The ECCO Lifetime Achievement Award honors individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the fight against cancer, by impacting the cancer field or the cancer professional community, and by demonstrating a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer.
2013 Award: Françoise Meunier
Françoise Meunier, EORTC Director General, received the ECCO Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 ECCO – ESMO – ESTRO European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam during the Presidential Session on Saturday, 28 September 2013 at 13:45 in Hall 7.1. Dr. Meunier has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in clinical research dedicated to patients with cancer. Her efforts have been instrumental in promoting international multidisciplinary clinical research to improve survival of these patients.
The ECCO Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2009 to honor individuals who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to progress against cancer and have had a profound impact on the cancer field or cancer professional community. Past winners of this prestigious award were Dr. Margaret Foti in 2009 and Professor Umberto Veronesi in 2011.
For the last 22 years, Françoise Meunier has held the reins of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer as its Director General, and under her direction this premier European cancer research organization has successfully met the challenges posed by a new regulatory framework and requirements for international collaboration. The EORTC Headquarters staff now numbers 160 employees representing 17 different nationalities and handles some 30 protocols open to patient entry, over 50,000 patients in follow-up, and a database of more than 180,000 patients.
Dr. Meunier’s contribution consisted of the coordination and administration of all EORTC activities in order to promote the EORTC as a major European organization in the field of cancer research and treatment and is responsible for the implementation of scientific activities, public relations and medium term strategies as defined by the EORTC Board as well as for internal and external communication.
The creation of an EORTC Fellowship program is also among her lasting contributions to cancer research. This program, established by Royal Decree in 1992 soon after she joined the EORTC as its Director General, serves to educate the next generation of cancer clinical researchers. To date, more than one hundred fellows from over thirty countries around the world have participated in this program and, following their stay at EORTC Headquarters, have gone on to pursue successful careers improving treatments for patients with cancer.
Prior to joining the EORTC, Dr. Meunier was Head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the Institute Jules Bordet in Brussels, and her personal area of research included mainly the management of infections in neutropenic patients and Invasive Fungal Infections. Infections can be a significant problem for patients undergoing treatment for cancer, and research conducted by the EORTC Infectious Diseases Group and its forerunners, the International Antimicrobial Therapy Cooperative Group and the Invasive Fungal Infections Group, has improved our understanding and management of infectious complications arising during cancer treatment. These studies conducted within the EORTC dramatically changed the outcome of patients by significantly decreasing mortality secondary to septicemia.
Dr. Meunier received her Medical Degree summa cum laude from the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where she also earned Master’s Degrees in both Medical Oncology and Internal Medicine and a PhD, (Agrégé de l’Enseignement Supérieur). Following her studies and inspired by Prof. Henri Tagnon, she pursued a Fulbright Fellowship for two years at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She is certified as Pharmaceutical Medicine specialist by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine in the United Kingdom as well as in Belgium, is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom, and has been a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine since 2006.
Françoise Meunier was awarded the Belgian Laureate “Prix Femmes d’Europe 2004-2005” and, in 2007, was conferred the title of Baroness by His Majesty The King Albert II of Belgium.
In 2009, she was honored with the Pezcoller-ECCO Recognition for Contribution to Oncology for her outstanding contribution as a scientific leader and mentor, and in 2011 she became a Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences.
Since 2012 she has served as a member of the Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) Scientific Committee of the European Union.