Press Releases

American Cancer Society Awards Medal of Honor for Extraordinary Contributions to the Fight Against Cancer on Its 100th Birthday
May 22, 2013
Three Individuals Earn the Society’s Highest Honor

ATLANTA— May 22,  2013— Today the American Cancer Society, the nation’s largest voluntary health organization, officially celebrates its 100th birthday, and remains relentless in its efforts to finish the fight against cancer. The Society also recognizes exceptional contributions to the fight for a world with less cancer and more birthdays, and has conferred its Medal of Honor to two exceptional cancer researchers and one outstanding physician.  The Medal of Honor is the highest award given by the Society, and is presented to those who have made the most outstanding and valuable contributions in basic research, clinical research, cancer control, and philanthropy. This year’s honorees received their awards at a ceremony today during the American Cancer Society’s Volunteer and Staff Summit in Atlanta. They are: Isaiah J. Fidler, D.V.M., Ph.D., for Basic Research; Kathleen M. Foley, M.D., for Clinical Research; and Barbara K. Rimer, Dr.P.H., M.P.H., for Cancer Control. 

Dr. Isaiah J. Fidler was awarded the American Cancer Society Medal of Honor for Basic Research for his contributions to the study of the biology and therapy of cancer metastasis.  His research has revealed fundamental aspects of metastatic cancer cells and processes, including the importance of a welcoming microenvironment that allows metastatic cells to settle and thrive in specific organs, reviving the seed-and-soil hypothesis of metastasis.  Most recently, Dr. Fidler’s research has focused on the development and progression of brain metastasis.  

Dr. Fidler is currently the director of the Metastasis Research Laboratory in the Department of Cancer Biology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is also the R. E. “Bob” Smith distinguished chair in cell biology, and he has been a professor in the department of cancer biology at MD Anderson since 1983, serving as the department’s founding chair from 1983 to 2008. Dr. Fidler was also associated with the department of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania, and was with the cancer metastasis and treatment laboratory at the NCI-Fredrick Cancer Research Facility from 1975- 1983. He is a past president of the American Association for Cancer Research, an inaugural fellow of the AACR Academy and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Kathleen M. Foley received the Medal of Honor for Clinical Research in recognition of her efforts to advance palliative care globally.  Dr. Foley is an attending neurologist in the Department of Neurology and in the Pain and Palliative Care Service, Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. She is also a professor of neurology, neuroscience, and clinical pharmacology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Previously she served as director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center for Cancer Pain Research and Education at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. 

For her national and international efforts in the treatment of patients with cancer pain, Dr. Foley was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Her work has resulted in the publication of the three WHO monographs on Cancer Pain and Palliative Care: “Cancer Pain Relief” (1996); “Cancer Pain Relief and Palliative Care” (1990); and “Cancer Pain and Palliative Care in Children” (1996). In addition to her clinical work, she holds The Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Chair in Pain Research and is the medical director of the International Palliative Care Initiative of the Open Society Foundation, a philanthropic effort to advance palliative care in resource limited settings.

Dr. Barbara K. Rimer received the Medal of Honor for Cancer Control for her seminal cancer research efforts, particularly her work in breast cancer screening, which has guided national research, practice, and policy for more than 20 years. Her work has evolved with the field from raising awareness of screening and increasing screening initiation, to promoting screening maintenance. Dr. Rimer has also been informing national policy and expert group recommendations, and addresses disparities and translation into practice. 

Dr. Rimer is currently dean and alumni distinguished professor of Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.  She is also chair of the President’s Cancer Panel, vice-chair of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Task Force on Community Preventive Services and a member of the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Rimer has served in a number of leadership positions in cancer research. She was the founding director of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences and chair of the Institute’s National Cancer Advisory Board. She was deputy director for population sciences at the UNC Lineberger, associate director for cancer control at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and director of behavioral research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Dr. Rimer has also published extensively on a wide range of topics including cancer screening, tobacco control, and genetic and genomics based testing. 

Past recipients of the Society’s Medal of Honor include former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush; the late Honorable Edward M. Kennedy, Senator from Massachusetts; George N. Papanicolau, M.D., inventor of the Pap test; Robert C. Gallo, M.D., recognized for his achievements in pioneering the field of human retrovirology; the late Judah Folkman, M.D., a leading researcher in the field of antiangiogenesis; the late C. Everett Koop, M.D., former U.S. Surgeon General; and the late advice columnists Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren.

About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society's efforts have contributed to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress nearly 14 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. As we mark our 100th birthday in 2013, we're determined to finish the fight against cancer. We're finding cures as the nation’s  largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit