Program Milestones

Since the first Young Investigator Award (YIA) in 1984, the program has launched the research careers of more than a thousand researchers from across various countries. Growth in the grants and awards program over the last three decades represents a response to the needs of patients for ongoing and credible cancer research. The value of the pogram to cancer research is manifested in many ways: by the benefits to the grant recipients, who are supported in their careers at critical periods in their development as oncology leaders; by vital and needed advances in cancer research; and by the help provided to patients and their families through the innovative treatments and enriched supportive care that come as a result of funded research.


For the first time in its history, Conquer Cancer awarded the highest number of Young Investigator Awards at 69 including nine Endowed YIAs. ASCO endowed two more YIAs named after its founders: Fred J. Ansfield, MD, and Harry F. Bisel, MD.


ASCO’s endowed its first Young Investigator Award named after ASCO founder Jane C. Wright, illustrating its continued commitment to investing in the future of cancer research.

Conquer Cancer awarded a total of six Endowed YIAs including the newly established Åke Bertil Eriksson Endowed Young Investigator Award. Conquer Cancer also announced the Anna Braglia Endowed Young Investigator Award in Cancer Supportive Care which will be first awarded in 2017.

The CDA marks its 25th year of successfully launching the careers of oncology leaders with more than $44M in research funding through 242 grants.

Conquer Cancer awarded the inaugural Allen S. Lichter, MD Endowed Merit Award which was established to recognize Dr. Lichter’s leadership and his meritorious contributions to advancing cancer research, education, quality of care, and global oncology. 


A record number of 58 YIAs for a total of $2.9 Million were granted to launch the careers of new researchers and bring us closer to important breakthroughs.

Ten Career Development Awards were awarded for a total of $2 Million.


 The inaugural International Innovation Grants were awarded to pioneering projects designed to:
• Further community health education in Nigeria
• Advance tobacco prevention in Tanzania
• Forward telehealth education in Colombia
• Expand cervical cancer prevention in Myanmar


The Grants and Awards program marked its 30th year of advancing cancer research.

Three endowed Young Investigator Awards in memory of John R. Durant, MD, Evelyn H. Lauder, and Sally Gordon were first presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting. Endowed YIAs will ensure Conquer Cancer’s continued excellence in supporting cancer research and fostering the careers of oncology.


The James B. Nachman ASCO Junior Faculty Award in Pediatric Oncology, an endowed merit award, was established in memory of James B. Nachman, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Chicago in remembrance and celebration of his incredible legacy as an internationally renowned pediatric cancer expert.


The Foundation changed its name from The ASCO Cancer Foundation to Conquer Cancer Foundation of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.


In its inaugural year, the Long-term International Fellowship was awarded to Cesar Sánchez, MD, of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Cancer Center, Santiago, Chile. Dr. Sánchez conducted his LIFe research at Washington University.   As a breast cancer specialist, Dr. Sánchez was involved with the Breast Cancer Research Program at Washington University, where he gained experience with all aspects of clinical and translational research.

The Foundation awarded two Improving Cancer Care Grants, funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, which provide research funding to address important issues regarding health care access, quality of care, and delivery of care, with general applicability to breast cancer. 

The inaugural Comparative Effectiveness Research Professorship in Breast Cancer, a five-year, $500,000 grant, was presented to Patricia A. Ganz, MD to support her work examined how well survivorship program interventions are in line with ASCO’s recommendations for breast cancer surveillance. 

Landmark Palliative Care Study:  Jennifer S. Temel, MD, (2005 CDA recipient)  and her research team published their results in the New England Journal of Medicine and changed the way oncologists think about palliative care. The study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that patients with non-small cell lung cancer who began receiving palliative care immediately upon diagnosis were not only happier and in less pain, they also lived nearly three months longer.


The Loan Repayment Program (LRP), Resident Travel Award (RTA) for Underrepresented Populations, and Medical Student Rotation (MSR) for Underrepresented Populations) which are all under the Diversity In Oncology (DOI) were first awarded to a total of 20 recipients to facilitate the recruitment and retention of individuals who are underrepresented in medicine to cancer careers, with particular attention to the development of clinical practitioners and investigators.


