCI career of Michaele C. Christian. Christian served as associate director of the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program and as head of the Investigational Drug Branch, overseeing the clinical development of novel anticancer agents.