Norris Cotton Cancer Center Director Steven Leach Named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Steven D. Leach, MD, director of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center and the Preston T. and Virginia R. Kelsey Distinguished Chair in Cancer at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

Steven D. Leach, MD (photo by Rob Strong)

Leach, a nationally recognized leader in pancreatic cancer research, is the leader of northern New England’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated comprehensive cancer centers, overseeing a nationally recognized program that combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth and the Geisel School of Medicine with patient-centered cancer care provided across the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system.

“It is an honor to be recognized by the AAAS for my research in the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer,” said Leach. “My research has run the gamut from very basic studies of pancreatic development using mouse and zebrafish, to our more recent studies of human pancreatic cancer and how pancreatic cancer mutations engage the host immune system. All of this work has been driven by my intrinsic love of biology and deep gratitude to all the tremendous teachers, colleagues and students that I’ve encountered along the way. I greatly appreciate the acknowledgment by the AAAS for this ongoing work, which is ultimately aimed at improving survival for pancreatic cancer patients.”

Leach was elected as an AAAS Fellow for furthering understanding of cancer as a recapitulation of embryonic development, including identification of multiple genes and pathways currently being targeted in clinical trials.

“I am very pleased that Dr. Leach has earned this recognition from his scientific peers,” adds Duane Compton, PhD, Dean of the Geisel School of Medicine and himself a AAAS Fellow. “It is a testament to his significant contributions to understanding the mechanisms driving cancer initiation and progression.”

“Steve’s leadership in pancreatic cancer research and treatment, as well as his leadership of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, make him a worthy recipient of the AAAS Fellowship,” said Dartmouth-Hitchcock CEO and President Joanne M. Conroy, MD. “All of us here at D-H have benefitted from his knowledge and expertise but, most importantly, it is our patients who are the beneficiaries. I’m delighted for Steve and proud to have him as a colleague at D-H.”

Leach joins 17 other Geisel faculty who have been elected AAAS Fellows, including Christopher Amos, PhD, Charles K. Barlowe, PhD, Ta Yuan Chang, PhD, Ambrose Cheung, MD, Duane Compton, PhD, Jay Dunlap, PhD. Mark Israel, MD, Jennifer Loros, PhD. Martin Lubin, MD, PhD. George O'Toole, PhD, Elmer Pfefferkorn, PhD, Hilda Weyl Sokol, PhD, Michael Sporn, MD, Harold Sox, MD, Surachai Supattapone, MD, PhD, William T. Wickner, MD, and James Bliska, PhD.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of Fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members (so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution), or by the AAAS chief executive officer. Fellows must have been continuous members of AAAS for four years by the end of the calendar year in which they are elected. AAAS Fellow’s lifetime honor comes with an expectation that recipients maintain the highest standards of professional ethics and scientific integrity.

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Scienceon November 29. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Saturday, February 16, 2019 during the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Norris Cotton Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester, Nashua and Keene, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT, and at partner hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. It is one of 49 centers nationwide to earn the National Cancer Institute’s “Comprehensive Cancer Center” designation. Learn more about Norris Cotton Cancer Center research, programs, and clinical trials online at