Riccardo Dalla-Favera, MD, Receives AACR Award for Outstanding Achievement in Blood Cancer Research

April 17, 2023
Headshot of Dr. Riccardo Dalla-Favera

Riccardo Dalla-Favera, MD

At this year’s annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)Riccardo Dalla-Favera, MD, will receive the AACR’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Blood Cancer Research, recognizing his over 40-year career working to advance scientific understanding of lymphoma and cancer genetics. Dr. Dalla-Favera's award is one of several Scientific Achievement Awards given by the AACR annually, recognizing leading scientists who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to progress against cancer and have made contributions in research, leadership, or mentorship that have had a lasting impact on the cancer field. 

“I am honored to be recognized for outstanding achievement in blood cancer research,” says Dr. Dalla-Favera, Director of the Institute for Cancer Genetics at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) and member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC) at Columbia University. “I’m very excited by the advancements we have made and are continuing to make in lymphoma research, and to be recognized by such an outstanding institution as the AACR is a great privilege.” 

As one of the AACR’s 2023 awardees, Dr. Dalla-Favera will speak at this year’s AACR annual meeting, held April 14 to 19 in Orlando, FL. With over 50,000 members, the AACR is one of the largest professional organizations dedicated to cancer research in the world. Every year, thousands of researchers, clinicians, patients, and health advocates attend the AACR’s annual meeting, where members present impactful discoveries made in cancer research during the previous year. Dr. Dalla-Favera’s award lecture will be held on Tuesday, April 18, at 3:45 p.m. ET. 

“Columbia University and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Center are fortunate to have two members, Riccardo Dalla-Favera and Cory Abate-Shen, recognized for their outstanding scientific achievements,” says Anil K. Rustgi, director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Annually, the AACR gives out multiple awards, and a very limited number of institutions have the honor of receiving two awards amongst their faculty.”


A Leader in B-Cell Lymphoma Research at Columbia and Beyond 


As a member of Columbia’s faculty for over 30 years, Dr. Dalla-Favera’s leadership has been integral in the growth of the HICCC and cancer research at Columbia. In 1999, Dr. Dalla-Favera helped found the Institute for Cancer Genetics (ICG) within VP&S, where researchers work to understand the genetic drivers of cancer formation and growth, leading to new therapeutic targets and treatments. Dr. Dalla-Favera became the ICG’s inaugural director, a role he maintains to this day. He also served as director of the HICCC from 2005-2011, overseeing Columbia’s cancer research efforts during a period of great expansion and promise for lymphoma research. 

Over his decades-long career, Dr. Dalla-Favera has become known for his discoveries of specific genetic drivers that promote the formation and growth of B-cell lymphomas. Specifically, Dr. Dalla-Favera and his collaborators have identified several B-cell oncogenes. Oncogenes are a type of gene that, though initially designed to help grow and divide cells normally, has mutated or malfunctioned in some way to begin promoting cancer cell growth. In addition to identifying specific oncogenes, Dr. Dalla-Favera and his team have worked to understand the genome of B-cells as whole, understanding each components’ normal function and identifying specific points where damage or mutations within the genome can cause B-cell lymphoma. The impact of this research has been twofold, identifying new potential targets to diagnose and treat B-cell lymphoma and providing a clear picture of the genetic structure and functions of healthy B-cells. 

Currently, Dr. Dalla-Favera serves as principal investigator for several multi-year grants looking to identify new therapeutic targets for B-cell lymphomas and advance our knowledge of cancer genetics and molecular parthenogenesis. In addition to his work at Columbia, Dr. Dalla-Favera is also the co-editor-in-chief of the AACR journal Blood Cancer Discovery, founded in 2020. 

Beyond his Outstanding Achievement in Blood Cancer Research award, Dr. Dalla-Favera has received many honors recognizing his scientific contributions, including two NIH MERIT awards, the AACR GHA Clowes Memorial Award, and the Giants of Cancer Care award. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2010 and later to the National Academy of Science in 2015.