The award is one of Korea’s highest honors and recognizes significant medical contributions
DUARTE, Calif. — Internationally-acclaimed physician and scientist Larry W. Kwak, M.D., Ph.D., director of City of Hope’s Toni Stephenson Lymphoma Center, has been awarded the 2016 Ho-Am Prize in Medicine, which recognizes people of Korean heritage who have made impressive contributions in clinical and research areas that contributed to the fight against disease.
Widely considered the Nobel Prizes of Korea, Kwak will receive the award at a June 1 ceremony in Seoul. The awards annually recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that have made important contributions to the advancement of humankind in science, engineering, medicine, the arts and community service.
“The Ho-Am Prize in Medicine recognizes Dr. Kwak’s leading-edge research on immunology and therapeutic cancer vaccines, which have greatly advanced this field of study,” said Steven T. Rosen, M.D., City of Hope’s provost and chief scientific officer. “His dedication to guiding research breakthroughs from the lab to the clinic, particularly in the treatment of lymphoma and other blood and bone marrow diseases, is extremely worthy of such international recognition.”
In 2010, Kwak was named to TIME magazine’s TIME100 as one of the world’s 100 most influential people for his research and commitment to the science of cancer immunotherapy. As head of the Vaccine Biology Section, Experimental Transplantation and Immunology Branch at the National Cancer Institute for 12 years, Kwak and his laboratory team were credited with the bench-to-clinic development of a therapeutic cancer vaccine for B-cell malignancies. The vaccine is one of the earliest examples of personalized medicine, a high priority area for City of Hope.
" As a Korean-American, the Ho-Am Prize is particularly significant for me, because it represents years of perseverance working towards a lifelong dream of bringing homegrown laboratory discoveries to impact patients worldwide as rapidly as possible,” said Kwak. “There is still much work to be done."
As a key leader with City of Hope’s Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute, Kwak sets scientific priorities and guides the development of new approaches to treating lymphoma and related diseases, especially those involving immune-based treatments.
Kwak also serves in the dual leadership role of inaugural associate director for developmental therapeutics and translational research for City of Hope’s National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center. He holds the title of the Dr. Michael Friedman Professor in Translational Medicine.
Kwak joined City of Hope in April 2015 from M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he served as chairman of the Department of Lymphoma and Myeloma and as co-director of the Center for Cancer Immunology Research.
Kwak received his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School and earned his Ph.D. in tumor cell biology there in 1984. He also completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in medical oncology at Stanford University Medical Center.
Samsung Chairman Kun-Hee Lee established the Ho-Am Prize in 1990 in honor of the company’s founder Byung-chull Lee, whose pen name was Ho-Am. Recipients are awarded a diploma, gold medal and prize money (approximately $268,000.)
About City of Hope
City of Hope is an independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases. Designated as one of only 45 comprehensive cancer centers, the highest recognition bestowed by the National Cancer Institute, City of Hope is also a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, with research and treatment protocols that advance care throughout the world. City of Hope is located in Duarte, California, just northeast of Los Angeles, with community clinics throughout Southern California. It is ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a pioneer in the fields of bone marrow transplantation, diabetes and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs based on technology developed at the institution.