Awarding outstanding contributions to cancer science and medicine: José Baselga, Manel Esteller, and Joan Massagué presented with the XXVIII Catalonia International Prize

Celebrated yesterday evening, internationally recognized trailblazer of transformative science and medicine against cancer José Baselga, Physician-in-Chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – MSKCC (New York, USA), Past President of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), and President of VHIO´s Scientific Committee, received the prestigious Catalonia International Prize, alongside his co-awardees, Manel Esteller, Director of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute´s (IDIBELL) Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program (Barcelona, Spain), and Joan Massagué, Director of MSKCC, and Chair of IRB Barcelona´s External Advisory Board.

As advanced last July in VHIO news, this year´s prize is the first to recognize Catalan-born citizens – three to be precise. This trio of internationally acclaimed experts in oncology were selected among 138 nominees across some 57 countries and awarded for their extraordinary contributions that have significantly accelerated precision cancer science and medicine.

More specifically, the 2016 Catalonia International Prize salutes José Baselga, Manel Esteller, and Joan Massagué, for their respective breakthrough discoveries that have led to the development of more powerful targeted therapies against cancer, progressed strategies aimed at reversing cancer resistance, advanced novel immune-based approaches, provided critical insights into tumor progression and metastatic spread, and the role of epigenetics in cancer.

In the company of over 250 invited guests, including family and close friends of the three recipients as well as leading figures in oncology from throughout the region and beyond, the special ceremony took place within the exquisite gothic surroundings of the Palau de la Generalitat. Consisting of €80.000 and the sculpture La clau i la lletra by Antoni Tàpies, the prize, now in its 28th annual edition, was presented by Carles Puigdemont, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia. Upon receiving the award, the three highly deserved recipients delivered their respective acceptance speeches — equally matched in elegance and flair.

Commenting on the inspiring talk given by José Baselga, Josep Tabernero, Director of VHIO and President Elect of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) observed, “José reviewed the tremendous progress made to-date in our collective quest to combat cancer, driven by the acceleration of cancer discovery, earlier detection of disease, development of more effective and targeted therapies, as well as the advent of novel approaches aimed at rendering cancer treatments more powerfully precise”.

“Drawing on the hugely complex nature of cancer, described as´the emperor of all maladies´*, he also signposted just where we still need to travel to ultimately improve outcomes for an increasing number of patients. One such direction, also voiced by Manel and Joan, centered on the critical need for continued investment in research coupled with the early backing and support of our students — the future of cancer science and oncology practice”, he concluded.

On behalf of all of us at VHIO, we take this opportunity to congratulate José Baselga, Manel Esteller and Joan Massagué for this prestigious recognition as well as their important, respective contributions to significantly advancing translational cancer research and personalized medicine in oncology across the globe.

*The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee


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