News &

Media Contact

Amy Merves
Manager of
Media Relations



Pioneering Cancer Geneticist Dr. Alfred G. Knudson Jr. Will Receive Fox Chase Cancer Center's 14th Wick Williams Memorial Award

PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 5, 2002)-Pioneering cancer geneticist Alfred G. Knudson Jr., M.D., Ph.D., of Philadelphia will receive Fox Chase Cancer Center's 14th annual Wick R. Williams Memorial Award and deliver the Wick Williams Memorial Lecture at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12 in Fox Chase Cancer Center's main auditorium, 7701 Burholme Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia. He will speak on "Two Genetic Hits to Cancer Revisited." Knudson has been a senior member of Fox Chase Cancer Center's basic science staff since 1976.

A geneticist and physician, Knudson is internationally recognized for his "two-hit" theory of cancer causation, which explains the relationship between the hereditary and non-hereditary forms of a cancer and predicted the existence of tumor-suppressor genes that can suppress cancer cell growth. This now-confirmed theory has advanced understanding of errors in the genetic program that turn normal cells into cancer cells.

The Wick R. Williams award and lectureship commemorate a promising Fox Chase geneticist who died of lymphoma at age 36 in September 1988. The Williams family endowed the memorial program to discuss research on the genetic patterns of cancer in ways that are meaningful to a broad audience.

Knudson is the first Fox Chase staff member to receive the Wick R. Williams Memorial Award. He joins a distinguished group of geneticists who are past Wick Williams Award recipients, including M.D. Anderson's Louise C. Strong, M.D.; the National Cancer Institute's Joseph F. Fraumeni Jr., M.D.; the late James V. Neel, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Michigan, considered the father of the field of human genetics; Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., of director of the National Human Genome Research Institute; Frederick P. Li, M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and, last year, Georg Klein, M.D., Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Knudson was named a Fox Chase Distinguished Scientist and senior advisor to the president in 1992. He led Fox Chase's molecular oncology program from 1989 to 1999. Previously, he served as director of Fox Chase's Institute for Cancer Research from 1976 until 1982, Center president from 1980 to 1982 and scientific director from 1982 to 1983.

In 1995 Knudson became special advisor to Richard Klausner, M.D., immediate past director of the National Cancer Institute. While continuing his role at Fox Chase, Knudson also worked closely with Joseph Fraumeni, M.D., director of NCI's Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics. Knudson served as acting director of NCI's human genetics program until September 1998, when he returned to Fox Chase full-time.

Among Knudson's many professional distinctions, he received the 1988 Charles S. Mott Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation; the American Cancer Society's 1989 Medal of Honor; Canada's 1997 Gairdner Foundation International Award; the 1998 Albert Lasker Award for Clinical Medical Research; the 1999 Distinguished Career Award of the American Society of Hematology/ Oncology; and the international John Scott Award in 1999. Most recently, in May 2002, the American Society of Clinical Oncology honored him with its 2002 Special Award in the form of a Pediatric Oncology Lectureship recognizing individuals who are accomplished in pediatric oncology.

Born in Los Angeles in 1922, Dr. Knudson received his B.S. from California Institute of Technology in 1944, his M.D. from Columbia University in 1947 and his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1956. He held a Guggenheim fellowship from 1953 to 1954.

Knudson came to Fox Chase from the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, where he was dean, and the M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute in Houston, Texas, where he specialized in pediatrics and biology. Previously, he was associate dean for basic sciences at the State University of New York at Stony Brook from 1966 to 1969. He began his affiliation with Fox Chase in 1970 as a member of its scientific advisory committee before joining the Center staff in 1976.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, one of the nation's first comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute in 1974, conducts basic and clinical research; programs of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer; and community outreach. For more information about Fox Chase activities, visit the Center's web site at

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

More 2002 News Releases »