Cavenee, director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego, won the prize for his groundbreaking discoveries regarding the genetic mechanisms of predisposition to human cancer. Cavenee's research provided the first genetic evidence for the existence of tumour suppressor genes, one of the most influential breakthroughs in cancer research.

"Dr. Cavenee is a pioneer in the truest sense of the word. His research on tumour suppressor genes has not only advanced our understanding of cancer, but it also has provided valuable insight in the role that hereditary predisposition plays into developing cancer," said Dr. Harold Dvorak of the selection committee.

Cavenee's original research seeking to define the genetic lesions in retinoblastoma led to the first hard experimental evidence for the existence of tumour suppressor genes in humans. This breakthrough confirmed the "two-hit hypothesis," fundamentally altering the way scientists think about the onset of cancer and its progression. Today, mutations of tumour suppressor genes have been identified in more than half of all tumours, including those of muscle, melanocytes, kidney, prostate, and breast. Novel gene therapies to reverse gene mutations or their effects in cancer cells hold promise as cancer treatment strategies which could be of benefit to cancer patients.

"The Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research means a great deal to the cancer research field and I am humbled to have been selected by my peers to receive it. It is my hope that the discoveries I am being recognized for will have significant long-term impact on those patients who suffer from cancer around the world. That is the real prize," said Cavenee.; Source: National Foundation for Cancer Research