ELCC 2015 Press Release: First Heine H. Hansen Award goes to Pieter E. Postmus

  • Date: 13 Apr 2015

Geneva / Lugano - The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) and the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) have announced the first Heine H. Hansen (HHH) Award recipient as Pieter Postmus. The award will be presented at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC) 2015, held 15 to 18 April in Geneva, Switzerland.

The HHH Award is launched this year to recognise the lifetime contribution of Prof Heine H. Hansen1 to lung cancer research and education globally. Prof Hansen was a president of ESMO, a founder of IASLC and a mentor to many in the field of lung cancer. The HHH Award will be presented annually by representatives of both organisations at ELCC, where the awardee will give a keynote lecture.2

ESMO President and lung cancer expert Prof Rolf A. Stahel said: “ESMO is committed to promoting excellence in cancer care, research and education. By creating this award together with IASLC, each year we will celebrate the contribution of an outstanding specialist in lung cancer.”

Prof Tony Mok, IASLC President said: “Prof Hansen was a pioneer. Not only was he a visionary in new drug development for lung cancer, Prof Hansen recognised the importance of international collaboration in the fight against this dreadful disease. For such he founded the IASLC over 40 years ago. With his vision and continuous support the organisation has grown to become the largest international group that promotes prevention and treatment of lung cancer.”

The HHH Award acknowledges a lung cancer investigator who has made a special contribution to lung cancer research and education on an international basis. Prof Postmus is a member of the ESMO Faculty for Lung and other Thoracic Tumours. He was a board member of IASLC from 2003 to 2011 and president of the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Amsterdam in 2011. Prof Postmus started the lung cancer research and lung transplant programmes in the Netherlands while working in the Department of Pulmonary Diseases at the University Hospital of Groningen during 1982 to 1992.

Prof Postmus moved to Amsterdam in 1992 to become head of department and professor of pulmonary diseases at the VU medisch centrum (VUmc). There he developed research programmes in pulmonary circulation, pneumothorax and thoracic oncology. His research in thoracic oncology focused on early detection, endobronchial therapy, staging procedures, testing and introducing new drugs and new combinations, methods to communicate and inform patients and relatives. He retired from VUmc in 2014 and is currently chair of thoracic oncology at Clatterbridge Cancer Center, Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital, University of Liverpool, UK.

Commenting on the significance of receiving the award, Prof Postmus said: “To receive an award connected to one of the colleagues in the area of thoracic oncology is a great honour. I admired Heine Hansen as a great clinical scientist and he was for me a role model. I have still very good memories of my first visit to his department in Copenhagen in 1979, and was impressed by the very structured way clinical work was translated into science. During more than 30 years I met Heine at many meetings, frequently resulting in new ideas for collaboration and clinical research.”

Prof Postmus acknowledged the contribution of others to his career. He said: “Receiving this award is for me recognition for all the scientific work produced by a team of excellent colleagues in the Netherlands. Without the continuous and stimulating influence and cooperation of my friends and colleagues Dirk Sleijfer, Egbert Smit and Thomas Sutedja, it would have been impossible to be so productive. I owe them much more than words can express. The unconditional and ceaseless support of my wife Ineke was and is crucial.”

ESMO Board member Christoph Zielinski of the Medical University in Vienna, Austria, Chair of the ESMO Fellowship & Award Committee, said: “Prof Postmus is one of the most important lung cancer specialists regarding both clinical as well as translational research worldwide. His contribution to the study, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer are of highest importance and extensively published in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals thus qualifying him as a logical choice to become a recipient of the HHH award.”

Prof Fred R. Hirsch, IASLC CEO and Executive Director, said: “It is a great honour for IASLC and ESMO to present the HHH Award for the first time. Prof Hansen was a pioneer in developing modern therapy (e.g. chemotherapy) not only for lung cancer, but also for solid tumours in general, although lung cancer was closest to his heart. After some years in the US, Prof Hansen came back to Denmark and Europe and systematically performed prospective randomised clinical trials with chemotherapy in lung cancer, which gave breakthrough results in a disease which was at that time considered ‘non-treatable’.”

He added: “Having been a student of Heine Hansen and having been mentored by him through many years, it is personally a great pleasure for me seeing IASLC and ESMO acknowledge his significant contribution to the development of lung cancer research and clinical trials by establishing the HHH Award.”


Notes to Editors

  1. Prof Hansen started translational research in lung cancer and collaborated with many investigators in Europe and the US. Early on he saw a need for a formal collaborative framework for investigators focusing on lung cancer and was one of the visionary founders of the IASLC and its journal Lung Cancer. He later became the IASLC’s President and first Executive Director. Prof Hansen played a significant role in ESMO’s evolution and was ESMO President in 1996-1997. At ESMO he contributed to the development of a global curriculum for medical oncology and was instrumental in developing medical oncology as a recognised specialty in Europe. He was also very active in educational activities in the previous Eastern European countries and implemented many clinical trials in this part of Europe.
  2. The Heine H. Hansen Award will be presented to Prof Postmus during the ELCC Award Lecture on Saturday, 18 April 2015 at 10:30, ROOM B. Keynote lecture: “Optimise and optimism”.

About the European Society for Medical Oncology

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) is the leading European professional organization committed to advancing the specialty of medical oncology and promoting an integrated approach to cancer treatment and care. With over 10,000 members from countries around the world, ESMO represents the ideal platform for oncologists to network, update their knowledge and improve their practice.
ESMO’s scientific journal, Annals of Oncology, ranks among the top clinical oncology journals worldwide.

About the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer

The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is the only global organisation dedicated to the study of lung cancer. Founded in 1974, the association’s membership includes more than 3,500 lung cancer specialists in 80 countries. To learn more about IASLC please visit www.iaslc.org