Prestigious international award to Prof. Franco Cavalli

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) will present the prestigious "Award for Lifetime Achievement" to Prof. Franco Cavalli during the opening ceremony of their annual meeting on Sunday, 7 April 2024. The ceremony will take place at the Convention Center in San Diego, California. "The scientific community in Ticino should be proud of Prof. Franco Cavalli for receiving such a prestigious honour. Few individuals in Switzerland have been recognised for their scientific achievements at this level," stresses the Dean of USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, Prof. Giovanni Pedrazzini.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is the most prominent organisation for cancer research, with over 60,000 members. Their annual meeting, which has 20-30,000 attendees, is considered the most important scientific event for cancer researchers.

This year, the AACR decided to honour Prof. Franco Cavalli, currently President of the Foundation for the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR) and of the Bellinzona Institutes of Sciences (BIOS+) Association, with the "Award for Lifetime Achievement". This award will be presented to him during the official opening ceremony of the annual meeting, which will take place at the Convention Center in San Diego on the morning of 7 April this year. During the ceremony, Prof. Cavalli will be given a few minutes to accept the award and express his gratitude to those who bestowed it upon him.

During one of the afternoon sessions, the distinguished oncologist has been asked to give a 45-minute keynote lecture. In this lecture, he will summarise the achievements of his professional life and his research in oncology. Additionally, he will outline his vision for shaping the future of cancer research. He will also address how the international scientific and political community should tackle the challenge of cancer on a global level. This is especially important since, in a few years, cancer is expected to overtake cardiovascular diseases as the leading cause of death worldwide. 

The AACR has recently published an extensive press release about the recognition awarded to Prof. Cavalli. The Association has summarised his scientific achievements, which range from clinical studies demonstrating the effectiveness of innovative new cancer drugs to his multifaceted research in malignant lymphomas. The latter led to the development of the "Lugano classification," which is now used worldwide to assess the objective condition of such patients.

The release, of course, mentions the International Conference on Malignant Lymphomas in Lugano, which he organised for the first time in 1981 and is now recognised in the field as a global leading event. The statement also highlights the founding of the International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group (IELSG), the only cooperative clinical study group globally that focuses on extranodal lymphomas, which make up almost half of all cases of this disease. The IELSG coordinates more than 300 institutions across five continents and has redefined standard therapy in most of these lymphomas during its 25 years of existence. The AACR statement then goes on to highlight the creation, practically from scratch, of both IOSI (Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland), which is also recognised in the United States as a so-called Comprehensive Cancer Centre, and the IOR (Institute of Oncology Research in Bellinzona, now affiliated to USI). 

It is also worth mentioning Cavalli's collaboration with the European School of Oncology (ESO) to create the WOF (World Oncology Forum) in 2012. The forum meets regularly in Ticino or Milan to analyse the global fight against cancer. The last meeting took place in Monte Verità in Ascona in September. The WOF has provided recommendations on urgent measures that the international community should take to combat the spread of cancer, particularly in developing nations. These recommendations have been widely adopted by organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

The AACR also mentions the more than 600 scientific articles published by Cavalli, the four textbooks he has written, and the 20 national and international prizes and awards he has received to date, including, in particular, the lifetime achievement awards granted by the European Society of Medical Oncology and the Chinese American Hematologist and Oncologist Network, as well as the three Honorary Professorships he has been awarded in China and Central America.

In conclusion, he is given special recognition for his medical and humanitarian initiatives, particularly in Central America, where he established AMCA (Association for Medical Aid to Central America). His initiatives in paediatric oncology have been recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has launched a worldwide campaign based on his model to combat the escalating issue of paediatric cancer.