Photo courtesy of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance

On October 30, 2017, the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA) announced the six recipients of its biennial awards which recognize significant contributions to cancer research in Canada. Included among the six is Dr. Eduardo Franco, James McGill Professor in the Departments of Oncology and Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health, Director, Division of Cancer Epidemiology, and Chairman, Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology, at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Franco receives the CCRA’s Award for Distinguished Service to Cancer Research in recognition of his significant role in cancer prevention by generating critical scientific evidence for the HPV vaccine and actively promoting the adoption of HPV vaccination across Canada, his research and advocacy for cost-effective cervical cancer prevention approaches in low- and middle-income countries, and his proponency of appropriate peer-review and editorial oversight to ensure the publication of quality cancer research.

“These awards demonstrate CCRA’s continuing recognition of excellence in cancer research,” says Dr. Sara Urowitz, Executive Director of CCRA. “We take this opportunity to showcase these achievements during our biennial scientific conference so that these awardees can be honoured in the presence of their peers and can serve as a source of inspiration for our new investigators and trainees.”

“I am very grateful to the CCRA for the immense honour of receiving this award,” says Dr. Franco. “Scientific discoveries alone do not do much. It is necessary to translate these discoveries into knowledge that can make a difference. It is also necessary to advocate for policies that should come in consequence of those discoveries, but frequently do not. The road to cancer prevention and control is arduous and full of obstacles. It is only with persistence, hard work, and luck that we eventually succeed. A good “home” is also essential; Canada and McGill have been essential. I very much doubt that I would have achieved even a fraction of what the CCRA chose to recognize in giving me this prize without the warm embrace that this country offers to those who reach its shores and without the support of a nurturing environment such as what we have at McGill.”

Throughout his illustrious career Dr. Franco has illuminated the transmission of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and its role in causing cervical cancer. His work as a molecular epidemiologist paved the way for the ongoing transition from the 70-year-old Pap screening test to a more sensitive molecular assay for HPV infection, and for the widespread adoption of HPV vaccination. Those successes stemmed in part from Dr. Franco’s willingness to buck conventional wisdom about the cause of cervical cancer, which three decades ago held that Herpes virus simplex was the culprit. His tenacity in marshalling evidence to support his skepticism eventually managed to shift the mainstream view of the medical community, and led to the successful efforts to develop the vaccine. His studies of epidemiological methods for evaluating cancer screening strategies, of the impact of measurement error in epidemiology, and of societal and clinical influences on cancer patient survival have often been international in scope. His innovation in correcting for verification bias in studies of screening has become accepted practice, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now requires be done in all trials.

Dr. Franco has trained over 100 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and almost 30 undergraduate trainees. He has given more than 650 presentations as either an invited speaker or session chair, has published over 450 scientific articles and 58 chapters, has edited two books on cancer epidemiology and prevention, and has co-edited 10 journal supplement issues. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Preventive Medicine and Founding Editor of Preventive Medicine Reports, and has served on the editorial boards of various journals, including Epidemiology, the International Journal of Cancer, and PLoS-Medicine. He served twice as an advisor to the U.S. President’s Cancer Panel and is an elected council member representing North American epidemiologists in the International Epidemiological Association.

Dr. Franco will receive his award during the 4th Canadian Cancer Research Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia on Monday, November 6.

Congratulations Dr. Franco!


October 30, 2017