On Friday, Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (hc), chief executive officer of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), was honored with the 2018 European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Women for Oncology Award for her role in supporting the career development of women in oncology.
Foti received the award during the Opening Session of the ESMO 2018 Congress in Munich, Germany. After the recognition, she presented a lecture titled “The Professional Advancement of Women in Oncology: A Matter of Great Urgency for Patients.”
“It is very rewarding for me to be recognized with this wonderful award, as I have strived throughout my career to serve as a mentor to women in the cancer field,” said Foti.
“Foti has clearly invested in female oncologists and researchers by fostering their careers and ensuring that they do have similar opportunities to their male counterparts,” said Evandro de Azambuja, MD, PhD, chair of the ESMO Fellowship and Award Committee, on behalf of the committee. “She also has been an inspiration to many young oncologists.”
In her lecture, Foti told conference attendees that the professional success of women in oncology is essential if we are to continue making rapid progress against cancer.
“The contributions of women have been pivotal to advances in cancer research, patient care, and public health,” Foti said. “Heterogeneous research teams that include individuals of diverse backgrounds, nationality, and gender produce higher quality science, are more innovative, and result in better outcomes.”
Foti’s recognition with the Women for Oncology Award reflects her efforts to cultivate female researchers and leaders, both in the broader cancer community and within the AACR. The members of the AACR have elected 14 women to its presidency, including current President Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, and President-elect, Elaine R. Mardis, PhD.
Female representation in the AACR’s membership ranks has also increased dramatically. Today, 40 percent of the AACR’s members are women, compared with 17 percent in 1990. In addition, in 2018, women hold 45 percent of the leadership positions in the AACR, including positions on the Board of Directors and on important standing committees and task forces.
Foti co-founded Women in Cancer Research (WICR), an AACR membership group committed to recognizing women’s scientific achievements and fostering their career development and advancement in cancer research. She currently sits on the WICR Council, an advisory body to the AACR leadership on issues of concern to female investigators.
Foti concluded her lecture by noting that professional organizations, including the AACR and ESMO, bear responsibility for cultivating the female oncology workforce. Going forward, she said, these organizations must increase opportunities such as mentorship, continuing education, and research support.
“The future successes of women in oncology will be ensured provided there is a real commitment to change and the realization that women in oncology will leave an indelible mark on the field and change the lives of
patients and their loved ones,” Foti said. “Together we will be victorious in achieving our dream of gender equality toward our shared goal of finding more cures for cancer.”
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