Congratulations Arizona Cancer Center 40 Under 40 winners

Elizabeth Jacobs, PhD; George Watts, PhD; and David S. Alberts, MD
Elizabeth Jacobs, PhD; George Watts, PhD; and David S. Alberts, MD

The Arizona Cancer Center congratulates three of its researcher/members and a community advisory board member on being selected as winners of the Tucson-area 40 Under 40 awards.

A panel of judges chose 60 finalists and 40 winners from among a record 220 nominations received this year for the award, which honors young community leaders. The 40 Under 40 winners were announced at a breakfast celebration at the Doubletree Hotel Tucson at Reid Park Oct. 15.

Arizona Cancer Center researcher/members Elizabeth Jacobs, PhD; George Watts, PhD; Tracy Brooks, PhD; and Felicia Goodrum, PhD, were winners, as was community advisory board member Steven Eddy. Joyce Schroeder, a researcher/member and UA associate professor of molecular and cellular biology, was among the 60 finalists.

“They are the best of the best,” said David S. Alberts, MD, director of the Arizona Cancer Center. ”They contribute tremendously to our mission to prevent and cure cancer every minute of every day.”

Watts, 37, co-director of the Cancer Center’s Genomics Shared Service, makes DNA microarray technology accessible to the UA community and uses the technology in his own research to search for genes that play a role in cancer and could be potential targets for cancer therapies.

“I was floored,” he said. “It was out of the blue - I had no idea about it. It felt really good. It was nice to have something really positive like that happen.”

Bernard Futscher, PhD, co-director of the Arizona Cancer Center Cancer’s Genomics Shared Service and Cancer Biology and Genetics Program, wrote Watts’ nomination and said he believes the young scientist will be among the leaders of tomorrow.

“Dr. Watts is an intelligent, energetic and productive scientist who has shown a strong ability to implement new technologies to address important scientific questions,” he said.

Jacobs, 38, an assistant professor in the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, studies genetic, dietary and lifestyle factors associated with cancer risk with a focus on vitamin D and cancer risk.

Elena Martinez, PhD, co-director of the Arizona Cancer Center Cancer Prevention and Control Program and director of the Cancer Health Disparities Institute, nominated Jacobs.

“She is a highly-driven, productive and talented scientist,” Martinez said. “I have no doubt that she is well on her way to becoming a pioneer in the field of cancer prevention and nutritional epidemiology.”

Jacobs was thrilled with the award, but found the nomination just as significant.

“The thing that was meaningful was that my mentors took the time to nominate me,” she said. “It's really flattering. It's such an honor.”

Goodrum, who celebrated her 40th birthday the day before the ceremony, is an assistant professor of immunobiology and molecular and cellular biology at the University of Arizona.

Eddy, 28, a project manager at The Planning Center, said his proudest professional accomplishment was being appointed to the Arizona Cancer Center board.