Dr. Leslie Ford built clinical cancer prevention research as a scientific field when few people were considering the possibility of prevention, and is recognized as a national and international leader in cancer prevention research. She has a passion for prevention and strong belief that all clinical science must, to the fullest extent possible, derive as a translation of basic science. The European Institute of Oncology recognized her in 2007 for her "outstanding passion and pivotal role in creating, sustaining, and confirming the value of cancer prevention in modern oncology."
The creation and success of the NCI’s Community Clinical Oncology Program is largely due to her efforts and guidance. In 2007, this network of community-based cancer clinics continued to enroll fully one-third of all participants on NCI-sponsored prevention, treatment, and cancer control studies. The CCOPs are a major phase III trials network that reaches across the United States. Their existence contributes to the diffusion and adoption of new therapies more quickly than any other mechanism. The CCOP system has served as a model for clinical research in AIDS and other diseases. The CCOPs are also the focal point for well-designed trials of symptom management in cancer care.
It was Dr. Ford’s vision and leadership that led to NCI’s large phase III cancer prevention trials conducted through the CCOPs. These include the landmark Breast Cancer Prevention Trial, which was the first demonstration that breast cancer could be prevented. This and the subsequent STAR trial led to the only Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs to reduce breast cancer risk: tamoxifen and raloxifene. Success goes beyond the trials and drug approvals to the priceless biorepositories from these studies. These resources allow research into the molecular underpinnings of trial results, the molecular basis of carcinogenesis for breast and prostate cancer. Dr. Ford redesigned the drug development and early phase trials system for DCP as a translational research program, linking basic science to early phase trials of prevention agents. In 2007, the Early Phase Clinical Trials Consortia began 11 new trials and completed 2 others.