2020 - John E. Dick

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto

For discovering and characterizing the mechanisms by which stem cells contribute to normal and leukemic hematopoiesis.

John E. Dick, PhD, is widely recognized for his seminal discovery of leukemic stem cells and for developing the first hematopoietic xenograft assay using human hematopoietic cells transplanted into immune-compromised mice, a technique capable of giving rise to distinct blood lineages. Using this assay, Dick has developed xenograft models of human acute lymphoid leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia that have provided crucial insights into the onset and progression of such diseases.

Dick’s findings uncovered a gene signature of leukemia stemness that can be used to predict survival rates and response to treatment. In addition, this gene signature has provided actionable targets for drug development, led to the identification of preleukemic mutations in normal hematopoietic cells, and laid the groundwork for three drugs currently being tested in clinical trials.


The Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Cancer Research will be presented to John E. Dick, at the AACR Annual Meeting.


Dick is the Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology, a senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and an investigator at the McEwen Stem Cell Institute at the University Health Network in Toronto. Additionally, Dick is a professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto, and co-leader of the Acute Leukemia Translational Research Initiative for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Dick has also served as a senior scientist in the Department of Genetics at the Research Institute of the Hospital for Sick Children. He has been a member of the AACR since 2006 and was elected as a Fellow of the AACR Academy in 2016. He earned his doctoral degree in microbiology and biochemistry at the University of Manitoba.

Dr. John E. Dick, winner of the 2020 Pezcoller Foundation - AACR Award for Extraordinary Achievements in Cancer Research

On June 22, 2020 Dr. Dick gave the Award lecture on the role that stem cells play in leukemia, during the Virtual AACR Meeting.

His lecture is already available here.

For more information on his research:
"Stem cells play a role in leukemia from the beginning to the end"

John E. Dick, PhD, Fellow of the AACR Academy

unchecked checked