Medal of Honor Awards

The Medal of Honor, which is the American Cancer Society’s highest award, is presented to individuals who have made outstanding and valuable contributions in the categories of Cancer Control, Clinical Research, Basic Research, and Philanthropy.

Nominees for the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor awards may be scientists, physicians, public servants, or philanthropists who have made advances of unique magnitude in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of cancer and whose professional careers have engendered widespread feelings of admiration and respect. 

See the 2016 Winners of the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor – Basic Research

Scientist who has made a significant fundamental research contribution with lasting impact on the cancer field or important discoveries or inventions within the field

Medal of Honor – Clinical Research

Investigator whose contribution(s) have significantly improved the clinical outcome of patients

Medal of Honor – Cancer Control

Individuals who have conducted research in and/or created and/or greatly advanced public heath, public communication, or public policy that has had a major impact and/or stimulated new directions in cancer control

Medal of Honor – Philanthropy

  • The Medal of Honor Philanthropy will be given for significant lifetime giving to the Society and/or to cancer. Donations can be from individuals or from family foundations. Giving can be one-time or over the years, but must include a proven track record of giving to the Society.
  • Threshold amount of giving is $10 million 
  • The award will be given annually, if merited. More than one award can be bestowed if deemed appropriate.

Award recipients will receive special recognition at the Medal of Honor Awards ceremony. 

Nomination Process

The Medal of Honor program is managed by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer Team and nominees are selected by the Medal of Honor Selection Workgroup. The Workgroup carefully reviews each nominee’s application against the specified requirements and sends to the American Cancer Society Board of Directors.

Nomination Requirements

The contribution of the nominee may be:  

  • A single original achievement
  • A demonstrated record of consistent excellence that has impacted a large number of people
  • A cumulative lifetime body of work addressing a distinct problem 
  • Exemplary or ongoing services that have directly and tangibly advanced the best interest and mission in the field
  • A significant lifetime giving to the Society and/or to cancer

The accomplishments of the recipients will have:

  • Changed the direction of fundamental science, translational or applied science, or cancer management (prevention, early detection, treatment, symptom management, or rehabilitation).
  • Facilitated new insights or applications that led to the significant reduction in cancer incidence, morbidity, or mortality.
  • Changed the direction of cancer research or treatment, through their successors, in multiple areas of investigation and application.
  • Had a significant financial impact to the Society mission.

All nominees must:

  • Be alive at the time of nomination.
  • Be present at the ceremony to receive the award.

Contact person: Kathryn O'Toole at kathryn.o'toole@cancer.org