Piro Lito, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. Lito is the recipient of the ASCI’s 2022 Donald Seldin~Holly Smith Award for Pioneering Research. He is a physician-scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College. He studies the properties of proteins that drive cancer cell growth, focusing on lung cancer and other solid tumors. His research aims to provide insight into the fundamental processes that govern tumor biology and to identify therapeutic interventions that prolong survival and improve the quality of life in patients. In particular, he has made key advances in the effort to understand and target tumors driven by KRAS, the most frequently activated cancer-causing protein. His group showed that mutated KRAS oncoproteins are not locked in an active state, but rather cycle between an active and inactive state; a property that renders them susceptible to drugs that trap the mutant protein in its inactive conformation. In addition to describing the mechanism of action of novel KRAS inhibitors, his team helped translate these drugs into clinical trials, determined how cancer cells bypass the effect of treatment and identified several combination strategies promising to improve the clinical benefits of this first-in-class therapy. Dr. Lito’s work has been recognized by other awards including the Pew-Stewart Scholar for Cancer Research Award and the Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Award.