2018 Medal of Honor Award Winners

Five outstanding individuals have been honored with the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor Award. The Medal of Honor is awarded to those who have made the most valuable contributions and impact in saving more lives from cancer through basic research, clinical research, and cancer control.

The 2018 recipients are The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr, for Cancer Control;  Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD, for Basic Research; Jennifer Doudna, PhD, for Basic Research; Charis Eng, MD, PhD, for Clinical Research; and Michael J. Thun, MD, MS, for Cancer Control Science. 

Our Medal of Honor recipients truly embody what the American Cancer Society is all about. Each of these individuals have significantly contributed to the advancement and impact of our collective efforts to save more lives from cancer.

Gary Reedy - Chief Executive Officer, American Cancer Society

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr, was awarded the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor for Cancer Control for his advocacy and leadership in the development of the Cancer Moonshot to accelerate research to make more therapies available to more patients, while also improving our ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage.

Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier was presented with the Medal of Honor for Basic Research for her role in deciphering the molecular of the bacterial CRISPR-Cas 9 immune system and repurposing it into a tool in genome editing.

Dr. Jennifer Doudna received the Medal of Honor for Basic Research for her significant contributions to cancer research by uncovering the basic structure and function of the first ribozyme and then pioneering the CRISPR-Cas 9 to edit genes on an unprecedented scale.

Dr. Charis Eng received the Medal of Honor for Clinical Research for her leadership in personalized care, translating genomic and cellular analysis to clinical practice. Her study of tumor suppressor genes has contributed to the understanding of hereditary predisposition and treatment for several types of cancer.  

Dr. Michael J. Thun was awarded the Medal of Honor for Cancer Control Science for his significant contributions in cancer epidemiology and prevention research, which have shaped public health policies. His studies on the evolving impact of smoking on cancer and other diseases have informed tobacco control efforts worldwide.

Past recipients of the Society’s Medal of Honor include former U.S. President and First Lady George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush; Edward M. Kennedy, senator from Massachusetts; George N. Papanicolau, M.D., inventor of the Pap test; Robert C. Gallo, M.D., recognized for his achievements in pioneering the field of human retrovirology; Judah Folkman, M.D., a leading researcher in the field of antiangiogenesis; Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D.; and advice columnists Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren.