MAY 10, 2023, NEW YORK – Ludwig Cancer Research congratulates Douglas Hanahan, Ludwig Distinguished Scholar at the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, on his election as Foreign Member of the Royal Society. Founded in 1660, the Royal Society is a storied fellowship of eminent scientists, engineers and technologists in the UK and the Commonwealth whose mission is to “recognize, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.” It counts among its Fellows and Foreign Members some 85 Nobel Laureates.
In honoring Hanahan, the Royal Society recognizes a body of work that has profoundly influenced cancer research and new approaches to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
While still a young scientist at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York in the 1980s, Hanahan created one of the first mouse models engineered to develop cancers in specific organs, reporting his landmark accomplishment in a single-author publication in Nature. He has since used his models to examine the stages of cancer progression, the role cancer genes play in that process and the immune system’s interplay with the growing tumor. In collaboration with the late Judah Folkman, for example, Hanahan identified in these mouse models an “angiogenic switch”—which triggers the induction of blood vessel growth essential to tumorigenesis—and explored the pharmacological disruption of angiogenesis as a means of cancer therapy.
Hanahan is also noted for his authorship, with Ludwig MIT Co-director Robert Weinberg, of The Hallmarks of Cancer, a landmark perspective on cancer biology published in Cell in 2000, as well as an update the pair published in the same journal in 2011. The essays, which established an unprecedented conceptual framework for understanding the cellular and molecular underpinnings of cancer, remain among the most influential publications in modern cancer biology. Hanahan has continued developing the themes of those publications, most recently suggesting new potential hallmarks in a Cancer Discovery publication in 2022. His lab likewise continues to unravel the drivers and stages of cancer progression and the tumor microenvironment’s influence on drug resistance, with a focus on its role in thwarting immune clearance.
Hanahan is the third scientist affiliated with the Ludwig Institute to be elected to the Royal Society, the other two being Ludwig Oxford Director Xin Lu and her colleague Sir Peter Ratcliffe, one of the recipients of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
In addition to his Ludwig Distinguished Scholar appointment, Hanahan is an Emeritus Professor in the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research within the School of Life Sciences at EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne.