European Society for Medical Oncology Congress
European Society for Medical Oncology Congress
October 01, 2019
2 min read

ESMO presents awards to four clinicians

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Eric Van Cutsem, MD, PhD
Eric Van Cutsem

BARCELONA, Spain — The European Society for Medical Oncology presented awards to four clinicians and scientists during its annual congress, held Sept. 27-Oct. 1 in Barcelona, Spain.

Eric Van Cutsem, MD, PhD, professor of internal medicine at University of Leuven and head of the digestive oncology unit at University Hospital Gasthuisberg in Belgium, received this year’s ESMO Award. The award recognizes Van Cutsem’s role as a pioneer in gastrointestinal oncology.

“The award is an important stimulus to persevere in our efforts to understand gastrointestinal cancers more profoundly,” Van Cutsem said in an ESMO-issued press release. “The most rewarding measure of our success is seeing that we can improve outcomes for patients. If you look at the number of big projects currently ongoing in fundamental and translational research, there are many biomarkers and molecular targets that I hope we will be able to make actionable to generate innovative treatment options in the future.”

Angelo Di Leo, MD, PhD, head of Sandro Pitigliani Medical Oncology Unit and chair of the oncology department at Hospital of Prato, Istituto Toscano Tumori in Italy, received the ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes his contributions to cancer research and education, including his role in the development of personalized treatment approaches for patients with breast cancer.

“It is a huge pleasure for me to receive such a prestigious award from what is now a global society,” Di Leo said in the release. “I believe I have had two big achievements in my career: one has been to create this place in Prato, starting from nothing, where people now come to be cured of such a critical disease as cancer, with a lot of confidence in our program. The other is that I have had the opportunity to work with and develop a team of young, extremely skilled oncologists and researchers. I am proud to say that the program will successfully continue without me one day.”

Christiana Sessa, MD, scientific clinical consultant with the clinical trials unit at Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale and consultant in gynecological cancer at Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, received the ESMO Women in Oncology Award. The award will recognize her contributions to supporting the development of women in oncology and her role in sensitizing organizations to supporting the career development of women in oncology.

“I appreciate this award very much, because it comes from people whom I admire and trust. Being recognized by your peers is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have,” Sessa said in the release. “We need to keep spreading the message that female oncologists should have the chance to be visible, and to be represented on scientific committees. We must make today’s leaders understand that it’s time to promote young women. Women, in turn, should be ready and well-prepared to take on those responsibilities, so we need to provide them with the right education.”


Charles Swanton, MD, PhD, Royal Society Napier professor and chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, received the ESMO Translational Research Award. The award honors Swanton’s achievements in translational research.

“Our research is contributing to clinical trials of new treatment possibilities like T-cell therapies targeting clonal neoantigens,” Swanton said in the release. “We are particularly excited about the role of circulating tumor DNA in the detection of minimal residual disease following surgery, to allow treatment escalation in the adjuvant setting within new clinical trial designs.”