Baylor College of Medicine

Medical Genetics Laboratory

Baylor researchers win AACR Team Science Award

Molly Chiu


Houston, TX -

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will recognize the founding members and the current project team of the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project with 2020 AACR Team Science Awards at the AACR Virtual Meeting on June 24. Baylor College of Medicine researchers Dr. Richard Gibbs, Dr. Matthew Ellis  Dr. Seth Lerner, Dr. Chad Creighton and Dr. David Wheeler are among the awardees.

Ellis, professor and director of the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center, McNair Scholar and recent Susan G. Komen Brinker Awardee at Baylor, is recognized for his work on the TCGA Breast Cancer Project team to functionalize the data generated by the project. He currently is also extending these analyses using mass spectrometry-based proteomics with the NCI’s Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium.

Gibbs, Wofford Cain Chair and professor of molecular and human genetics and director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC) at Baylor, and Wheeler, former professor of molecular and human genetics at the HGSC, are recognized for their work with the Genome Sequencing Centers team on the TCGA Pilot Project. Baylor researchers Donna Muzny, Dr. HarshaVardhan Doddapaneni, Walker Hale, Dr. Jianhong Hu, Viktoriya Korchina and Joy Jayaseelan also contributed to this project.

Lerner, professor of urology and the Beth and Dave Swalm Chair in Urologic Oncology at Baylor, is recognized for his role as co-chair of the Bladder Cancer Disease and Analysis Working Groups. Creighton, associate professor at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, is recognized for his work on 12 different TCGA projects. He served as the co-chair on the Kidney Chromophobe Analysis Working Group and the PI3K/Akt/mTOR Analysis Working Group.

Since its inception, TCGA has resulted in the molecular characterization of more than 20,000 primary cancers and matched normal samples spanning 33 cancer types. TCGA has enabled and driven the development of new technologies that have exponentially improved genetic sequencing capabilities and is the foremost initiative responsible for supporting the emergence and implementation of precision cancer medicine. In addition to these groundbreaking discoveries, TCGA has revolutionized cancer genomics research by establishing new standards and procedures for managing interdisciplinary teams of biological scientists, clinicians, computational scientists and pathologists.

“The TCGA program spanned more than six years and brought about a transformation in how cancer research was organized. There was tremendous clinical impact,” Gibbs said. “No other project in biology since the Human Genome Project was as grand or ambitious. Like the Human Genome Project, the success depended on the dedicated work of team leaders and members who each worked tirelessly to make it a success. Current innovations in cancer diagnosis and treatment are based on foundational work of the TCGA.”

The AACR Team Science Award recognizes an outstanding interdisciplinary team of researchers for their innovative and meritorious science that has advanced or may advance our fundamental knowledge of cancer, or a team that has applied existing knowledge to advancing the detection, diagnosis, prevention or treatment of cancer. Read more about this year’s awardees here.


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