Two Translational Research Professorships (TRP) were first awarded in the amount of $500,000 each to support established faculty who continue to make contributions in the area of translational research and who provide mentorship to future researchers. 


The Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Award and Gianni Bonadonna Breast Cancer Research Fellowship were established through the generous support of GlaxoSmithKline Oncology to honor the contributions of Dr. Gianni Bonadonna. 

Also in 2007, the amounts of the YIA and CDA were increased to $50,000 for a one-year period and $200,000 for a three-year period, respectively.


The first Advanced Clinical Research Award  (ACRA) in the amount of $450,000 was awarded to Vered Stearns, MD for her research project "Clinical Investigation of the Histone Deacetylase (HDAC) Inhibitor Suberoylanilide Hydroxamid Acid (SAHA), Single Agent or in Combination, in Women with Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer."  The ACRA was established  to provide fundingbeyond the CDA. By continuing to support proven clinical researchers who are post-CDA but at a critical stage in their early careers, the ACRA expands the cadre of expert clinical oncology researchers who are developing promising research initiatives. 

“If you’ve got the right individual and the right environment, with a good mentor…that person is going to achieve his or her goals.”
Vered Stearns, MD, 2004 ACRA recipient


Total number of submitted YIA and CDA grant applications was the most in the program’s 16-year history, with 39 CDA and 95 YIA applications. A press release from that year stated that The ASCO Cancer Foundation Grants Program “…selects the leading young clinical oncologists from across the United States. The program is one of the largest among professional medical societies; the total contribution for the 2000 program represents the largest in the program's history.” 


ASCO established The ASCO Cancer Foundation in 1999 to help realize the best opportunities for cancer prevention, treatment, and care world wide. The ASCO Cancer Foundation since that time has led the continued successful support of the Grants Program as well as responded to the need to develop more funding resources to further help young and established oncologists.


ASCO recognized both the success and the limitations of the YIA program. Support was also needed for more mature investigators who had recently received their initial faculty appointment to a clinical cancer research program. This recognition of need led to the creation of the three-year Career Development Award (CDA). 

In 1991, the CDA was announced and grant applications were received for consideration for the 1992-1995 time period. The first four CDA grant recipients were announced at the 1992 Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. Each recipient received $150,00 in research funding.


Throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s, the YIA program continued to grow in number of applications received and number of awards funded. In 1990, the number of YIA grant applications received soared to over 50, with a final selection of 11 recipients.That year the YIA program surpasses $1 million in cumulative research funding.


Eight recipients received a YIA including Dr. Nancy Davidson. Twenty-one years later, Dr. Davidson began her term as President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. 

“The YIA grant was an important investment in me as an investigator.”
 Nancy Davidson, MD, 1986 YIA recipient
 ASCO President 2007-2008


The ASCO Board of Directors expanded the number of potential YIA grants in 1985 and increased the amount of each award to $25,000. At the ASCO Annual Meeting that year, six YIA recipients were announced and honored. 



A four-member Scholarship Awards Committee, an early version of today’s Grants Selection Committee, met in February 1984 and selected the single YIA grant recipient. “Dr. Judith Salmon Kaur holds the distinct honor of being the first to receive the ASCO award,” stated Philip S. Schein, MD, ASCO President 1983-1984. Dr. Kaur has enjoyed a successful career in academic oncology, with her research interests directed at improving the survival rates for American Indians with cancer. 


In 1983, Dr. Saul Rosenberg, ASCO President 1982-1983, announced the impending availability in the following year of a new one-year grant to be competitively awarded to a young investigator in oncology who was within one year of fellowship training. “This award, to be designated and administered solely by ASCO, will provide one fellowship of $16,000 for one year and is not renewable. The objective of the award is to provide seed grant funds for young investigators for research in oncology” (ASCO News, Sept 1983).