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Harold L. Moses, M.D., Recipient of the 2013 AACR Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Award

Harold L. Moses, M.D.

CRCHD grantee, Harold L. Moses, M.D., was honored with the 10th Annual Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) during their annual meeting held in Washington, DC, April 6-10. The award, established in 2004, is given to scientists who have made significant contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a collective body of work. The contributions must have had a lasting impact on the cancer field and must have shown a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer.

Moses is the founder and director emeritus of the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (VICC), Hortense B. Ingram professor of molecular oncology, and acting chair of cancer biology, medicine, and pathology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. For the past 20 years, he has also been the director of the Frances Williams Preston Laboratories at VICC, which houses 20 senior scientists conducting cancer research. In addition, Moses served as president of AACR from 1991-1992.

"Dr. Moses is a pioneer in the field of growth factors and tumor suppressors," said Margaret Foti, Ph.D., M.D., chief executive officer of the AACR. "His lifelong groundbreaking research accomplishments and extraordinary leadership in the field are testaments to his dedication and commitment to progress against cancer."

In Moses' laboratories, cancer researchers study molecular activity within cells that can lead to cancer. The focus has been on breast cancer, and many of their discoveries have influenced the work of other cancer scientists. One of Moses' groundbreaking accomplishments in the early 1980s was his finding that transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) was an inhibitor of normal cell growth. This revolutionized cancer cell research, much the same way as the discovery of tumor suppressor genes did in the field of oncogenesis. This finding unlocked a whole new investigative avenue, with scientists focusing on the disruption in balance between positive and negative growth regulators as an underlying cause of cancer.

Another seminal discovery from the Moses lab is that the loss of TGF-b signaling in certain stromal cells results in the development of cancer in the adjacent epithelial tissue.

Moses has also served as a mentor for numerous students and postdoctoral fellows who are now prominent scientists and thought leaders in cancer research.

His work with CRCHD, along with Samuel Adunyah, Ph.D., professor and chair of cancer biology at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, established the Meharry-Vanderbilt-Tennessee State University Cancer Partnership. A mutually beneficial arrangement for the three institutions, the partnership has fostered collaborative research examining disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes in African Americans living in the southeastern United States, improved education of those generally underrepresented in biomedical sciences, increased recruitment of new cancer research faculty, and enhanced the cancer research enterprise at institutions serving underrepresented and underserved populations.

One of the major research projects being conducted by this partnership is a multi-million dollar NCI R01grant involving 86,000 low-income participants recruited across 12 southeastern states, two-thirds of whom are black. The largest study of cancer risk in underserved populations, it has built a repository, which currently houses DNA from 90 percent of the cohort.

William Blot, Ph.D., a principal investigator with Moses at Vanderbilt and a former NCI scientist, called Moses "a staunch supporter of research to ameliorate disparities in cancer and a major impetus for this large cohort that began in 2001."

Moses has also been involved with another partnershipóbetween the University of Hawaii and the University of Guam, two minority-serving institutions. He has served as a long-term member of the Program Steering Committee and helped establish a tissue bank.

Internationally renowned, Moses has served in many leadership and advisory roles in the cancer research community, received numerous accolades, and authored hundreds of scientific papers.

Moses graduated from Berea College in Kentucky and then obtained his M.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency. He did his postdoctoral research training at the National Institutes of Health.

Updated: 01/10/14