ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award

The prestigious ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2006 to recognise international research by individuals, teams and organisations that demonstrate commitment to clinical cancer research and/or education.

The winner of the 2014 ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award will be announced in August.


Candidates for the award are considered by the ESMO Fellowship and Award Committee of renowned cancer leaders. After careful deliberations by the committee, its recommendations are forwarded to the ESMO Executive Board for final consideration and selection.

The choice of the award winner is made on the basis of the candidate's scientific accomplishments. No regard will be given to race, gender, and nationality, religious or political views.

The award consists of a statuette, the opportunity to give a lecture on the team's/individual’s research findings during either the ESMO or the ECC Congress plus free registration, free accommodation and reimbursement of travel expenses.

Previous winners of the ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award

2013 ECC Amsterdam – Franco Cavalli, IOSI Instituto Oncologia Svizzera Italiana, Bellinzona, Switzerland

Prof Cavalli is the founding editor of the Annals of Oncology, ESMO’s flagship scientific journal, established to keep medical oncologists at the cutting edge of new research developments.

Born in Locarno, Switzerland, he is Scientific Director of the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland (IOSI), Bellinzona, the comprehensive cancer centre for the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. Franco Cavalli was voted Switzerland’s “Person of the Year” in 2006 for his contribution to society – in particular his efforts on tackling cancer in developing regions – while he was a member of the Swiss Parliament (1995 to 2007).

Franco Cavalli

I could have not imagined at that time that Lugano would become home to the largest European association representing medical oncologists.
ESMO has always meant a lot to me. In this sense, it is a wonderful feeling to receive this recognition.

Franco Cavalli

Prof Cavalli was formerly Chair of the Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK) and was president of the Swiss League against Cancer during 2001-2004. He is currently Chair of the Scientific Committee of the European School of Oncology (ESO) and from 2006 to 2008 was President of the International Union Against Cancer (UICC). Prof Cavalli has authored or co-authored more than 550 scientific articles and five books including the "Textbook of Medical Oncology". Among his collection of international awards are the Pezcoller Award, the New Drug Development Organisation Honorary Award, the Greidinger Award (Israel) and the Waldman Award (USA).

For over 12 years (1986-1998) Prof Cavalli was ESMO Secretary with a seat in the Executive Committee, the core body of ESMO comprised of leading oncologists who conduct activities on behalf and for the benefit of members.

Prof Cavalli’s research began in leukaemia and he represented Switzerland in the Cancer and Leukaemia Group B (CALGB) (1975-1985). He later worked on breast cancer and now studies malignant lymphomas. He was instrumental in creating the International Extranodal Lymphoma Study Group (IELSG). Every second year he organises the International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma in Lugano, the leading international forum for basic and clinical research in lymphomas.

Josep Tabernero, Chair of the ESMO Fellowship and Award Committee, in charge of continuously identifying international researchers and clinicians worthy of recognition, said: “On behalf of ESMO, I congratulate Prof Franco Cavalli as a much deserved recipient of this prestigious award. Prof Cavalli is a true gentleman and scholar, tirelessly working to advance cancer research and care for the benefit of cancer patients all over the world. Long before the term ‘oncopolicy’ started to gain momentum, he was already tackling key healthcare and policy issues to better raise awareness on and around cancer. He has also been instrumental in promoting the speciality of Medical Oncology at the European and International levels.”

2012 ESMO Vienna - European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), Brussels, Belgium

The 2012 ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC). This unique pan-European non-profit clinical cancer research organisation was created 50 years ago and comprises over 300 hospitals and cancer centres in over 30 countries, including some 2,500 collaborators from all disciplines of cancer treatment and research. It has been, and continues to be, the largest organisation which carries out independent clinical studies at a European level in all types of cancer.

2011 EMCC Stockholm - Hans Jörg Senn, Switzerland

Professor Senn deserves this award for his continuity in organising educational activities, which set the standards of care in breast cancer, mainly in relation to adjuvant treatment, as well as bringing prevention strategies to medical oncologists in Europe. During his career he was actively involved in research activities and established organisationally several leading professional educational entities in Europe. His outstanding efforts through the organisation of Consensus Conferences among breast cancer experts focused attention on addressing subtle questions in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer, which presented a dilemma for practicing physicians. His work internationally opened an interest in cancer prevention to medical oncology community in Europe.

Prof. Hans Jörg Senn has been the leader of the optimisation treatment of early breast cancer and through the conference in St. Gallen has generated a state-of-art definition of therapy for patients with this disease. Thus, he has contributed enormously to the development of the treatment of early breast cancer. The Consensus statements generated at these events are established as very important standards in clinical practice worldwide.

  • 2010 - Alan H. Calvert, United Kingdom
  • 2009 - Alan Ashworth, United Kingdom
  • 2008 - Emil M. Costa, Spain
  • 2007 - Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI)
  • 2006 - Breast International Group (BIG)