The American Cancer Society Research Professor and Clinical Research Professor Awards are the most prestigious research grants made by the national program. These grants provide flexible funding for full-time investigators in mid-career who have made seminal contributions to cancer research and who will continue to provide leadership in their research area. The awards, which are for a period of five years with the possibility of one five-year renewal, are made through a highly competitive peer-review process. Ordinarily, no more than two candidates in each category are appointed in any year. Only 25 Research Professors and 15 Clinical Research Professors are funded at any time. See current Research and Clinical Research Professors

Stephen J. Meltzer, MD, of Johns Hopkins University is the most recent to be awarded a prestigious American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professorship. Dr Meltzer is researching molecular biomarkers that can not only detect Barrett’s esophagus but can also determine in which people the condition is likely to progress to esophageal cancer. The current test for Barrett’s esophagus, a precancerous condition, is gastrointestinal endoscopy, an invasive procedure too expensive for general screening. Detecting the disorder can facilitate early detection of esophageal cancer, which is most often detected in advanced stages. His award is effective July 1, 2013.

New Research Professor Awards were granted to the two following individuals effective January 1, 2013: David Largaespada, PhD of University of Minnesota - Twin Cities and Yang Shi, PhD of Children's Hospital Boston.

American Cancer Society Professorships

On occasion, special donors or Society Divisions provide generous gifts to fund cancer research combating a particular type of cancer or its consequences. Upon receipt of such gifts, the Extramural Grants department releases a nationwide request for applications (RFA) to qualified candidates. The top candidate is identified using the Society’s stringent peer-review process and is awarded an American Cancer Society Professorship. These professorships often are named in honor of the donor or in memory of a loved one.

Melanoma is a serious and sometimes life-threatening cancer that accounts for almost 4% of cancer among men and women. The chance of getting melanoma increases with age, but people of any age can get the disease. In fact, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults, with more than 50,000 people in the United States learning each year that they have melanoma. The Mary Hendrickson-Johnson Melanoma Professorship is an award targeting an outstanding, mid-career investigator who has made a landmark contribution that has changed the direction of cancer research and who continues to provide leadership in the area of melanoma research. The amount of the award is $80,000 per year for five years and may be renewed for an additional five years. In FY 2009, the professorship was awarded to Jeffrey A. Sosman, MD, of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Sosman directs the Melanoma Program at the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, which is a highly integrated effort among oncology, dermatology, surgical oncology, and radiation oncology. This program provides patients with a thorough multi-disciplinary evaluation of their disease and cutting-edge treatment options. Sosman's research includes studying skin cancers that are likely to recur and have no standard prevention treatment. He also compares chemotherapy and immunotherapy agents to determine their effects on treating skin cancers. One of his goals is to increase patient treatment options for skin cancer by studying new and investigational agents, such as vaccines.