COLUMBUS, Ohio – Elaine Fuchs, PhD, is the recipient of the 24th annual Herbert and Maxine Block Memorial Lectureship Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cancer.
The Block Lectureship was established by the Block family of Columbus to honor the memory of their parents, Maxine and Herbert J. Block, who both died of cancer. It is given annually to a renowned cancer researcher who is invited to The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) to accept the award and deliver the annual Block Lecture to an audience of approximately 300 scientists and donors. Fuchs will be in Columbus to accept this honor Nov. 4-5, 2019.
Considered a pioneer in the study of biology and molecular mechanisms of skin and skin disease, Fuchs is known for identifying molecular mechanisms underlying skin disease, developing the field of skin stem cells and pioneering the concept of “reverse genetics.” This approach involves elucidating the genetic basis of human diseases by examining how mutant proteins alter tissue functions in mice. Her most recent work focuses on similarities and differences between normal stem cells and tumor-causing “cancer stem cells.”
Fuchs’ research has shown how these cancer cells hijack the basic mechanisms that normal stem cells use to heal wounds and how the cancer stem cells develop resistance to chemo- and immuno-therapies that eventually result in cancer relapse. Her goal is to bridge her knowledge with clinicians to ferret out resistant cancer cells in patients.
Fuchs received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1972 and her doctoral degree in biochemistry from Princeton University in 1977, then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She holds honorary doctorates in science from New York University, University of Illinois, Albany Medical College and Harvard University.
Fuchs currently serves as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and as the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor of Mammalian Cell Biology and Development at the Rockefeller University in New York City. Her lab focuses on understanding skin stem cells and the overall process of tissue dynamics in normal skin development, homeostasis and wound repair. This work builds a foundation for understanding how these processes go awry in aging as well as in genetic skin diseases.
“Dr. Fuchs has discovered numerous communication networks between stem cells and other tissue cells, including immune cells. Her research is especially relevant in chronic inflammatory syndromes as well as squamous cell carcinomas, and we are pleased to recognize her significant contributions to cancer research with the Block Memorial Lectureship Award,” says Raphael Pollock, MD, PhD, director of the OSUCCC.
Fuchs is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, American Philosophical Society and European Molecular Biology Organization (foreign member). In 2018, she was appointed to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and in 2019 to the Royal Society (foreign member). She is also a fellow of the AACR Academy.
A monetary award of $50,000 is associated with the Block Memorial Lectureship, making it one of the largest prizes awarded by an academic institution in the field of cancer. The Block Memorial Lectureship is funded by proceeds from the annual Herbert J. Block Memorial Tournament, a golf outing established in 1982 by the Block family to honor their father.
Since its inception, the Block Memorial Tournament has raised more than $6 million for programs at the OSUCCC – James.
Amanda J. Harper
OSUCCC – James Media Relations