To further enhance the Basser Center's mission, the Basser Global Prize was established by Shari Basser Potter and Leonard Potter to honor a visionary scientist who has conceptually advanced BRCA1/2-related research that has led to improvements in clinical care. The prize will be considered for a broad range of basic, translational and clinical BRCA1/2 cancer researchers worldwide. Outstanding candidates will be those whose research has produced seminal advances in the field and who continue to drive BRCA1/2-related research towards the ultimate goal of mitigating the adverse impact of deleteriousBRCA1/2 and related mutations.
The Basser Global Prize provides $100,000 in unrestricted support of the awardee's innovative BRCA1/2 related research efforts. The Awardee will give the Keynote address at the annual Basser Center for BRCA Symposium the following year, at which time they will be awarded the Basser trophy and a personal $10,000 cash prize by the Gray and Potter Families.
2018 Global Prize Winner — Dr. Maria Jasin
Maria Jasin, PhD, has been announced as the recipient of the sixth annual Basser Global Prize. Jasin is a member of the Developmental Biology Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a professor at the Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences at Cornell University. Jasin’s research has helped define the roles of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in DNA repair. Her discoveries have led to numerous investigative efforts worldwide, resulting in a greater understanding of how cancer develops and in new therapies that can lengthen the lives of cancer patients.
“We are honored to recognize Dr. Jasin for her accomplishments, which have been transformational in our understanding of how cancer is suppressed by genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2,” said Susan Domchek, MD, Executive Director of the Basser Center. “Her work has resulted in insights into the mechanisms by which BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations lead to cancer. This knowledge has been essential in considering how to target tumors with BRCA1/2 mutations.”
The award presentation will be accompanied by Jasin’s keynote address at the seventh annual Basser Center for BRCA Scientific Symposium on May 7, 2019. “It is very humbling to be chosen for this honor by the Basser Center, which in a short time has become world-renowned for its efforts to help patients with inherited BRCA1/2 mutations,” Jasin said. “The Basser Global Prize will be integral in making the best use of the molecular genetic systems we have developed for understanding the role of homologous recombination in protecting the genome. Our aim is to contribute to a better understanding of BRCA-related cancers and potentially achieve their reversal through treatments and genetic correction.”
Read more in the press release.
The Basser Global Prize Application Process
Applications for the Basser Global Prize are now closed, but will reopen in 2019.
Previous Global Prize Winners
The winner of the 2017 Basser Global Prize is Ashok Venkitaraman, MBBS, PhD, the Ursula Zoellner Professor of Cancer Research and director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cancer Unit at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Venkitaraman’s laboratory discovered that BRCA2 plays a critical role in repairing the human genome, and has been instrumental in showing how mutations in BRCA2 incite genome instability, accelerating cancer development. This work has provided the scientific basis for assessing cancer risk in people who carry different BRCA2 mutations, and for new treatments for cancers arising in these patients.
Dr. Venkitaraman’s current research focuses on deeper understanding of how cancer is initiated in patients with BRCA2 mutations, in an effort to identify new opportunities for early, non-invasive intervention. His laboratory recently uncovered how certain chemicals found in the environment or made in the body can trigger genome instability in cells carrying mutant BRCA2. His team is now exploiting this discovery to devise future approaches for cancer prevention and treatment. “It is an honor to be recognized in this way by the Basser Center, which is at the forefront of efforts to improve the outcome of patients who bear BRCA1/2 mutations,” Venkitaraman said. “The Basser Global Prize will greatly enhance my laboratory’s ability to pursue promising new research avenues.” Read more about the award announcement here.
The winner of the 2016 Basser Global Prize is cancer geneticist Steven Narod, MD, FRCPC, PhD (hon), FRSC, director of the Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit and a senior scientist at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Narod is a world leader in the field of breast and ovarian cancer genetics, who has made significant contributions to the knowledge of how to assess cancer risk and reduce its mortality in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.
The winner of the 2015 Basser Global Prize is Dr. David Livingston, the Emil Frei Professor of Genetics and Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chair of the Executive Committee for Research at Harvard’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Livingston has greatly expanded current understanding of how mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can promote cancer development. His goal is to reduce the number of cells in the breast and ovary of BRCA1 mutation-bearing women that manifest a high potential for becoming malignant. “Our objective is to eliminate them by a relatively non-toxic approach and to ensure that they do not accumulate thereafter,” Livingston explains. “If successful, such an approach has the potential to significantly reduce the likelihood of BRCA1 cancer developing in mutation-bearing women.”
2014 Global Prize Winner — Dr. Mary-Claire King
The winner of the 2014 Basser Global Prize was Dr. Mary-Claire King, from the University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. King is known worldwide for her major accomplishments in human genetics research and one of her most noteworthy achievements is the identification of the BRCA1 gene. 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the identification of the gene. “We’re very excited to honor Dr. King’s accomplishments in BRCA-related research, particularly as this year marks twenty years since the initial cloning of the BRCA1 gene,” said Dr. Susan Domchek, MD. “The identification ofBRCA1 was the first critical step in work to improve outcomes for individuals with inherited susceptibility to breast cancer. Supporting research projects that are similarly devoted to the prevention and treatment of BRCA-related cancers is a primary mission of the Basser Center.”
2013 Global Prize Winner — Dr. Alan Ashworth
The winner of the inaugural Basser Global Prize in 2013 was Professor Alan Ashworth, FRS, Chief Executive Office of the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) in London and head of the Gene Function team in the ICR’s Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre. Professor Ashworth has been a pioneer in efforts to develop therapies to target cancer cells that contain BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. His lab has been instrumental in the development of PARP inhibitor therapy, drugs which have shown great promise in attacking breast, ovarian, and other cancers among individuals who carry BRCA1/2 mutations. His new research explores mechanisms of drug resistance among BRCA carriers, and the possibility of combing other agents with PARP inhibitors to maximize their effectiveness and discover new methods of treatment.