2016 Prize Winner


This year's winner is Roel Verhaak, an Associate Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Verhaak will receive a $25,000 check and will present a lecture based on his research at an award ceremony at 11:30 am on Friday, August 5, 2016, at NIH's Lipsett Auditorium, followed by a luncheon reception. To attend the luncheon, RSVP by August 1, 2016. 

The Honorable Mentions for 2016 are Nicola Aceto, an Assistant Professor from the University of Basel, and Eliezer Van Allen, an Assistant Professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Thank you to this year's judging committee: Patrick Tan from Duke-National University of Singapore Medical School, Klaus Pantel from University of Hamburg, and Maurizio Scaltriti from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

The Prize

The AAAS Martin and Rose Wachtel Cancer Research Award is an annual award, funded by an endowment established through a generous bequest from Martin L. Wachtel. This award honors early-career investigators who have performed outstanding work in the field of cancer research. Entrants must have received their Ph.D. or M.D. within the last 10 years. The award winner is invited to deliver a public lecture on his or her research and receives an unrestricted cash award of $25,000. The award winning Essay is published as a Focus article in Science Translational Medicine.

Application Procedures


  • Each entrant must be a researcher in the field of cancer, with an advanced degree (Ph.D., M.D., D.V.M.) received within the last 10 years.
  • The research must have been performed during the previous 10 years.
  • The entrant must have performed or personally directed the work described in the Essay.
  • Employees and affiliates of AAAS and their relatives are not eligible for the prize.
  • Applicants who did not win are welcome to reapply as long as they are otherwise eligible for the award. Previous winners and honorable mentions are not eligible to apply again.

Procedures for Entry

Entry packages must include the following materials, written in English:

  1. A letter of application written by the entrant or by a nominator describing the entrant's significant contributions to cancer research. The letter should explain how the candidate's research promises to make a lasting impact on the cancer field.
  2. An Essay written by the nominee describing his or her research project and explaining how it advances our understanding of cancer. The Essay must not exceed 1500 words (not including references) and should have a short title, a one-line abstract, no more than 10 references and one figure. The research described in the Essay must be in the field of cancer, and the applicant must have performed or directed all of the work. The research must have been performed within the last 10 years.
  3. A one-page letter of recommendation from the entrant's postdoctoral advisor, supervisor, or other senior colleague who is familiar with the entrant's work.
  4. A copy of the entrant's curriculum vitae.
  5. Copies of two of the entrant's papers that are most relevant to the Essay.

Send all materials in the entry package in pdf format to Yevgeniya Nusinovich, cancer editor at Science Translational Medicine, at, with Wachtel Award Entry in the subject line. Please note: if your contact information changes after submission, you must inform us at

Criteria and Selection

The editors of Science Translational Medicine are responsible for the initial evaluation of the Essays. Approximately the top 30 percent of the Essays are forwarded to the judging panel, which will be composed of prominent international researchers in the field of cancer. The applicants will be rated on two characteristics: scientific quality and significance of their research, and the clarity and style of the Essay.


Send inquiries by email to

Past Prize winners:  

2015: Nicholas Navin, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was recognized for his work on signle-cell gene sequencing. The 2 honorable mentions were Agnel Sfeir from New York University School of Medicine and Nitzan Rosenfeld from Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and University of Cambridge.

2014: Li Ma, an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, was recognized for her work on the molecular determinants of breast cancer progression, and Jeffrey Tyner, an Assistant Professor at Oregon Health & Science University, was recognized for his work on the genetics of leukemia. 

2013: Scott Tomlins, an Assistant Professor in the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School, was recognized for his studies of prostate cancer genetics. The 3 honorable mentions were Gregory Beatty from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Michele De Palma from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, and Franziska Michor from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.