Damon Runyon Blog

September 14, 2016

Yung S. Lie, PhD, Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation


Public support for basic scientific research is essential, as it can help insure that brilliant young people continue to enter the sciences and dedicate their careers to cancer research. It can also insure that there will always be another Bill Kaelin in the pipeline.


Bill is a trailblazing physician-scientist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a member of our Board of Directors, and a winner of the 2016 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for his work on the pathway by which cells sense and adapt to changes in oxygen levels. The Boston Globe lauded the significance of Bill’s contributions to science and observed that, “This work on oxygen sensing has led to the development of potential drugs for heart attack, stroke, and kidney cancer, as well as possible treatments for anemia and retinopathy of prematurity, a condition that can blind premature infants.”


Since 2006, Bill has committed many hours as a committee member and past Chair of the Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award. Last year, as part of a strategic program evaluation conducted with the Scientific Committee of the Board, Damon Runyon identified an issue of great concern: the dwindling pipeline of physician-scientists. The decline in this vital cadre of cancer researchers is occurring at a time when cancer research holds the greatest promise of improving survival and quality of life among cancer patients. To respond to this need, Damon Runyon developed a new program, the Damon Runyon Physician-Scientist Training Award, to support and encourage outstanding physicians to pursue cancer research careers by providing them with the opportunity for a protected research training experience under the mentorship of a highly qualified and gifted mentor. Bill played a critical role in the development of this program and serves as the inaugural Chair of this award’s selection committee. 


We congratulate Bill for earning the richly deserved Lasker Award this week, and for continuing to inspire scores of young scientists.