The American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI) is pleased to recognize Piro Lito, MD, PhD, as the recipient of the 2022 Donald Seldin~Holly Smith Award for Pioneering Research. Dr. Lito receives an honorarium of $30,000 to advance his academic efforts and will deliver a scientific talk at the 2023 AAP/ASCI/APSA Joint Meeting.
Dr. Lito has worked to understand KRAS oncoprotein signaling in cancer. Approximately 25% of patients with lung cancer have KRAS mutations; and ~13% of these have the specific mutation G12C. Dr. Lito demonstrated that KRAS mutants are not locked in their active state but rather cycle between their active and inactive states in cancer cells. Further, he described the mechanism by which KRAS G12C can be inhibited by drugs that target its inactive state, rendering it unable to contribute to further tumor growth. In addition, Dr. Lito co-led the first-in-human clinical trial of the KRAS G12C inhibitor sotorasib, work that paved the way for the US FDA’s approval of sotorasib in 2021.
Frank McCormick, PhD, FRS, DSc (Hon), who is Professor, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, supported Dr. Lito’s nomination, noting that “Piro is exemplary of the kind of person we should support with the Seldin~Smith Award. He has tremendous potential to conduct high‐risk and potentially groundbreaking research.”
Dr. Lito earned his BS, PhD, and MD from Michigan State University. He subsequently completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. He did his clinical fellowship in medical oncology and postdoctoral research at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where he is currently Associate Member and Attending Physician. Dr. Lito’s research has been supported in part by the National Cancer Institute. He is a Pew-Stewart Scholar in Cancer Research, a Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator, a recipient of the 2018 ASCI’s Young Physician-Scientist Awards and the recipient of the 2021 Trailblazer Prize for Clinician Scientists by the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health. He was elected to the ASCI in 2021.
Nominations were evaluated by the Seldin~Smith Award Selection Committee: Mukesh K. Jain (Chair), Vivian G. Cheung, Charles L. Sawyers, Elizabeth M. McNally, W. Kimryn Rathmell, and Lorraine Ware. Finalists were evaluated by an Advisory Committee comprising five physician-scientist luminaries: Joseph L. Goldstein (Chair), Michael S. Brown, Robert J. Lefkowitz, Christine Seidman, and Arthur Weiss.